The Trail: A Daily Diary of Campaign 2008



GI Bill in Effect, Obama Marks Occasion with Speech to Veterans

President Obama waves after speaking at a ceremony celebrating the Post-9/11 GI Bill at George Mason University in Fairfax. From left are Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, Obama, and Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) (Ron Edmonds/Associated Press)

Updated 12:35 p.m.
By Philip Rucker
President Obama visited the electoral battleground of Northern Virginia on Monday morning to mark the implementation of last year's GI bill granting higher education benefits to veterans of Iraq, Afghanistan and other post-Sept. 11 conflicts.

The legislation is the most extensive educational assistance program for veterans since the original landmark GI Bill, signed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1944, during World War II. Although the bill to extend access to college for recent veterans passed Congress in 2008 and was signed by President Bush, the Department of Veterans Affairs issued its first payments to colleges and universities on Aug. 1. The government expects to spend $78 billion over the next decade.

Obama used the occasion to reaffirm his administration's commitment to American service men and women.

"We do this not just to meet our moral obligation to those who've sacrificed greatly on our behalf and on behalf of the country," Obama said in a 12-minute address before some 350 veterans, advocates and other officials gathered at George Mason University in Fairfax County. "We do it because these men and women must now be prepared to lead our nation in the peaceful pursuit of economic leadership in the 21st century."

Obama said the bill gives veterans an opportunity to become part of the "backbone of a growing American middle class."

He praised the veterans' service and pointedly contrasted it with other, less noble behavior. "We have lived through an age when many people and institutions have acted irresponsibly -- when service often took a backseat to short-term profits; when hard choices were put aside for somebody else, for some other time. It's a time when easy distractions became the norm, and the trivial has been taken too seriously," he said.

"The men and women who have served since 9/11 tell us a different story.  While so many were reaching for the quick buck, they were heading out on patrol." 

"We owe a debt to all who serve," the president added. "And when we repay that debt to those bravest Americans among us, then we are investing in our future -- not just their future, but also the future of our own country."

Obama, flanked by Vice President Biden, described the GI bill as: "You pick the school, we'll help pick up the bill." The law grants every U.S. veteran who served in active duty since Sept. 10, 2001, an opportunity to receive an in-state, undergraduate education at a public college or university at no cost. It also offers student veterans a monthly housing allowance, annual book allowance and covers fees for tutorial services and other educational programs.

The administration estimates the bill will help some 250,000 American veterans attend colleges and universities by 2011, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki told the assembled.

"History is about to repeat itself," Shinseki said, suggesting the bill could be as far-reaching as the original GI bill. He told the veterans' gathering that the bill signifies the nation's "respect and appreciation for your service and your sacrifice."

Sen. Jim H. Webb (D-Va.), a decorated Marine veteran of the Vietnam War and a former Navy secretary who wore his son's war boots during his campaign for Senate in 2006, introduced the new GI bill on his first day in the Senate. Then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), whose grandfather went to college with help from the first GI bill, was an early co-sponsor of the bill.

Former senator John W. Warner (R-Va.), a veteran of World War II and the Korean War who went to college because of the 1944 GI Bill, credited Webb for passing the overhaul legislation.

"We recognized that massive reorganization and updating had to be done to this legislation," Warner said. "But it was never fully recognized until Jim Webb came on board. He rallied us."

Details of benefits provided under the bill, as described by the White House, follow:


· Post-9/11 GI Bill is a new Department of Veterans Affairs Education benefit for individuals who served on active duty after 09/10/2001.
· Specifically, the individual must have served for an aggregate period of at least 90 days after 9/10/2001, or serve at least 30 continuous days on active duty after 9/10/2001 and receive a discharge for disability.
· Benefit payment rates range from 40% of the maximum benefit for an individual with at least 90 days but less than 6 months of aggregate service, up to 100% of the benefit for individuals with at least 36 months of aggregate service or 30 continuous days and a discharge due to a service connected disability.
· In general, individuals will remain eligible for benefits for 15 years from the date of last discharge or release from a period of active duty of at least 90 continuous days.

