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RI Veterans: Did you know?

RI Veterans: Did you know? 23 September 21 – John A. Cianci

 
September 23, 2021/John Cianci

 

by John A Cianci, Department Veterans Service Officer, 

 

                             Italian American War Veterans (ITAM)

 

Veteran Administration news rules and interpretation that will impact Post-GI 911 monthly Housing Stipend paid to Veteran students

 

Did you know the VA has a new rule that took effect in August requiring Post-9/11 GI bill users to verify he or she is attending class with the Department of Veterans Affair, and this is a monthly requirement?

 

Let’s fast forward to the first of the month, hundreds, if not thousands of Rhode Island veteran students, spouses and dependents eligible for and using the Post-9/11 GI Bill beneficiaries will not receive their monthly stipend, unless they follow the new Veterans Administration rule that requires verification they are attending class.  

 

How do Post-9/11 GI Bill beneficiaries verify to the VA they are attending class? According to – https://blogs.va.gov – after enrolling in courses, students will receive a secure text message from the VA inviting them to opt into text messaging verification. 

 

If you choose not to opt in, contact the at 1-888-GIBILL-1 (1-888-442-4551) and ask a representative to verify enrollment on your behalf. NOTE: Education Call Center (ECC) wait times may be high due to the number of students verifying enrollment each month.

 

If you opt out of text verification and later change your mind, or need to update your mobile number on file, you can opt in by calling the ECC at 1-888-GIBILL-1 (1-888-442-4551).

 

Those who fail to verify their attendance with the VA for two months in a row will have their housing allowance payments withheld until they do so.

 

RINEWSTODAY reached out to veteran students and a son of a Veteran who is a beneficiary of his father’s Post-9/11 GI Bill attending URI and CCRI, and not one of them knew about the new rule or had received a verification text after enrolling in classes. 

 

If you have any questions about the monthly verification requirement or when it applies to you, contact a VA education representative at 1-888-GIBILL (1-888-442-4551) domestically or 001-918-718-5678 overseas. 

 

VETTIP – All veterans using the Post-9/11 GI Bill beneficiaries attending classes utilizing don’t wait until October 1, 2021 to see if your stipend is in process and deposited into your account. Contact the above number before the first of the month and verify if this new rule is applicable to you. 

 

Did you know the VA recently changed interpretations made to the “48 Month Rule” for VR&E and EDU Beneficiaries which could entitled veterans to additional educational benefits, to include those in the past? Who were denied under the previous interpretation of  “48 Month Rule”?

 

Many veterans in the past were unable to complete their degrees and or training programs with the assistance of the Veterans Administration because of the past VA interpretation of the 48 Month Rule; layman’s definition, the VA would not assist a veteran in tuition and other financial means if the veteran used a total of 48 months of education assistance, regardless of the type of education entitlement. 

 

Often, the Veteran would have earned additional education entitlements beyond the 48 months. However, those additional months would remain in the veteran’s entitlement. Unused, since the VA would not approve because of the “48 Month Rule”.

 

A large number of veterans would be forced to pay thousands of dollars in tuition and other expenses as a result of previous interpretation. 

 

Going forward, this new interpretation will benefit veterans who earned and are entitled to educational benefits.

 

VETTIP – If you were a Veteran previous denied using an education benefit because of the “48 Month Rule” interpretation and paid out of pocket to complete your degree or training, we suggest you file a claim for reimbursement to the VA. If you need assistance to help you navigate the process, contact the Italian American War Veterans, Veteran Service Officer for assistance, itamri4vets@gmail.com.

 

Here are some frequent ask questions on the “48 Month Rule”, from  https://www.benefits.va.gov/GIBILL/docs/48_Month_Rule_FAQs.pdf

 

Changes to the “48 Month Rule” for VR&E and EDU Beneficiaries – FAQs 

 

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is committed to improving the Veteran experience by ensuring that all Veterans maximize the benefits they’ve earned. In alignment with this commitment, VA reviewed a long-standing interpretation of a law known informally as the “48- month rule” (38 U.S.C. 3695) and determined a more favorable interpretation of this law would help eligible Veterans maximize their education benefits. Now, Veterans who use Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E) benefits prior to using any other VA education program, such as the Montgomery GI Bill or Post-9/11 GI Bill, can still use up to 48 total months of the other educational assistance benefit programs. 

 

Students:
Q1) What is changing? 

A1) Previously, we counted VRE usage against GI Bill education benefits when applying the 48- Month Rule. We no longer do it. 

 

Q2) How will I find out if I am impacted? 

A2) VA will send a notification letter to those affected by this update. 

 

Q3) Do I have to do anything? 

A3) No, VA will contact those affected by this update. 

 

Q4) Should a Veteran with a service-connected disability using the Post-9/11 GI Bill apply for VR&E benefits if they are about to run out of entitlement? 

