New G.I. Bill helps vets pay for college

By Nick Guillory - email | bio | Twitter

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - The new "Post 9/11 G.I. Bill" went into effect today. This new investment is the largest of its kind since World War II.

Over the next decade the government will rollout more than 70 billion dollars for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

One Ark-La-Tex soldier hopes to earn her college degree with the assistance of the new program.

Abigail Santamaria is in the army reserves and said in these tough economic times any help certainty won't hurt.

"I think it's a good benefit to have.  The money helps to go to school and to be able to support yourself while you're going to school fulltime," said Abigail Santamaria

This new change to the G.I. Bill provides upfront tuition, a monthly living allowance and a thousand dollars for books.

You must have served at least 90 days in either Afghanistan or Iraq to qualify or suffer from a discharge due to injury in a warzone.

It's a change that many service members like Abigail said motivates soldiers overseas.

"I think it motivates them to if they decide to get out or go to school while in they still have the opportunity to not worry so much about paying for school and trying to live," she said.

It's not only helping soldiers.  Military men and women who aren't interested in going to school can pass it along to a child or spouse.

As Abigail and her husband both try to make it through school now, they said this would also remove some of the financial burdens facing military families these days.

"Right now, with the economy in hard times with that benefit it will be easier for families to support in the future," Alfredo Santamaria said.

Leaders said this effort is aimed at transforming the lives of a new generation of veterans. The VA expects to serve nearly half a million veterans or their family members in the first year. So far, the government has already processed 112,000 claims. Another 25,000 service members want to transfer their benefits to a spouse or child.

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