Arlington, VA

By Criminal Defense Attorney John S. Berry Jr. of Berry Law Firm

Veterans’ benefits are forever changing, and this year some major modifications have been made to the federal program.

The biggest changes affect the GI Bill, Space-A travel, the Uniform Code of Military Justice, reservists’ allowance and the Tricare dental program.

Changes to the GI Bill

The GI Bill is a huge benefit of being in the military, as it helps veterans and their family members with their educational goals. This year Veterans Affairs will give eligible individuals enrolled in a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program nine more months of coverage.

The VA may also pay up to $30,000 instead of the nine months. Typically the lesser amount will be paid. To be eligible for these additional months, individuals must have already completed 60-semester or 90-quarter hours in an applicable program. Enrollment in a 128-semester or 192-quarter hours course is also required.

Space-A Travel

Space-A flights allow members of the military, and their families, to travel on military planes and charters when the aircraft has empty seats. In 2019, disabled veterans that have a disability rating of 100 percent are eligible for these flights.

New Addition to Uniform Code of Military Justice

The Uniform Code of Military Justice outlines military law in the United States. Now the Code will include Article 128b, which addresses domestic violence. It will include provisions for assault, intimidation, violation of a protective order, damaging property and injuring animals.

Allowance for Reservists

A new law allows reservists a high-deployment allowance up to $1,000 a month. There are eligibility requirements, such as reservists must be mobilized under Section 1104(b).

Tricare Dental Program Changes

Retired veterans enjoying Tricare coverage should know that the FEDVIP program will replace the Tricare Retiree Dental Plan (TRDO). This change also allows those with family members on active duty access to vision insurance.

“All veterans should know about these changes, to ensure they are taking advantage of all benefits that are available to them,” says John S. Berry, Jr. of Berry Law. “It is also important veterans understand that while these are federal changes, they should also investigate the many changes occurring at the state level across the country.”

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