The Veterans' Entrepreneurial Transition Business Benefit Act would allow veterans to use Montgomery GI Bill benefits to start or run their own businesses.
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Can Veterans Use the GI Bill to Run a Business?

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The Veterans' Entrepreneurial Transition Business Benefit Act would allow veterans to use Montgomery GI Bill benefits to start or run their own businesses.

The bill, HR 114, would apply only to Montgomery GI Bill benefits, which in 2010 paid a flat rate of $1,368 per month for up to 36 months of benefits for those who enrolled in the program and served three years or longer on active duty.

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., the sponsor of HR 114, intends to offer similar legislation that would allow Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to be used as financial support when buying or operating a small business

Letting veterans use GI Bill education benefits to own and operate their own businesses would allow veterans extra income to sustain their families until their businesses became profitable. That can be important to many separating services members who face difficult transitions in finances after leaving behind not only their military pay, but a plethora of military allowances and bonuses.

AMERICAN LEGION SUPPORTS THE BILL

Should expanded GI Bill benefits , stretch to support veterans' start-up businesses, even though the GI Bill was originally intended to support veterans' higher education?

The largest veterans group, the American Legion supported the Veterans' Entrepreneurial Transition Business Benefit Act and its precedent-setting idea of allowing GI Bill education benefits to expand GI Bill benefits to apply to more something other than training and education.

They asserted that not every veteran is destined for college and GI Bill benefits need to be more accessible for those veterans with an entrepreneurial spirit.

Paralyzed Veterans of America also support the bill, noting that Congress should support veterans who want to start businesses, and allow the funds earned for college courses to be used to help secure the future of those veterans in this way.

VETERANS OF FOREIGN WARS AND VA OPPOSE THE BILL

The nation's largest group of combat veterans, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, as well as the Veterans Affairs Department, oppose this bill, leaving the House Veterans' Affairs Committee's economic opportunity panel uncertain about its fate.

The VFW's national legislative service stated that the purpose of the GI Bill is to provide education, training and the skills to help veterans succeed, not to provide business start-up money. Small Business Administration programs address the specific needs of business start-ups, they noted. VA is willing to work with Congress and with the Small Business Administration to find other ways to help veterans start businesses.

Other opponents say the bill would require VA to make judgments on whether a veteran has a good enough business plan to warrant using GI Bill benefits for financial support. The bill includes no guidance as to how VA would determine the particular amount of education assistance a veteran could receive or how VA would implement the financial support.

The Veterans' Entrepreneurial Transition Business Benefit Act has been pending since Jan. 9, 2009.



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