Education Benefits for Women in Armed Forces

12:15 PM April 5, 2012

Education Benefits for Women in Armed Forces

Written and Submitted by June Olsen

Although women have played important roles in the United States armed forces since the civil war, their numbers have only seen dramatic increases over the past decade. In the years since 9/11, female recruitment and retention is up, both for enlisted soldiers and in the officer corps. Currently, women make up close to twenty percent of the force across all branches - and the numbers are increasing every year. When these women retire their uniforms, whether at the end of a tour of duty, due to an injury, or simply to make a career change, it is important that they be aware of the myriad benefits designed to help them transition back into civilian life. Educational benefits are some of the robust, as well as the most helpful.

Technically speaking, the benefits available to male and female veterans are identical. In a traditionally male force, however, many of the benefits have been designed with the male veteran in mind. Over the past few years, more and more benefits have been adapted to apply equally to the genders. Changes tend to be most evident where health care is concerned, but some inroads have been made in the educational sector, as well, particularly where vocational training and family life courses in accredited degree programs are concerned.

Women who leave active duty are usually automatically enrolled in a "Transition Assistance Program." which is administered at bases and posts around the world through a joint Department of Labor/Department of Labor initiative. Departing women veterans can use this program to learn up-to-date job search skills, take resume-building classes, and receive coaching on employment strategies. Most of the time, job training opportunities are also available to a service member's dependents. Women who are married or who have working-age children should be careful not to miss this benefit.

Returning female veterans would also be wise to explore their options for free or heavily subsidized university education. Under the newest GI Bill, which was amended just after 9/11, any veteran who served honorably for at least 90 aggregate days since September 2011 is eligible for full educational benefits - tuition, room and board, and books, in most cases - at nearly any U.S university or institute of higher learning. Many Women use this benefit to get or finish an initial college degree, but it can also be applied to graduate studies, including law, business and medicine; vocational training; and correspondence or job enhancement programs.

Women are particularly encouraged to apply for entrepreneurship training opportunities through the Department of Veteran's Affairs. Entrepreneurship training is offered in conjunction with the United States Small Business Association, and offers veterans intensive training and one-on-one coaching on how to open, operate and succeed as a small business owner. The SBA's Veterans Business Outreach Program also provides small business training for veterans that are unrelated to GI BILL benefits. Women, who are often underrepresented in the business world, can use these opportunities to turn ideas and skills into profit once they return from service.


If you have any questions please feel free to email them to June Olsen at

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