BY TAMMY WALTERS
Oneida County CVSO
Even if you’ve heard of the Wisconsin GI Bill, I recommend you read this entire article because there has been an important and recent change to the program. The change expands eligibility of the Wisconsin GI Bill to children, spouses and un-remarried surviving spouses of certain veterans who were not previously eligible.
To begin with, the Wisconsin GI Bill is a state veteran’s benefit that pays for tuition and fees at a Wisconsin college or technical school for 128 credits or eight full-time semesters, whichever is greater. Originally, a veteran had to have enlisted in Wisconsin to be eligible for this benefit. If the veteran was honorably discharged and was service disabled at a rate of 30 percent or greater, their dependents were also eligible to use it. A couple years ago, they expanded the Wisconsin GI Bill to also include veterans who did not enlist from Wisconsin but had five years residency here; however, this change didn’t include the dependents of those veterans. This year through 2017 Wisconsin Act 59, dependents of five-year residency veterans who are service disabled at a rate of 30 percent or greater are now also eligible to use the Wisconsin GI Bill.
In order for a child, spouse, or un-remarried surviving spouse of a veteran to qualify, all of the following conditions must be met:
• The veteran must have served on active duty under honorable conditions.
• The veteran must have been awarded a combined service-connected disability rating of at least 30 percent by the Veterans Administration.
• The veteran must have resided in Wisconsin for at least five consecutive years immediately preceding the start of the semester or session.
• The student must have resided in Wisconsin for at least five consecutive years immediately preceding enrollment.
A child’s eligibility lasts until he or she turns 26; a spouse’s eligibility lasts 10 years after the veteran receives 30 percent or higher rating; and an un-remarried surviving spouse’s eligibility lasts 10 years after the date of the veteran’s death or 10 years after the youngest child of the surviving spouse and veteran reaches age 18.
Surprisingly, the paperwork to apply for the Wisconsin GI bill is very simple but you must know what school you’re attending and approximately when you will start. There’s a one-page form (WDVA 2030) we send to the state VA for you and another one-page form (WDVA 2029) that you give to your school. Of course, my office can assist you with the forms.
Lastly, I’d like to clarify something about myself. Since the local media reported that I was elected President of the County Veterans Service Officers Association of Wisconsin (CVSOA), we have gotten numerous calls asking if I was leaving my position. I assure you I am not. I will be the CVSOA President for one year and will do that along with my normal job. Rhinelander is where I was meant to be and serving veterans is what I was meant to do. I literally wouldn’t want to be doing anything else, anywhere else.
Tammy Walters can be reached at (715) 369-6127 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Jason Dailey, Assistant CVSO, can be reached at the same number or email@example.com.