Benefit Payment
· Instead of one monthly payment to the beneficiary each month, as is typical under existing education benefit programs, there will be three different payments made under the Post-9/11 GI Bill:
1. Tuition and Fees (paid directly to the school)
2. Monthly housing allowance (paid to the individual)
3. Books and supplies stipend (paid to the individual)
· Individuals may be eligible for payment of their actual tuition and fees up to the highest amount of established charges for full-time, undergraduate training at a public Institution of Higher Learning (IHL) in the State the student is attending.
· The housing allowance is equivalent to Basic Allowance for Housing for an E-5 with dependents based on the zip code of the school where the student is enrolled. However, active duty service members, anyone training at ½ time or less, and those pursuing entirely distance learning are not eligible for the monthly housing allowance.
· A books and supplies stipend of up to $1,000 per year can be paid, which is prorated based upon the student's payment rate. Active duty members are not eligible for this payment.

Transfer of Entitlement
· On or after August 1, 2009, DoD may allow an individual to elect to transfer entitlement to one or more dependents if he/she:
o Has served at least 6 years in the Armed Forces; and
o Agrees to serve at least another 4 years in the Armed Forces
· DoD determines eligibility for transferability and may, by regulation, impose additional eligibility requirements and limit the number of months transferable.

Yellow Ribbon Program
· Schools may voluntarily enter into an agreement with VA to pay established charges not covered under the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
· Under this agreement, VA will match each additional dollar provided by the school (up to 50 percent of the established charges not already covered under chapter 33).
· This benefit is only available to individuals entitled to the 100 percent benefit rate.

Posted at 11:59 AM ET on Aug 3, 2009  | Category:  Education
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These vets who are working hard to get an education deserve a good job. If they get a tech education they face H-1b's from India and China getting jobs at lower wages. Let's stop H-1b completely and forever so that all vets who work hard for an education actually get a job as well.

The vets who talk here of their effort at an education are being sand bagged by the H-1b program. Does the same Congress that sends them to be maimed by IED's also mock their efforts at education by the H-1b program? Does Mark Warner favor his VC buds over Jim Webb's vets?

Posted by: OldAtlantic | August 6, 2009 12:41 AM

markone, you are a moron. Your boy Bush cut veteran benefits. McCain supported cutting VA benefits.

Scumbag Republicans; Democrats are doing something positive for the vets and all you do is whine.

Posted by: camera_eye_11 | August 3, 2009 8:55 PM

This is a good thing. I got $8,100 for college under the Montgomery GI bill. Of that, I paid in a 3rd from a E1-4 pay. That’s not much, but loans and work got me through. Given where I came from, I would have never become an officer of an Investment Bank without it.

I’ve paid that back many times over in taxes....And that’s a story America needs to repeat… often.

America gets substantial returns whenever we have the wisdom to invest in groups willing to work, and no group is more willing to work than veterans.

Posted by: callmeishmael1 | August 3, 2009 8:29 PM

Well, it looks like the idiotic conservatives are out in force today. You people disgust me. Anytime, the government tries to do something good for the American people, you come out with your stupid right-wing blather about how inefficient the government is and how it screws everything up that it touches. Yet, when a proposal is put forth to have the government compete with private industry in a field such as health care, you morons turn about and start shooting your mouth off about unfair competition that will drive private business out of business. With you, the only encouragement I get is from polls showing how minuscule your numbers are compared to the whole of the American people.

Posted by: Caliguy55 | August 3, 2009 8:16 PM

here is the only way for republican and democrats to scare the hell out of these politicians who take it for granted that the veterans are going to back one party at any election,change your affiliation to INDEPENDENT.NEVER EVER let our veteran orginazations back any one who is running for office before the dopes not make sense for us vets. to put our votes to any one party is the worst thing we can do,with our votes ioncluding our families and friends we could be a strong reason for the delagates not to take us for granted.

Posted by: SISSD1 | August 3, 2009 6:50 PM

I do not support giving "post 9/11" GI benefits to the Military that go to an illegal, immoral, unethical conflict. On principle, they should go to jail, rather than go to Iraq, or Afghanistan. I do not want to spend my tax money giving them reducation. This government needs to bring everybody home, and bring all the money home.

