Afghanistan Christmas

Members of the U.S. military eat Christmas dinner at the Resolute Support Headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Dec. 25, 2017. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

Rahmat Gul

A bill introduced by U.S. Rep. John Katko and a Democratic colleague would enable more military service members to transfer Post-9/11 G.I. Bill education benefits to their spouses or children. 

Under the current program, military personnel with at least six years of service can transfer education benefits to immediate family if they commit to serving four more years. Service members may also transfer assistance if they have logged at least 10 years and commit to serving the maximum amount of time allowed. 

The legislation sponsored by Katko, R-Camillus, and U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly, a Virginia Democrat, would allow active duty or retired military service members who have at least 20 years of active duty service, including at least 90 days of service after 9/11, to transfer education benefits to their spouses and children. 

Incentives for additional military service would remain in place, but the goal is to expand the ability of military service members to transfer unused education assistance. 

"Our veterans have made countless sacrifices to protect, defend and serve this great nation," Katko said in a statement. "They answered a call of duty that only the bravest men and women are willing to answer, and we need to do everything we can to help them and their families." 

The Post-9/11 G.I. Bill provides tuition benefits to individuals with at least 90 days of active duty service after Sept. 10, 2001. The program is also available for honorably discharged veterans or veterans who were discharged with a service-connected disability after 30 days. 

The program can be used to pay for college or a job training program, such an entrepreneurship training or vocational training. 

Through the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, eligible personnel may receive up to 36 months of education benefits, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. 

The Post 9/11 G.I. Bill was established to help veterans, primarily those who fought in Afghanistan and Iraq, establish careers after completing their military service. 

The program does provide opportunities for service members to transfer education benefits, but there are limitations under the current program. The bill supported by Connolly and Katko would expand who is eligible for transfer the aid. 

Connolly called his proposal a "clear win-win."

"We have another tool for retaining talent and ensuring a strong military, and it allows us to uphold our promise to veterans who have served so honorably," he said. 

The bill was introduced Dec. 18. It has been referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs for review.