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Courtney Amendment Preserving Post-9/11 G.I. Bill Transferability Approved in 2020 NDAA

June 13, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – During consideration of the FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) won bipartisan support for an amendment which would prevent the Secretary of Defense from restricting the ability of servicemembers with more than sixteen years of service to transfer their Post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits to eligible dependents. The FY 2020 NDAA was ultimately passed out of committee by a vote of 33-24.

“We passed the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill back during my first term as a representative, and the intent was to honor the service and sacrifice of our veterans by providing them and their loved ones with educational opportunities,” said Congressman Courtney. “But the order this Administration issued last summer that would restrict our longest-serving servicemembers from transferring those G.I. Bill benefits falls far short of honoring their sacrifice—it wrongs those vets who are willing and able to continue their service. The order makes little practical sense: it cripples one of our armed services’ most attractive recruiting tools—the ability to transfer Post-9/11-G.I. Bill education benefits to family and eligible dependents—at a time when recruitment efforts need a boost. 

“My amendment to this year’s defense authorization bill would prevent the Secretary of Defense from imposing restrictions on Post-9/11 G.I. Bill transferability based on a maximum number of years of service. If the Department of Defense will not reconsider this misguided decision before it goes into effect next month, the strong action in the NDAA last night should send a strong and powerful signal that it’s time to slow down.”

In July of 2018, the Department of Defense (DOD) announced a policy change that would prevent service members with greater than sixteen years of service from transferring their Post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits to eligible family members. Following the announcement, Courtney led a bipartisan letter signed by 83 of his colleagues in the House to Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis strongly opposing the announced policy change. 

A number of veterans’ organizations have also called for a reversal of the Department of Defense’s (DOD) policy, including the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), who submitted a petition to the Pentagon last fall requesting that the DOD reconsider the policy with the signatures of more than 54,000 supporters, veterans, and IAVA members. 

With the adoption of Courtney’s amendment in the committee’s final version of the bill, Courtney announced that he will send another letter to DOD in the coming days requesting that it delay the planned July 12, 2019 implementation of the policy until Congress has fully weighed in on this issue in completing its work on the FY2020 NDAA.