Coachella Valley veterans should immediately use benefits they have rightly earned because they could be cut or eliminated, Thomas S. Freeman, a retired defense commissioner for Riverside County, urged on Friday.

Freeman’s word of caution came on the heels of a an announcement from the VA that effective Aug. 1, 2018, the entitlement available under the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) program will be reduced from 45 months to 36 months, but in October, the monthly allowance for eligible recipients will increase, according to the Official Blog of the U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

These changes, part of the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017, aka “Forever GI Bill,” were passed by Congress last summer.

The DEA program offers education and training opportunities to eligible dependents of Veterans who are permanently and totally disabled due to a service-related condition, or of Veterans who died while on active duty or from a service-related condition.

DEA benefits may be used for degree and certificate programs, apprenticeships and on-the-job training.  Surviving spouses-can use benefits for correspondence courses and remedial, deficiency and some approved refresher courses.

“Valley veterans’ dependents will see benefit eligibility cuts under this plan by 12 months,” Freeman told Uken Report. “This may signal the end of “forever benefits” for the posot-911 era veterans. Our veterans, from every era of service, deserve better. Especially the survivors of those killed or disabled in the line of duty.”

Additionally, Freeman cautioned, “We must encourage fellow veterans to use the benefits they have earned or those benefits will also be terminated or cut.”

What you need to know now:

  • If you’re already taking classes, or will start taking classes by July 31, 2018, you remain eligible for up to 45 months of education entitlement benefits
  • Beginning Oct.1, 2018, all students will see a significant increase in the monthly benefit
    Eligible DEA recipients will be entitled to a monthly allowance of:
  • $1,224 for full-time coursework, compared to $1,041 currently as of Oct. 1, 2017
  • $967 for three-quarter time coursework, compared to $780 currently as of Oct. 1, 2017
  • $710 for half-time coursework, compared to $519 currently as of Oct. 1, 2017

These increases go into effect Oct. 1, 2018.

To find out more about DEA benefits, please visit the DEA page on our website.

If you have further questions about your entitlement or eligibility, please call 1–888-GI-BILL-1 (1–888–442–4551). If you use the Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD), the federal number is 711. You can also visit the Forever GI Bill website at FGIB website.

The Veterans Benefits Administration’s Education Service delivers GI Bill education benefits to Veterans, service members, and their families.  Since 1944, the GI Bill has helped millions of Veterans pay for college, graduate school and training programs.