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2016 National Defense Act Contains Education and GI Bill Changes

The 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was signed into law by President Obama on November 25, 2015.| Dec 01, 2015 | by Jim Absher

The 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was signed into law by President Obama on November 25, 2015. There are many education and GI Bill changes in the new law, we will cover a few of the major changes here.

The Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP) GI Bill Is Ending

According to the law, the REAP program ended on the date the law was signed, November 25. However, those people who currently or previously were in the REAP program have until November 25, 2019 to use their benefits. According to the VA, around 13,700 people used REAP in fiscal year 2014, the most recent date for which they provide data. The number of people using REAP has been declining around 25% annually since the inception of the Post-9/11 GI Bill in 2009 since most recipients are eligible for both programs and the Post-9/11 GI Bill is far more generous.

Reserve Reintegration Programs

Reservists and Guard Members will get more reintegration and quality of life training before during and after activations, mobilizations, and deployments. They will now receive 4 paid training sessions.

  1. One pre-mobilization session focusing on preparing eligible individuals and affected communities for the rigors of activation, mobilization, and deployment.
  2. One mid-deployment session focusing on helping them cope with the challenges and stress associated with mobilization, decreasing feeling of isolation during mobilization, and preparing them for the challenges associated with reintegration.
  3. Two post-deployment session focusing on:
    • reconnecting them with their families, friends, and communities;
    • providing information on employment opportunities;
    • helping them deal with the challenges of reintegration;
    • ensuring they understand what benefits they are entitled to and what resources are available to help them overcome the challenges of reintegration; and
    • providing a forum for addressing negative behaviors related to operational stress and reintegration.

Expansion of Education Counseling During Outbriefing

Congress feels there is not enough training on the various education opportunities available to veterans during the required Transition Assistance Program (TAP) training. This is evidenced by numerous GAO reports that say the military and VA aren’t doing enough to help separating members transition to civilian life, and numerous veterans reporting problems finding work after leaving the service. To that end, they have inserted language into the law to require TAP training to include:

  1. Preparation for higher education or training.
  2. Preparation for career or technical training.
  3. Preparation for entrepreneurship.
  4. Other training options as necessary.

No More Unemployment While Getting The GI Bill

Congress was surprised and upset to learn that many veterans were receiving free tuition at school, a housing allowance to pay all their housing costs, $1,000 a year book stipend from their GI Bill and then turning around and drawing unemployment. This was a loophole in the law nobody saw coming and apparently quite a few people took advantage of, enough to cause Congress to insert language into the law prohibiting the receipt of unemployment benefits while receiving the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

  1. Ela
    ElaDec 27, 2015

    Alex, Sorry; but I had to reply as I was hardpressed not to do so. Your reply above is the the type of reply that makes us bivleee it the same old thing from the VA–another dog and pony show. Those who have had more time and more disheartening and discouraging treatment from the VA/VAMC for their Veterans,their various family members and friends can rebut a lot of what you say about the system.THE VA, now you, need to listen…not state party line…because party line is what we’ve been getting; the VA–you– have the opportunity to get us to the table to bivleee that you care and that you want to have better in place for our Veterans/Family members. Most of us would like to bivleee and try to listen that the VA really cares about CHANGE for the good and that it wants to make the system(s) healthy and not stay sick and dysfuctional– for the good of the Veteran and their family members.True, the problems lay in the system(s); AND, it the system–but its the people in the systems that need to be held accountable for quality and customer service and that does not seem to happen too often.especially with Federal Employees and with Federal Contract employees!Right now, I’m working on over 4 hours of dealing with Tricare Express Scripts–Rx faxed and confirmation # in hand by Dr. Office on NOVEMBER 17; Yesterday, I spoke to Dr. Office and they finally spoke to John, spvr at TES who said, after he had her refax with the given confirmation number, “then it must be on someone’s desk and not doing patient any good; will send it Overnight Express at our cost. He said he would call or he mail me–not heard anything from him. I queried the CS site and they said, “…you will receive your meds in 14 days!” This is just another example of how Tricare Express Scripts is not working well and there is NO escalation to fix anything in this system for the person having the problem and fixing the processes that broke down to begin with so it will not happen to others. But we seem to have a Contract written in STONE with TES? Why not open the playing fields to get better competition so we do get better customer service. Tricare ES thinks they have it all wrapped up with the old VA (I do have to wonder what is the connection with this contract?) What about negotiating with CVS or like Humana did with Walmart–they are convenient and pretty much on every corner!!TES also in their CS email had the audacity to say now I have to wait 14 days to get my Rx; but, I can pay more for “emergency” meds out of my pocket and more inconvenience from the Dr.’s office to call it in or have the pharmacy call Customer Service! This is why my last Dr. REFUSED to use Tricare Express Scripts–takes too much time dealing with their incompetence and ineptness. Is this new information for you or the General S? Apparently, I saw in a news clip that General Gates has heard not so great things about Tricare as well. There is no ombudsman to help us deal with the screw ups in the systems…Over 5 hours now…this is not good Customer Service for the client, the Vet or his family member and its not good customer service for the payee–the Government. We have been encouraged to use this Mail order to save money not only for us; but for the government.Give us choice, give us ombudsmen to deal with spinning problems, incompetence in the system, and with arrogant lazy contract employees.Alex, I love your enthusiasm and I love your fresh outlook; but, please don’t preach to us about how good we have it with VAMC’s, Tricare, Tricare Express, etc. “me thinks you protest too much (that the system is great! )Another sore spot—Mailing complaints is not the 2010 way to deal with anything. It’s like saying, “you have another hoop to jumpt through (maybe you will give up and go away)even KMart has a 800# and asks how are we doing! Also, if you don’t have anyone with authority at the end of a 800 # or someone who can call you back and get things straightened out (especially when they say they will) you have a dsyfunctional, unhealthy system that only exasperates the poor broken down sick Veterans and their stressed out caregiving family members who have no choice but to use it as it is part of their benefit that they’ve EARNED and paid for by their service and still have to pay outright for it now; but…that another story about “broken promises !.Also, thanks for your service Alex. I will try to be hopeful; if anyone can turn the bloated boat (VA) around in a typhoon that is stationed in a small harbor; my bet is on the General (and his Boss)–he’one of us (the G)! But he better hurry up; we only might have another two years…Not sure if he is realistic on his 5 year Program to end Homelessness for Veterans (I have some ideas on this) sounds good; but not doable the ways things are now; throwing 50Million here and there is not the comprehensive plan that will work.Let me volunteer to participate on the “think outside the box” committee on how can we get it right for our Veterans/family members!!Vetwife AdvocateSomething is wrong when you have such arrogance in corporations; there is no manager to take responsibility. As I say; if you don’t have accountability and quality built in programs; you get incompetence and poor customer service. I saved a copy so if I got blipped again; you would get the message eventually. Once burned, shame on me .you know how it goes.

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