The following Q&As are provided in response to a number of questions the Office of Commissioned Corps Operations has received concerning the Post-9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33):
Q. Can I transfer Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to my dependents?
A. Officers of the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service (Corps) are not eligible to transfer Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) educational benefits to their dependents. While the VA is responsible for administering payment of transferred benefits, the Department of Defense is responsible for determining eligibility for transfer of entitlement to dependents. The statute provides that the Secretary of Defense may authorize the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Homeland Security to determine if their members are eligible to transfer benefits to dependents. By this language, the statute excludes officers in the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service and officers in the Commissioned Corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration from transferability. There are several groups advocating to get this exclusion changed. But for the present, transferability is not applicable to Corps officers.
Q. Who is eligible to enroll in the Post-9/11 GI Bill program?
A. Anyone who serves at least 90 days of active duty after September 11, 2001 is eligible to enroll in the Post-9/11 GI Bill program. This includes members who enrolled in earlier programs such as the original GI Bill, the post-Viet Nam Veterans Education Assistance Program (VEAP) (Chapter 32), or the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) (Chapter 30). It also includes members who declined to enroll in the VEAP or the MGIB.
Q. How much does it cost to enroll in the Post-9/11 GI Bill program?
A. There is no charge for enrollment in the Post-9/11 GI Bill program. The program is free.
Q. How do I enroll in the Post-9/11 GI Bill program?
A. To enroll in the Post-9/11 GI Bill program, go to the VA Web site and follow the links to education benefits or go directly to the VA online application form “VONAPP” at http://vabenefits.vba..va.gov/vonapp/main.asp.
If you are already enrolled in the MGIB and you switch to the Post-9/11 GI Bill, VA will disenroll you from the MGIB.
Q. If I used some of my benefits under the MGIB, what benefits will I get under the Post-9/11 GI Bill program?
A. Members who have remaining entitlement under MGIB and switch to the Post-9/11GI Bill program will only be eligible for benefits equal to the amount of their remaining entitlement under the MGIB. For example, if you have 18 months of entitlement remaining from the 36-month entitlement under MGIB and you switch to the Post-9/11 GI Bill, you will be entitled to 18 months of benefits (36-18=18). However, if you have used all 36 months of your benefits under MGIB and you switch to the Post-9/11 GI Bill, you can still be eligible for up to 12 months of benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill program. So you may wish to exhaust all of your MGIB benefits before enrolling in the Post-9/11 GI Bill program.
Q. If I switch from the MGIB, will I get a refund of the money I contributed for enrollment?
A. The statute states that an individual may receive a refund of the basic contributions paid toward MGIB as an increase to the last monthly payment of the housing allowance when that individual has exhausted his or her benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. So, a Corps officer cannot receive a refund of the MGIB contribution until separated from active duty. As stated in the Federal Register: “. . .VA has no authority to ignore the statute and pay the refund when an individual is not eligible to receive the monthly housing allowance.”
Q. Is there a deadline by which I must make a decision?
A. There is no deadline at this time.
Q. I went online to enroll and the VONAPP application asked for the name and start date of my program even though I’m not applying for benefits. How do I handle this?
A. For quick implementation, the VA elected to use the same online form for enrollment in the Post-9/11 GI Bill as that used for service members to ‘apply’ for education benefits, VA Form 22-1990. When completing the form for ‘enrollment’ only, leave these blocks blank.
For more information:
Corps officers are strongly encouraged to go to the VA Web site and review all information pertaining to the MGIB and the Post-9/11 GI Bill in order to be better enabled to make an informed decision based on the officer’s unique circumstances and future plans.
If you have questions after reviewing the information at the VA Web site, please email Norman Chichester in the Office of Commissioned Corps Operations at
firstname.lastname@example.org or call 240-453-6034.