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Can GI Benefits Be Used to Start a Business?

A proposal in Congress aims to let some recently separated service members use their GI Bill benefits to start a new business, rather than taking college classes. The legislation would establish a three-year pilot program for up to 250 veterans to pursue “educational entrepreneurial training” and receive their education payouts in the form of start-up capital, instead of the traditional tuition payments.

However, the bill hasn’t gained much legislative traction in recent years, reports Military Times’ recent article entitled “Use your GI Bill benefits to start a business? Lawmakers push pilot program.”

“Higher education is essential for many [veterans], but some have a different calling,” said Rep Ben Cline, R-Va. and a sponsor of the measure. “Veterans are seeking more options and want the choice to use their GI Bill benefit to start their own business. It’s common sense to offer veterans a choice in accessing resources, training and support to pursue the American dream to start a small business, create jobs and generate growth in our economy.”

Roughly 1.7 million veterans have some unused GI Bill benefits, and a new court ruling could provide a pathway to accessing them for the first time. Under the current post-9/11 GI Bill education benefits program, eligible veterans get 36 months of tuition payouts, housing stipends and other financial assistance. In certain situations, service members can also transfer that benefit to a spouse or dependents for their college classes.

More than 2.5 million businesses in America are veteran-owned, making up just under 10% of all American small businesses. Supporters of the Veterans Entrepreneurship Act say that individuals interested in pursuing that path after military service should not be shut out from using their earned benefits.

“By helping veterans start businesses, we are investing in America’s best and brightest,” co-sponsor Rep. Lou Correa, D-Calif., said in a statement.

“When our service members transition into civilian life, they bring considerable skills and experiences with them. Veterans know how to manage risk on the battlefield. And that’s what a successful entrepreneur does — manage risk.”

However, the bill has faced resistance in the past partly due to the fact that they are designed to help promote veteran entrepreneurship and employment, and in part because of concerns that misuse of the college benefit could result in long-term financial disadvantages for veterans.

Versions of the idea have made some progress in both the House and Senate in recent years but have not reached final approval from both chambers. No timeline has been set for a hearing or vote on the new proposal.

Reference: Military Times (July 16, 2021) “Use your GI Bill benefits to start a business? Lawmakers push pilot program”

What Ailments Increase Risk for Severe COVID-19?

Did you know that if 80% of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. have occurred in people 65 and older, and 95% of those who have died have been at least 50 years old?

Money Talks News’ recent article entitled “7 Conditions That Increase Your Risk for Severe COVID-19” explains that pre-existing health conditions also significantly increase a person’s odds of getting a severe form of the disease. Moreover, last summer, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 94% of people in the U.S. whose death certificates mentioned COVID-19 also had other health conditions listed.

Here are pre-existing conditions that dramatically increase your odds of severe illness or death, if you’re infected with the coronavirus.

Kidney disease requiring long-term dialysis. If kidney issues require you to be on long-term dialysis, you are more than five times likelier to get COVID-19, and almost four times as likely to die from it than others, according to a study published recently in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. The study found that dialysis patients typically have characteristics that increase their risk of COVID-19 and related complications. These individuals are more likely to: (i) be older; (ii) have some underlying conditions and different degrees of immunosuppression; and (iii) reside in long-term care facilities.

Pneumonia. If you have been diagnosed with pneumonia in the past, you may face a higher risk of getting severely ill, or even dying, from COVID-19. Studies show that prior pneumonia illness was the second-greatest overall risk factor for death from COVID-19 — second only to age. The researchers think that a prior case of pneumonia may be a sign that you have an underlying chronic lung disease that’s gone undiagnosed.

Diabetes. Those with diabetes — either Type 1 or Type 2 — who develop COVID-19 are three times as likely to have a severe case or to require hospitalization as people without diabetes who get the disease.

Cancer. Those individuals who have cancer have a heightened risk for both contracting COVID-19 and having worse outcomes from the disease, especially for African American patients. Specifically, patients diagnosed with cancer within the last year were found to be at significantly higher risk for contracting COVID-19. The risk association was highest for those with leukemia, Non-Hodgkin lymphoma and lung cancer. Patients diagnosed with both cancer and COVID-19 had higher hospitalization rates (47%) and death rates (15%) than those diagnosed with COVID-19 but not cancer (hospitalization rate of 24%, death rate of 5%). The CDC said right now they don’t know if a past bout with cancer — as opposed to a current diagnosis — increases the risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

Sickle cell disease. Those patients with this inherited blood disorder were more likely to have poor outcomes after contracting the coronavirus, according to researchers from the Medical College of Wisconsin and the CDC. Of 178 COVID-19-positive patients with sickle cell disease who were studied, 69% were hospitalized during their COVID-19 illness; 11% were admitted to the intensive care unit, and 7% died. The researchers also noted that the patients had an average age of 28.6 years, which made the findings even more startling. Sickle cell disease is most frequently found in African Americans. It strikes about one in 365.

Heart disease and cardiovascular issues. A study at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center looked at the records of nearly 20,000 patients and that found that cardiovascular disease — or risk factors for it — in COVID-19 patients dramatically increased their risk of dying in the hospital. The risk of death was especially high for older men of color.

Obesity. Those individuals who are severely obese are at greater risk of dying from COVID-19 than those with conditions, such as diabetes or hypertension, according to Kaiser Permanente researchers. This increased risk is especially pronounced in obese men and younger patients who contract COVID-19. The risk of death is more than doubled for patients with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 to 44. It almost doubles again for those with a BMI of 45, compared with people with a normal BMI of 18.5 to 24.

Reference: Money Talks News (Feb. 9, 2021) “7 Conditions That Increase Your Risk for Severe COVID-19”

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