Throughout my life, I thought Memorial Day was just a day to remember the dead, a day off and a banking holiday. I didn’t learn in a class or was ever told what Memorial Day is and why we celebrate it. So let’s educate those who don’t know, including myself.
What is Memorial Day and why do we celebrate it?
“Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of the United States of America.” -USMemorialDay.org
Originally to celebrate the dead who fell from the Civil War. Decoration Day was officially proclaimed May 5, 1868 to be celebrated May 30th. First celebrated by New York in 1873. After World War I, Decoration Day changed from honoring those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any way. Now called Memorial day, it’s now observed in almost every state on the last Monday in May. Congressional passage of the National Holiday Act of 1971 helped ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays.
How do we celebrate Memorial Day?
Although the pool and a BBQ for this warm holiday sounds like fun, many cities celebrate with a parade. It’s appropriate to visit cemeteries and memorials and pay your respects. Memorial Day is also the unofficial beginning of summer as temperatures rise and schools are out till the fall.
What’s the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day?
Memorial Day is celebrated in May and was originally in honor of those who died fighting in the Civil War.
Veterans Day is celebrated in November and began as Armistice Day to honor the end of World War I.
A great way to celebrate Veterans who are alive?
Just because a family member didn’t die as a result of service to the United States, doesn’t mean you should leave them out on Memorial Day. Invite them to your BBQ or pool party and ask them about some good positive stories about their service.
-Written by Valerie Michel Buck
Originally the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, known as the GI Bill, was created to provide benefits for returning WWII Veterans. These benefits included low-cost mortgages, low-interest loans to start a business, tuition payments of tuition and living expenses to attend a university, high school or vocational education.
In 1973, the Veterans Educational Assistance Program and Montgomery GI Bill was enacted to induce enlistment in the military (which now is voluntary). Veterans received assistance from 1976-1987 through the two bills.
In 1985, the Montgomery GI Bill expanded and replaced the Veterans Educational Assistance Program for those who served after July 1, 1985.
In 2008, the Montgomery GI Bill again expanded. It was at this time the Veterans Administration (VA) began to manage the benefit internally rather than using an outside contractor.
In December of 2010, the GI Bill evolved into the Post-9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Improvements Act of 2010. This bill expanded eligibility to include members of the National Guard (full-time Active Guard and Reserve), however still excluding Coast Guard Reserve. The new GI Bill includes items such as enrollment periods, Spousal GI Bill eligibility, and changes in tuition cap.
GI Bill Eligibility
Active & Veteran
Active Duty: 90 days of aggregate Active Duty Service after Sept 10, 2001 and are still on active duty.
Veteran: Honorably discharged or were discharged with a service-connected disability after 30 days.
Payable for 15 years following your release from active duty.
Active Duty Members & Reservists: http://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/montgomery_bill.asp
Vocational Rehab: http://www.benefits.va.gov/vocrehab/index.asp
Post-9/11 GI Bill Info: http://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/post911_gibill.asp
GI Bill Abuse & Fixes
For profit colleges have been targeting GI Bill recipients aggressively. These for profit colleges include many household named colleges. These for profit colleges high costs are causing GI Bill recipient’s to completely deplete their GI Bill Benefits. Though VA has put a tuition cap on for profit tuition benefits, GI Bill recipients are not often told the total cost of tuition, books, etc. and are forced to take out student loans. Many of the student loans GI Bill recipients receive are done so without knowledge or consent, causing higher rates or defaults on those student loans.
Between 2009 and 2011, institutions like the University of Phoenix and DeVry took 37% of GI Bill educational funds, resulting in only 25% of veterans being education. Graduation rate at private for-profit institutions is only 28%.  “At 8 of the 10 for-profits that take in the most GI Bill cash, more than half of students drop out within a year of matriculation.”  If those GI Bill recipients choose to transfer to another school, they are also finding that credits from many for profit schools will not transfer to private schools or non accredited institutions.
For those who are facing graduation and looking forward to the college’s promised job placement, many for profit colleges have misled graduates who are facing upcoming unemployment. “Many students find that prospective employers and graduate schools won’t take their coursework seriously since most for-profits lack accreditation from legitimate academic bodies.” 
In April 2012, President Obama signed the Executive Order 13607, Establishing Principles of Excellence for Educational Institutions Serving Service Members, Veterans, Spouses, and Other Family Members. This Executive Order is helping to put an end to deceptive and misleading marketing that targeted service members, veterans, spouses and the benefits they receive from the GI Bill. Additionally, the term “GI Bill” was trademarked by the VA, limiting marketing practices of colleges so they didn’t appear to be government affiliated institutions. 
Read the Executive Order 13607: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-05-02/pdf/2012-10715.pdf
Do you feel your GI Bill Funds have been abused? You can complain directly to VA: http://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/feedback.asp
GI Bill Benefit Payout Rates
Apply for GI Bill
Choose a School
Use the VA to find a school: http://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/
-Written by Valerie Michel Buck