by Maj. Beth Kelley Horine
Air Force Personnel Center Public Affairs
7/28/2009 - RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Air Force Personnel Center leadership provided updates to the field recently on the Air Force implementation of the Post-9/11 GI Bill. For updated guidance, checklists and timeline information, visit the "Ask" AFPC Web site and click on the Post-9/11 GI Bill link.
The updates include guidance on how eligible Airmen can choose to transfer part or all of their educational benefits to family members enrolled in the Defense Eligibility Enrollment Reporting System, effective Aug. 1.
"Since the Transfer Education Benefits Web site began accepting applications in July, more than 4,000 Airmen have requested transfer of benefits to their family members," said Maj. Jamison Braun, AFPC's Deputy Chief of Transformation.
The request to transfer is initiated by an Airman through TEB, a Department of Defense portal, to the Total Force Service Center-San Antonio for validation, and then sent back to the DoD and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
"However, the DoD portal experienced difficulties at first that limited our ability to push validation of eligibility back to the DoD and the VA in a timely manner," said Major Braun. "Now that the kinks have been worked out, we anticipate the total process from application to approval to take between 30-45 days. Please be patient with the new rollout and we'll continue to keep you up to speed on changes," he added.
All Airmen serving greater than 90 days of active duty, post-Sept. 11, 2001, are automatically eligible and enrolled for the new GI bill benefit. For additional information and eligibility requirements, visit www.gibill.va.gov.
Next, if only applying for personal use of benefits (not transferring to dependents), go to the Department of Veterans Affairs On-line Application, or VONAPP, Web site at http://vabenefits.vba.va.gov/vonapp to apply.
Active duty and Selected Reserve Airmen who meet all of the VA's Post-9/11 GI Bill benefit requirements, who are on duty as of Aug. 1, who have already served at least six years, and who commit to four more years of service, have the option to transfer their benefits to eligible dependents.
Before applying to transfer benefits, an Airman should do four things to ensure a smooth and efficient application process.
The very first step for all Airmen is to seek counseling from your Education Center on GI Bill options, said Rudy Torres, AFPC's Education Services and Benefits Program deputy chief.
"Next, ensure you have at least four years left of retainability before transferring benefits, unless retirement eligible. If you need additional retainability, visit your military personnel section for counseling on your reenlistment or extension options," Mr. Torres said.
Third, Airmen must sign a Statement of Understanding to acknowledge acceptance of their active duty service commitment. The SOU is available in military personnel sections, education offices and on the "Ask" AFPC Web site.
"If you've already applied to transfer your benefits, a copy of the SOU will be sent to you for signature via email from the Total Force Service Center-San Antonio. In the near future, the SOU will be available on the virtual MPF to allow Airmen to complete this action digitally," Major Braun added.
And finally, all Airmen should verify family member information is accurate in DEERS.
A printable version of this checklist is available on the AFPC Web site under the Post-9/11 GI Bill link.
HOW TO APPLY
After completing the checklist above, Airmen can apply to transfer their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits at the TEB site. Applicants must use a common access card, a DoD self-service user identification, or a Defense Finance and Accounting Service personal identification number to access the site. The TEB site is also posted on the AFPC Web site and the Air Force Virtual Education Center on the Air Force Portal.
"If for some reason an applicant doesn't meet eligibility requirements, the application will be returned to the TEB site and AFPC will provide the applicant with a statement of why it was disapproved, or guidance on what actions are required before approval can be granted," said Major Braun.
Once Airmen receive approval of their transfer application from the VA, family members may apply to use transferred benefits by completing VA Form 22-1990e in VONAPP. The VA Form 22-1990e should only be completed and submitted to VA by the family member after TEB approval. Further information is available at: http://vabenefits.vba.va.gov/vonapp/main.asp