NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC)-- They fought for their country. Now, the troops are about to get a big thank you. It's the new and improved "Forever G.I. Bill."
The measure was signed into law by President Trump last August and most of the provisions take effect August 1st, 2018.
It will expand the existing Post-9-11 G.I. Bill program by $3 billion over ten years.
The bill increases payments to vets with less than one year of active duty service; it restores benefits to veterans whose schools abruptly closed; it awards full GI Bill benefits to all Purple Heart recipients, and increases aid for vets pursuing science, technology, engineering and mathematics degrees.
The bill eases requirements for National Guard members and reservists, survivors and dependents.
Most importantly, the bill ends the old 15-year limit on education benefits, and allows them forever.
Old Dominion University Associate Director for Military operations David Radcliffe says, it's about time.
"Because they've always had a time limit on when you have to use your GI Bill benefits,"he said. "Now, it's going to be forever."
And for a place like ODU, ranked "Best for Vets" in Virginia by Military Times, and, with its acclaimed distance learning program, the bill will mean even more vets in more places, able to get the educations they need.
"I've got students on every nuclear ship in the Navy," said Bill Gideon, from ODU's Distance Learning program. "I've got students that are all over the world, every kind of remote station you can imagine that are in the programs, taking the hundred or so classes, programs that we have. So, it's a blessing for ODU to have all the options and this Forever GI Bill is going to help that a lot."
In a rare show of bipartisan ship, the Forever GI Bill passed the House 405-to-0, and in the Senate, by unanimous consent, meaning not one lawmaker voter against it.