Posted by: linda_521 | August 3, 2009 6:27 PM

What a shame the military has become so blue collar no potential Prez--not Clinton, not Baby Bush, not Obmama--need serve. Just flap their jaws about how brave and honorable it is. For the sons/daughters of the real working class!

While the pol's sit in splendid houses, eating fine food and sucking the public tit.


Enough of these softy pieces of CR-P: "I LOVE Amurrica, long as I have nothing to risk and can make you idiots pick up the tab! My country 'Tis of Me!"

Posted by: mftill | August 3, 2009 6:21 PM

Obama care what a crock....look at the condition of veteran hospitals, the quality of care, the waits, the filth, the frustration, the agony and dispair of our vets....

And what about American Indian care....awful, plain awful...

So you want a public got it....Vet care, American Indian Care, Amtrak, Fanny Mae, Congress, Post Office, DMV's......

You have to be a real dumb bunny not see your "public option" is the Death Warden's option....they die!!!

Posted by: markone | August 3, 2009 5:57 PM

America and the Commander-in-Chief owes a debt to the American Service Members. They work for less than their civilian counterpartrs, put thier lives in harms way each and every day. Live in substandard housing (according to the goverment figures) Now their health care for dependents is being farmed out to civiliian contractors and they have to pay a sur charge. And the best of all now they want to include the military health care systen in the Public Halth care so they can do less especiall for disable or retired members. Not counting what they will do to our families and those still on active duty in foreignlands without thier families. Yep they owe the American Military a debt, unfortunately they seem to forget who stands in the breach and defends this coutnry on both domestic and foreign soil with thier lifes blood. Dammed sure not the politicial rabble in Congress or the White House from what I am seeing now.

Posted by: jmsmaxwell | August 3, 2009 5:56 PM

Great. I'm looking forward to Obama reinstating class 8 benefits for all those that were cheated out of them because they were never notified that they had to register in order to receive them. They were cut out by Bush, with the agreement of the Democrats, without notice to those affected. Once cut out, they could never be reinstated. No GI bill is complete without benefits to ALL veterans. Anything less is unforgivable.

Posted by: sonny_sky | August 3, 2009 5:37 PM

eschotta 1: 2 combat tours in SEA - go call somebody else names, and, while you're at it: grow up!

Posted by: sundog2 | August 3, 2009 5:36 PM

I think the new GI Bill is great and all, and I won't complain. However, my husband has been unemployed for almost eight months now. He is currently attempting to enroll in NOVA Community College, but unfortunately, we do not have the money to pay the tuition to the school up front, as they did not secure a deal with the Dept. of Veteran's Affairs, and the school demands payment by July 31st or by 5:00 pm the day after he enrolls. Due to the current backlog at the VA, his benefits will not be processed until sometime in mid-Sept. Classes are scheduled to start on Aug 24th. The catch is, he can't qualify for benefits until he enrolls, his enrollment will be dropped by the school if we can't pay - NO EXEPTIONS for veteran's attempting to utilize the benefit. So, how is it a benefit, if we can't afford to use it? Just wondering, but who is the genius that picked Aug. 1? Most colleges start at the end of Aug. and demand payment before that. I also would have expected that some sort of arrangement would have been made, so that students could attend classes while the red tape is being sorted out - you know there will be... it's the VA!! Like I said, I won't complain, I just don't know where to get the money so that my husband can use it. I can't imagine that we are the only ones in this type of situation.

Posted by: guardwife | August 3, 2009 5:17 PM

Pledge all you want Mr. Obama - you are
proving to be a huge disappointment.

Small victories won at the cost of
healthcare for millions - is NO victory,
there will still be millions upon millions
of Americans - Yeah, I said American - dying
a horrific death because Obama is allowing
healthcare to slide, and the minimal
changes that will happen - will continue
to divide the wealthy from the middle-class and destitute.

Hope? I don't think so...

Is there anyone out there that can
inspire integrity and honesty in Washington DC?

Obama isn't even trying!

Posted by: theman_in_black | August 3, 2009 4:54 PM

When is Jim Webb going to be for the people of Virginia including vets looking for jobs? Men's median wages are the same as in 1973, see p60-235.pdf graph page 19. How many vets are getting bailout bonuses on Wall Street? Most vets are in the below median wage group. Those are ones most hit by legal immigration which is over 1 million a year. Why do we give out student visas? Why do children of communist Chinese profs in Beijing get all paid Ph.D's while vet kids get below median wage low security jobs for their entire life?

