Veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan since Sept. 11 will now benefit from one of the most comprehensive education programs for the military in more than 60 years.
President Barack Obama announced the new GI Bill, Monday, during a rally at George Mason University.
Unlike the old bill, veteran benefits now include full tuition and housing plus a $1,000 stipend for textbooks. Benefits have also been expanded to cover active reserve military personnel as well as military families.
"The contributions that our service men and women can make to this nation do not end when they take off the uniform," Obama said at the celebration. "We owe a debt to all who serve and when we pay that debt to those bravest Americans among us then we are investing in our future."
The legislation is expected to cost more than $70 billion over the next decade.
"We do this not just to meet our moral obligation to those who sacrificed greatly on our behalf, on behalf of the country," Obama added. "We do it because these men and women must now be prepared to lead our nation in the peaceful pursuit of economic leadership in the 21st century."
Overall, veterans have praised the legislation, but some are concerned that universities could be overwhelmed by the complexity of the benefits.
It is anticipated that nearly 500,000 veterans or their family members will participate in the program during its first year alone.
*Originally published August 3, 2009