A4) Yes, Veterans may apply for Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E) benefits at any time. However, the use of entitlement in any VA education program impacts the amount of remaining VR&E entitlement that a Veteran may be eligible to receive. 

 

It may be possible for a Veteran to have entitlement previously used in a VA education program reclassified as entitlement used in VR&E, which could possibly result in additional entitlement to other VA education programs. However, it is important to note that this process is very limited and restricted by law and regulation; not every Veteran with a service-connected disability will qualify for retroactive induction. 

 

Q5) What can I do to ensure that I have the correct number of months of entitlement for GI Bill education benefits? 

A5) If you are a new applicant to GI Bill education benefits, your monthly entitlement calculation was computed without including any past entitlement used under VR&E. If you are currently using education benefits, your monthly entitlement will be re-calculated to remove any months of VR&E previously charged as prior VA training. You will receive a separate letter advising of your corrected remaining months of entitlement. If you used education benefits in the past, and already used 48 months of entitlement AND your period of eligibility (i.e., your delimiting date) has passed, there will be no adjustments to your awards. 

 

Q6) I was denied benefits under the former interpretation, can I recover those benefits ? 

A6) If you believe you were improperly denied education benefits, AND you have not reached your delimiting date, you may submit VA Form 22-1995, showing which school you are now enrolled or wishing to attend. A review of your record will occur and if you have additional months of entitlement, you will be notified in an award letter. If VA is unable to provide additional months of entitlement, you will receive a letter explaining the reasons why. 

 

Q7) Can the SCO at my University/College help me understand this new development with the 48-Month Rule? 

A7)VA is planning to provide appropriate training to SCOs. For additional clarification, you should contact the VA Education Call Center at 1-888-442-4551 (1-888-GIBILL1). 

 

Q8) Will I be contacted directly by VA if I am due relief from the 48-Month Rule? A8) If you are currently receiving education benefits, you will be notified, by letter, if the 

number of months of entitlement have changed due to this update of the 48-month limitation. 

 

Q9) Why does it matter that VR&E benefits are to be used first and then EDU benefits? 

A9) The wording of the law makes a distinction between the order of usage. Each beneficiary should discuss with their VR&E case manager to determine the best way to use VR&E benefits vs. education benefits. The VA will help guide you to the correct decision based on your individual circumstance. 

 

Additional Stakeholder Questions: 

Q10) What information is available to students to prevent being denied benefits under the 48-Month Rule? 

A10) Beneficiaries receive information explaining entitlement limits when they receive their Certificate of Eligibility and on award letters. Also, the GI Bill website has general information explaining the impact of using more than one program, and the GI Bill Customer Help portal provides access to a wealth of questions with answers and the ability to ask specific questions. 

 

The Education Call Center is staffed to answer questions on this topic at 1-888-442-4551. 

 

Q11) What is the significance of using VR&E benefits prior to GI Bill education benefits? 

A11) 38 U.S.C. § 3695(b) requires VR&E to count any entitlement used in a VA education program toward the possible 48months of entitlement. This update does not change this requirement. Therefore, entitlement previously used in any VA education program impacts the amount of possible remaining entitlement that may be used for VR&E benefits. However, under the new interpretation, prior use of VR&E benefits does not impact possible remaining entitlement for Education benefits. 

 

Q12) What is being done to reach all affected students/former student about their options resulting from this decision? 

A12) VA is contacting students and our stakeholders via email regarding information about this update, and making the necessary changes to our website, outreach materials and fact sheets, and ensuring that students are fully aware of the changes and its effect on entitlement. 

 

EVENTS/REUNIONS

 

Sunday, September 26, 2021, War Veterans Tribute Cruise In at the Rhode Island Veterans Home, Metacom Ave, Bristol, Rhode Island. Registration 9:00 to 12;00, awards at 3:00pm. Suggested donation $15 per vehicle. Admission is free. All proceeds will go to recent non-profit organization managed by a committee to provide funds available for recreational activities for the veterans the Veterans home. Can’t make the event, donations can be sent to ITAM, 18 Winchester Ave, N. Smithfield RI 02896. 

 

Saturday, November 20, 2021, Comedy/Dinner show at the Officers Club, Newport RI. ComedyfactoryRI comedians will perform at the Veteran Fundraiser. Tickets are $50 per person, dinner at 5:00. Show starts at 6:00PM. Event is sponsored by the Italian American war Veterans and all veterans residing at the Veterans Home the event will be free, to include a ticket for their guest. Sponsorships for a veteran attending from the Veterans Home, are encouraged for those who can’t attend, $50 (which covers the veteran and a guest).