Did vets fight in Iraq so that the kids of Chinese party members would get the Ph.D. physics fellowships at Stanford? When Webb sees the child of a Chinese prof in Beijing taking a top job in the US he is the first to smile at them. He is the first to scowl at us as racists for pointing it out.

How is Webb for military when he wants Chinese to be on the fast track at Silicon Valley jobs and get our tech know-how? How many kids of vets are being hired in Silicon Valley compared to children of Chinese profs in China? Webb doesn't know what loyalty is. Webb thinks loyalty is racism.

Webb has chosen to leave us in the lurch rather than be thought of as racist by his Hollywood paymasters. What price loyalty now?

Posted by: OldAtlantic | August 3, 2009 4:49 PM

Being A Viet-nam Veteran of 4 tours I really hope that our young men and women take the opportunity that has served or is serving to further thier education. First of all I see people who want our service members out and justly so, but on the other hand we are not fighting on the streerts here against Al Quaida either. Everyone wants to blame Bush for Iraq, better go back and see why asn't this prevented before Bush took office. Awful funny isn't that Ms Clinton is the Secretary of State and her husband could have prevented what happen if he gave a damn. It is so easy to blame, the person that is in office for something we don't like after they are gone. But I remember someone on the platform saying our troops are coming home the day I take president, mmmm instead we sent our troops to Afgahistan and cause another major fight. Everyone who voted for this guy, he told you what he was gonna do and now it not going the way he had you to belive in his lies. The one that got me upset is asking me what weapons I have and taxing me for it then want my fingerprints and me to pay for a background check. How they going to do that when they cannot get background checks done on government people. 2012 IS COMMING AND OBAMA YOU WILL LOSE!!!!

Posted by: Vetcorp67 | August 3, 2009 4:37 PM

Army Retired: You may not be entirely aware that Bush started a war in Iraq without justifiable cause - i.e. a war of choice, and your fellow Army troops paid, and continue to pay, the price. How about laying off the crudeness and appreciating someone with enough moxie to try to save military lives instead of wasting them. Retired USAF.

Posted by: sundog2 | August 3, 2009 2:11 PM

Quit your whining lib. Got anything new from the liberal playbook?

"We can't win in Iraq"
"The war is lost"
"The Marines are murderers"
Quotes from the party of appeasers!!

Posted by: cschotta1 | August 3, 2009 4:31 PM

I feel good about this GI Bill; however, what about those of us who served in Vietnam? I mean, the bill is there and all, but it is soo difficult for some of us to collect on the benefits, especially those of us who suffer from the PTSD, and other ailments brought on from exposure to Agent Orange; such as: diabetes, high blood pressure, skin ailments, visionary issues, and anemia.

Posted by: michelangelocooper | August 3, 2009 4:20 PM

I do not believe him. I believe he will prove his real colors when he MAKES me change my healthcare from the military's substitute for the life long care I was promised to the healthcare he comes up with. VA Healthcare is in shambles and they all slap themselves on the back and tell each other how great they are...what a load that is. For the current force to get the GI Bill they earn with blood and sweat they have to give up part of their where is the fairness in that. I will believe these .... when they take the same healthcare and retirement the military has to take, including at least 20 years service not 2, 4, 6, or 8 years. What a crock.

Posted by: staterighter | August 3, 2009 4:15 PM

The only question here is what is in this for Obama. Obama is really beginning to stink. Democrats call everyone else liers but it's the Obama man that tells the tallest tails. "There will be no tax increase for middle class." Oops, another fib coming down the pike.

Posted by: SouthernCross2 | August 3, 2009 3:54 PM

Kids sent to the Cousin Mohammad Sausage factory come back in body bags, in pieces, or with Depleted Uranium disease. They have no need of the funds, with short lives filled with PTSD and radio active.
Bring the kids home and send no more.

No more money to Pakistan to allow Obama to feed Osama our kids on an escalator.

Posted by: dottydo | August 3, 2009 3:53 PM

Obama just cut military spending, so if his mouth is moving, he is just lying again.

