The Supreme Court as seen in Washington, D.C., on July 6, 2022.

The Supreme Court as seen in Washington, D.C., on July 6, 2022. (Carlos Bongioanni/Stars and Stripes)

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case that could provide billions of dollars in education benefits to about 1.7 million post 9/11 veterans.

The case centers on whether veterans who qualify for the Montgomery GI Bill and the Post-9/11 GI Bill for multiple periods of military service should be allowed to draw benefits from both. Since the newer Post-9/11 GI Bill became effective in 2009, the VA has limited veterans to benefits from one program or the other.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the fall and issue a final decision in the spring.

Army veteran James Rudisill filed a lawsuit against the Department of Veterans Affairs eight years ago about this issue. He served at three different times in the Army between 2000 and 2011. He served in Iraq and Afghanistan and qualified for the Montgomery GI Bill and the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

Both GI bills offer 36 months of education benefits but vary when it comes to what expenses are covered beyond tuition. The Montgomery benefits must be used within 10 years of an honorable discharge, and Post-9/11 benefits do not expire for veterans whose service ended after Jan. 1, 2013.

Rudisill attempted to use his education benefits in 2015 to attend Yale Divinity School and become an Army chaplain. The VA restricted Rudisill to three years of educational benefits, and he was not permitted to use the extra year that he could get from using a combination of both GI Bill programs.

Rudisill was unable to attend divinity school and is now a special agent with the FBI.

Timothy McHugh and Misha Tseytlin, attorneys who represent Rudisill, said in a statement that they are “grateful and delighted” to bring the case to the Supreme Court.

“Should we prevail in the U.S. Supreme Court, approximately 1.7 million post-9/11 veterans will be eligible to receive additional educational benefits totaling billions of dollars. This would be transformative for millions of veterans, their families and their communities,” according to the statement.

The VA declined to comment, citing pending litigation.

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Rose L. Thayer is based in Austin, Texas, and she has been covering the western region of the continental U.S. for Stars and Stripes since 2018. Before that she was a reporter for Killeen Daily Herald and a freelance journalist for publications including The Alcalde, Texas Highways and the Austin American-Statesman. She is the spouse of an Army veteran and a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in journalism. Her awards include a 2021 Society of Professional Journalists Washington Dateline Award and an Honorable Mention from the Military Reporters and Editors Association for her coverage of crime at Fort Hood.

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