Army veteran hopes to change law preventing a benefits transfer

YUBA CITY – Eric Bufford is a proud American who served in the United States Army for 11 years as a maintenance engineer.

As part of the post-9/11 G.I. bill, Bufford has education benefits, but he's not using them. So he thought he could transfer the unused benefits to his 18-year-old daughter, Katelynn, which is allowed. Some veterans can transfer their unused benefits to their spouse or children.

But Bufford falls into an eight-year gap created by the bill.

As the law is written, veterans who served more than 90 days after 9/11 are eligible for education benefits, but if one left the service before August 2009, the benefits cannot be transferred.

"Obviously we found a loophole that should be closed," Bufford said. "I wouldn't say I feel cheated, I would say it just needs to be corrected."

Now nis daughter is trying to figure out how to pay for college which starts next month.

"I'm struggling to come up with a new financial plan just a month before I leave," Katelynn Bufford said.

Rep. John Garamendi, D-California 3rd Congressional District, has already set up a meeting between Bufford and his staff.

"The law was designed at a certain time under certain circumstances," Garamendi said. "In this case, it's 2008. Whatever the reasons were in 2008 may make absolutely no sense today."

Garamendi went on to say the bill is being re-written after passing the U.S. Senate but failing in the House of Representatives.

The congressman is not sure if the re-write will fix Bufford's problem, but he does plan to look into it.

"There are literally tens of thousands of veterans that deserve benefits that aren't getting them because of antiquated law," Garamendi said.

"I think anyone that has a heart for veterans will take a look at what's going on and try to make a change to it," Bufford added.


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