End the war in Afganistan and Iraq and bring our troops home right NOW!!!!

Posted by: dottydo | August 3, 2009 3:47 PM

Si Dieu n'existait pas, il faudrait l'inventer.

Posted by: edtroyhampton | August 3, 2009 2:50 PM




An entire civilian secret police apparatus that is covertly committing a silent POLITICIDE revolves around the WARRANTLESS USE OF GPS DEVICES -- to stalk, harass, and yes, torture, unjustly targeted American citizens.

President Obama could disable the mechanics of this persecution matrix with the stroke of a pen... executive order banning the warrantless covert GPS tracking of individuals, even the use of cellphones to track a citizen's comings and goings without a court warrant.

Mr. President, this Gestapo-like, Stasi-like apparatus has destroyed far too many innocent Americans targeted for ideological or hate-motivated reasons.


And stop the use of microwave / laser radiation "directed energy weapons" as a silent tool being used by authoritarians to degrade the health of their "targets" -- and even to manipulate their moods, their sleep patterns, even their neurological and physiological "vitals."

OR (if link is corrupted / disabled): RE: "GESTAPO USA"

Posted by: scrivener50 | August 3, 2009 2:44 PM

Larry G62 wrote: "The lowlife scumbag spent two years undermining our military and its mission against our enemies.
Now the phony piece of feces panders to them. What a disgrace the flop eared liar is. Army Retired"

Being that you are a retired soldier (20 + yrs, correct?) I would hope that you could articulate a reason for being against this GI Bill other than because it is from someone that you obviously hate. Can you put aside your politics and look at the benefit of this bill? I am thankful that today's senior military leadership (both officer and enlisted) is not as close-minded as you are.

Posted by: milofficer | August 3, 2009 2:35 PM

As with all previous Presidents when the action gets tough they take off for a foreign trip and head for the veterans groups. I suspect this means a 'secret' trip to visit the front. Now why is it that most of the people making the decisions to send the troops off have never served nor will their children?

Posted by: KBlit | August 3, 2009 2:33 PM

Emmett Till did nothing but whistle at a white woman. "He loved pranks, he loved fun, he loved jokes... in Mississippi, people didn't think the same jokes were funny." Carolyn Bryant later asserted that Till had grabbed her at the waist and asked her for a date.
White racism started with white males and his 'insecurities' and his fear of white women being sexually active with black men and as a result start producing black/white babies.

That battle has long been lost. President Barack Obama is a product of that fear.

Just as the white racist who gouged out Emmett Till's eye. You are gouging out you're own eyes, by calling everyone else a racist when that's impossible.

Believe it or not, there is only one racist group here in the United States, U.S. history books prove's it.

oh, and stop the inbreeding!

Posted by: opp88 | August 3, 2009 2:20 PM

Army Retired: You may not be entirely aware that Bush started a war in Iraq without justifiable cause - i.e. a war of choice, and your fellow Army troops paid, and continue to pay, the price. How about laying off the crudeness and appreciating someone with enough moxie to try to save military lives instead of wasting them. Retired USAF.

Posted by: sundog2 | August 3, 2009 2:11 PM

Well LarryG62, I'm glad you lived to tell the tale of your heroic service in Vietnam. And even though you talk trash about the current CIC, I can appreciate your contribution to the American cause.

I would remind you though that anybody, including John Kerry, who volunteers to go in harm's way to fight the enemy for his country deserves respect. And the least we can do for them is give them an education. Heck, we really should throw in some beer money too.

Posted by: Heerman532 | August 3, 2009 2:09 PM


Nope, I served a full career, unlike some of your hero democrat democrat mutts. Served twice in Vietnam and during that period I was introduced to liberal heroes like cowardly John Kerry.
I stand by my comments about your flop eared appeaser Obama. They guy tried to undermine the troops for a couple of years(while he did practically nothing in the Senate) and now he tries to get all chummy with vets.
He's is a liar and a scoundrel who deserves contempt, and not a bit of respect.

Posted by: LarryG62 | August 3, 2009 1:57 PM

This is a good deal for the veterans and for America.

Magoo's opposition to the bill, on the grounds that personnel would leave the military, was stupid then and continues to be an illogical, asinine argument.

