Herbert Taylor learned a lot about leadership, unity, and perseverance during his time in the military, but when he was medically discharged in 2008, he couldn't rely on those qualities alone to get another job.
"A lot of things we do in the military, we get the training but we don't get the certifications behind it," he says.
So, Taylor enrolled at Fort Valley State University and is now studying to become a school counselor. He also spends time helping fellow veterans at the VECTR Center in Warner Robins, but he says none of that would be possible without the GI Bill to help pay for classes.
"This gives us an opportunity on the outside to find what we love to do in the military and get the certifications that back the knowledge we currently have," he says.
Now, more people will have that same opportunity. This year, lawmakers passed an expanded version of the benefits in what is now referred to as the Forever GI Bill.
"There are a lot of big changes, good changes," says Patricia Ross, Executive Director of the VECTR Center.
Under the expanded benefits, veterans who leave the military after January 1, 2013 will not be limited to using their benefits within 15 years.
"Either they've changed their career or lost their job, they'll be able to go back to school whenever it meets their schedule," Ross says.
The bill also expands eligibility requirements, especially for Reservists. For example, Ross says veterans injured while serving will be allowed to accrue time toward their GI benefits while they undergo medical treatments.
Ross says the VECTR center has already helped more than 1,100 veterans with education benefits since it opened a year ago. She hopes to help even more veterans who now qualify under the expanded benefits,
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