East Texas veterans will benefit from new GI Bill changes

By Christel Phillips - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Recent Hudson High School graduate, Justin Ehrhardt, left Monday afternoon headed to the U.S. Army.  Justin said, "The way that the economy is going I just decided, after a long talk with the family, I just decided to get up and do it."

The new GI Bill and other Army benefits helped make Justin's decision a little easier.

Over the next 10 years an estimated 78 billion dollars will help veteran soldiers receive higher education.

Under the new Montgomery GI bill, veterans who served after September 11th terrorist attacks are eligible for full tuition fees for 4 years at a state university. They can also receive a monthly housing stipend and up to 1,000 dollars annually for books.

"That's a great way to help you get to college and get it paid for," Justin adds.

U. S. Army recruiter, Staff Sgt. William Velez feels the biggest change is it will give veteran soldiers transferability.  Velez explains,  "For soldiers like me that are career soldiers I can take that college money, and pass it on to my son or pass it on to my wife, to continue her education, or when my son graduates high school, he can use some of those benefits that I earned once I retire."

Velez says there are other benefits as well. "Another bigger window opportunity, before soldier only had 10 years to use the bill, now they have extended that to 15 years."

The new benefits are just a way to thanks to our soldiers. "They {U.S. Government} have done to it just to add a little plus on top of everything.  A way to say thanks for what you do for our country," Sgt. Velez says with a smile.

Justin plans to see where the Army will take him.  "I'll see, maybe I will make a career out of it, and if I don't when my three years is up, I plan to attend Texas A & M University for engineering," says Justin.

But he does have an education to fall back on.

For more information on the GI Bill click here.

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