If magoo wants to keep people in the military until we 'win', or they die, he should just push for the draft.

Veterans deserve better. Period.

Posted by: Heerman532 | August 3, 2009 1:53 PM

Well intentioned Bill, but poorly executed so far by Congress and the VA. The funding variance from state to state is staggering. No tuition assistance in California; $71.50 per credit hour in Massachusetts ($858 per 12-credit semester). That is nothing. Most private schools charge $15,000-$20,000 per semester in those states. In Texas, the Bill pays $1471 per credit hour; New York, $1010; Wyoming $94; heck, in the US Virgin Islands you get $106 per credit! Guess you won't see any Vets at Califronia or Massachusetts-based private schools. "They" will tell you the Yellow Ribbon Program balances it, but that is only available to those vets that qualify for 100% GI Bill funding. What about the rest of them? Great idea, poor execution. Needs to be reworked ASAP.

Posted by: Patriot211 | August 3, 2009 1:52 PM

Larrypsycho, based on your disgusting comments, I am pretty sure that your "retired" status was more of a "removal for psychiatric reasons" status.

Posted by: LABC | August 3, 2009 1:42 PM

"..who faked military records"


Is that you Dan? Dan Rather, is that you? LOL!

Posted by: ChangeWhat | August 3, 2009 1:29 PM

Let's all get our facts straight, shall we?

The new GI Bill was introduced by Sen. Jim Webb(D)-Va. It passed with bi-partisan support, by a veto-proof majority of 75-22. President Bush had threatened a veto. Presidential nominee John McCain also opposed the bill, but offered an alternative.

Obama was present and voted "aye" on the bill....McCain was not present for the vote.

McCain's argument against the bill, as it was approved, is a very valid argument and he was making the argument in light of the fact that he could potentially be CinC.

While I have the highest regard for our service members, and they deserve all that we can offer them, McCain made a very valid point - Giving GI's 100% tuition etc. after serving 36 mos active duty is a disincentive for those GI's to become non-commissioned officers, whom McCain calls the "backbone of all the services". Reducing retention rates of experienced soldiers should not be a goal of the military. McCain, and Bush, would have preferred to see a sliding scale of benefits based on longer terms of service, so that the military would have the benefit of greater experience.

Posted by: boosterprez | August 3, 2009 1:28 PM

Barry really is an illusionist, a snake oil salesman, a Radical head fake artist. "Jobs will be saved and created", "You will be able to keep your insurance", "That's not the Reverend I knew". "There will be NO new taxes." Barry is such a prankster.

Posted by: ChangeWhat | August 3, 2009 1:27 PM

>The lowlife scumbag spent two years undermining our military and its mission against our enemies.
Now the phony piece of feces panders to them
Yes and your lowlife scumbag former president and vice-president, the phony pieces of feces who faked military records or didn't serve at all sent over 4500 men and women to their deaths in a useless war. Those dead kids won't benefit from this, will they?

Posted by: upperdeck4 | August 3, 2009 1:13 PM

Actually, "Bush's actions" consisted of signing a bill, period. The bill was drafted by a Democratic senator and supported by a bipartisan effort. Perhaps folks who begrudge veterans an education benefit in exchange for their service would like to share in the opportunity for a "free" education by asking their elected representatives to reinstate a military draft to permit universal service? No? I didn't think so.

Posted by: sundog2 | August 3, 2009 1:05 PM

The lowlife scumbag spent two years undermining our military and its mission against our enemies.
Now the phony piece of feces panders to them.
What a disgrace the flop eared liar is.
Army Retired

Posted by: LarryG62 | August 3, 2009 1:00 PM

Taking credit for Bush's actions... What a guy. Was he even in town for this vote when it was taken or was this part of the defense funding bill that he voted against?

Posted by: gmh123 | August 3, 2009 12:56 PM

Good news and bad news. Good news - we are investing in America's veterans. Bad news - this bill continues to perpetuate the sky-rocketing costs of an undergraduate college education. The schools can continue to raise tuition, room/board, at double the inflation rate annually. Who pays? The middle class as they are the only people paying actual $$$ into the system.

Posted by: jhpbriton | August 3, 2009 12:41 PM

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