 

If you have an event, meeting, other pertinent veteran information, or email questions or help needed, contact the Italian American War Veteran Service Officer, John A Cianci, itamri4vets@gmail.com, ITAM Office 1-(401)677-9VET(9838)

 

Discounts

 

Restaurants

 

Applebees Applebee’s – Military Discount … With more than 2,000 locations, Applebee’s is a family grill restaurant. Applebee’s gives 10% off for active duty and veteran. Last verified 07/31/2028

 

Denny’s, Hartford Save Johnston Offers 10% discount for veterans and active duty.  Denny’s is a table service diner-style restaurant chain.  Last verified 07/31/2028 (PS I had breakfast there on Saturday).

 

Outback Steakhouse 10% Discount to active and veterans. Last verified 07/28/2021

 

99 Restaurant & Pub: The 99 Restaurant & Pub offers a 10% military discount to members of Veterans Advantage. Available at select locations only. Bring valid military ID

 

Retailers

 

Advance Auto Parts: 10% for Active Duty, Veterans and families. Last verified 07/28/2021 

 

Bass Pro Shops: Bass Pro Shops offers a 5% discount to active duty military, reservists, and National Guard. Sign up and verify your status online or bring your military ID when you shop at your nearest Bass Pro store (source).

 

BJs Wholesale: Reduced membership fee. J’s offers all military personnel over 25% off their Membership. Last verified 07/28/2021

 

Lowes: Enroll in the Lowe’s Military Discount Program to Activate Your 10% Discount

 

Our way of saying “Thank You” to our active duty, retired and military veterans and their spouses with a 10% discount on eligible items. Verification of your military status is fast and easy through our partner, ID.me. ID.me is our trusted technology partner in helping to keep your personal information safe.

 

GameStop: is offering a 10% in-store military discount on all pre-owned products, collectibles, and select new products. Available to current and former military members who bring any valid proof of service or when they verify through ID.me 

 

Home Depot: Home Depot offers a 10% OFF military discount on regularly priced merchandise for in-store purchases for active duty, retired military, and reservists at participating locations. Customers are required to show a valid government-issued military ID card to redeem this offer.

 

Kohls: 15% Kohl’s offers active military, veterans, retirees and their immediate family members a 15% discount on purchases made on Mondays, in store only. In order to receive the military discount, eligible customers must present proper identification along with any tender type.

 

Jiffy Lube: HONORING VETERANS ALL DAY EVERY DAY!

 

We didn’t want to wait for Veteran’s Day to express our appreciation and gratitude for your service. That’s why every Team Car Care owned and operated Jiffy Lube® service center is offering our BEST discount of 15% OFF as a “Thank You” to the men and women of our Armed Forces for their service to our country. *Disclaimer*- I.D. required. No coupon is required. Excludes batteries and brakes, alignment, and diagnostic services. Available only at select locations listed below:

Tioque Ave, Coventry RI

Bald Hill Road, Warwick RI

Park Ave, Cranston RI

 

Michaels: Michaels Stores offers a 15% OFF military discount on the entire in-store purchase including sale items for active duty, retired military, guard, reservists, veterans and family members. How to get, 

1.    Create an Account. Log in or create a Michaels Rewards account.

2.    Get Verified. Provide your military information to get verified instantly.

3.    Go Shopping! To use your discount online and in store, just sign into your account or provide your Michaels Rewards phone number at checkout.

 

O’Reilly Auto Parts: 10% discount on in store items for Active Duty, Veterans and families. Last verified 3/4/21.

 

If you are a retailer and or a veteran aware of a business not listed above, please forward your info to: itamri4vets@gmail.com. Include the business’s name, location, and military and veteran discount offered.

 

If you have an event, meeting, other pertinent veteran information, or email questions or help needed, contact the Italian American War Veteran Service Officer, John A Cianci, itamri4vets@gmail.com, ITAM Office 1-(401) 677-9VET (9838).

 

_____

John A. Cianci is a Veteran Service Officer. Retired, U.S. Army MSgt., Persian Gulf War and Iraq War combat theater.

Cianci, a combat disabled Veteran, served in Desert Shield/Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. His awards include Bronze Star, Combat Action Badge, Good Conduct, and others.

Cianci belongs to numerous veterans organizations – Italian American War Veterans, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign War, United Veterans Council of Rhode Island, and many more organizations. He is an active volunteer assisting veterans to navigate federal and state benefits they have earned. He is Department of Rhode Island Department Commander Italian American War Veterans and Veteran Service Officer.

He is a graduate of Roger Williams University (BS Finance), UCONN business school* (Entrepreneur Bootcamp For Veterans), Solar Energy International Residential, Commercial and Battery Based Photovoltaic Systems certificate programs, numerous certificates from the Department of Defense renewable energy programs, including graduate of the Solar Ready Vets Program.

 

 

 

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