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Local veterans speak after SCOTUS opens door to more education benefits for veterans, their families

Posted at 5:09 PM, Apr 18, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-18 18:09:34-04

KILLEEN, Texas — The Supreme Court has ruled that veterans who served before and after 9/11 are entitled to both the Montgomery GI Bill and the Post 9/11 Bill’s benefits — benefits that help pay for higher education for veterans and their children.

”Depending on the time that you came in, some were eligible for both but they told us, were not eligible,” said Willie Keller, Commander of VFW Post 12209.

“You had to declare one or the other but the Supreme court just decided that you can actually use both.”

This is exciting news for veterans like Ken Wilkerson and his wife who chose opposite GI bills and passed some of those benefits to their kids.

”We would like to be able to exhaust the benefits that we’ve used,” Wilkerson said.

“Under the current policy, the policy prior to the decision, we’ve got a benefit that’s just sitting on the shelf that we’ll never use.”

These are benefits that could go to their son who is a freshman in college — Wilkerson knows his family isn’t the only one this helps.

”We’re talking thousands more that will be able to access education who normally wouldn’t be able to do so,” Wilkerson said.

This ruling is just the start of the process but a huge win for veteran benefits — a battle the Veterans of Foreign Wars fights every day.

”At one point in time, there was no education benefits, no GI Bill,” Keller said.

“That's one of the things the VFW did, was to go to congress and lobby for education benefits.”

Universities like Texas A&M Central Texas tell me implementing this change will take time.

”We’re going to try a push out communications as fast as we can,” said Joshua Jones, Assistant Director Military and Veteran Services for Texas A&M University Central Texas.

“Once we understand it and are able to provide that information, we’re definitely going to.”

Again, this ruling only opens the door to both GI Bills — the next step is making it work for veterans and their families.