U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s (R-AL) bill to streamline post-9/11 GI Bill benefits was signed into law in December by President Joe Biden, marking the senator’s second piece of legislation to become law after the Supporting Families of the Fallen Act was signed in October.
“The burden our military and veteran families shoulder is immense enough without additional bureaucratic red tape weighing them down,” Tuberville said. “I’m proud we could deliver another win for our military families and ensure dependents aren’t barred from using the educational benefits they’ve earned.”
A bipartisan group of nine senators supported the bill, including U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-SD), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Mike Braun (R-IN), Tim Scott (R-SC), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), John Boozman (R-AR), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). The bill also had bipartisan support in the U.S. House of Representatives, where it was introduced by U.S. Congressman Vern Buchanan (R-FL-16).
Tuberville introduced S. 3606 in February 2022 after learning of a small, but correctable, error on the post-9/11 GI Bill benefit transfer forms that made it difficult for dependents to receive their post-9/11 GI Bill benefits. A section of current U.S. Veterans Affairs (VA) and U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) transfer forms requires the service member to fill out a field labeled “end date,” which refers to the date on which the dependent may no longer receive the benefit. There are multiple examples of service members misreading the information requested in the GI Bill benefit transfer forms, resulting in eligible dependents being barred from education benefits due to an easily amendable error.
Tuberville’s bill clarifies the information required on the forms by giving the VA and DoD the statutory authority required to remove the “end date” on forms and prevent further issues. The VA and DoD could not amend the information on the form without this statutory authority. Specifically, this bill would allow a service member to transfer his or her post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to a spouse or child so long as the service member has done the following:
– completed at least six years on the date the service member requests to transfer the benefit,
– agreed to add four more years of service
– and the individual receiving the benefits has enrolled in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS).
Tuberville’s bill passed the U.S. Senate in August 2022. More recently, a House-led bill containing language identical to Tuberville’s S. 3606 passed both chambers with broad bipartisan support.
The state of Alabama is home to more than 400,000 veterans. Since assuming office, Tuberville has been focused on identifying targeted, meaningful changes that can be made to how the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) delivers benefits and care to America’s veterans and service members. Earlier this year, his bill, Supporting Families of the Fallen Act, was signed into law by the president. This legislation raises the maximum coverage amounts under U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) and Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI) from $400,000 to $500,000 — the first update since 2005.
Along these lines, Tuberville has also introduced the HBOT Access Act of 2021 and Restoring Benefits to Defrauded Veterans Act. Through his work on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, he has supported several bills — including the Veterans Health Care Freedom Act, GHAPS Act and the Strengthening and Amplifying Vaccination Efforts to Locally Immunize all Veterans and Every Spouse (SAVE LIVES) Act.