Bruce Garmon is very different from many of his Johnson C. Smith classmates. Not only is the senior from Grand Rapids, Mich. and a married father of two; he’s also been out of high school for more than a decade. The 27 year old spent four years in the Marine Corps., serving in Iraq and Kuwait, before enrolling at JCSU.
While he may not have a lot in common with his college peers, Garmon is part of a rapidly growing group. He is among a growing group of military veterans who have benefited from the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Earlier this month, the program signed up its one millionth beneficiary.
The bill, signed into law back in 2008, grants aid to veterans who served for at least 90 days active duty after Sept. 11, 2001. In addition to tuition and fees, the bill also includes an annual stipend for books and supplies as well as a housing allowance for up to 36 months.
It also offers benefits to family members of veterans, which separates it from previous versions of the GI Bill. Approximately $30 billion worth of benefits have been issued since the bill’s inception, according to the department of Veteran Affairs.
Garmon is currently one of 42 JCSU students receiving Post-9/11 GI bill. Garmon was discharged from the Marines in 2008, and found out about the new GI Bill around the same time.
“I found out about it from the reps at the VA when I went for medical attention,” he said.
Garmon also says several of his friends from the Marine Corps are taking advantage of the bill as well, as well as their families.
“They all love it,” he said.
With the military out of Iraq and scaling back operations in Afghanistan, the number of veterans taking advantage of the bill has increased as of late. According to the Navy Times, more than 640,000 people are currently using the bill, an increase of about 13 percent from the year before.
“We are pleased that the Post-9/11 generation of Veterans is taking advantage of this significant benefit program,” said Under Secretary for Benefits Allison A. Hickey. “The scope of the program we’ve administered thus far would fund the undergraduate student bodies of Virginia Tech, Ohio State University, West Virginia University, and University of Florida combined – for eight years.”