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Compton: Education benefit eligibility expanded

By George Compton
Saturday, July 19, 2008

Q. I understand education benefits are being improved. When should the new benefits take effect?

A. The Post-9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Act of 2008 was recently signed into law, and the benefits are payable on Aug. 1, 2009, toward training completed after July 31, 2009.

To be eligible for the benefits, veterans must have served on active duty on or after Sept. 11, 2001. The new law improves eligibility from 10 to 15 years after leaving service.

The new law includes tuition and fees not to exceed the most expensive in-state institution, a monthly housing allowance and an allowance for books and supplies.

Also, upon approval by the Department of Defense, it is now possible to transfer benefits to a spouse and dependent children.

I am sure that between now and August 2009, there will be a lot more information available. I recommend periodic visits to the VA Web site at http://www.GIBILL.va.gov to stay informed.

Q. I know there are some benefits that only apply to wartime veterans. I served in Europe from 1994-96. Would that make me a wartime veteran?

A. Any veteran who has served since Aug. 2, 1990, is considered a wartime-era veteran, wherever they served.

Q. My doctor prescribed a new medication, and before I see my VA doctor, I would like to know if the VA can furnish that medication.

A. You can check whether the medication is on the VA formulary by going to the VA Web site (http://www.va.gov). Once there, go to benefits, scroll down to pharmacy benefits and then go to National Formulary.

— George Compton, retired Army colonel, is the veterans service officer for the County of Ventura, Human Services Agency. Send your questions to Veterans Service Office, 1701 Pacific Ave., Suite 110, Oxnard, CA 93033; phone number: 385-6366; fax: 385-6371; or e-mail: George.Compton@ventura.org.

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