New GI Bill Signed Into Law

Today, President Bush signed into law, the new GI Bill.  The new World War II-style GI Bill for America’s Iraq and Afghanistan veterans ensures the men and women who volunteered to serve their country during this time of war will get the educational benefits they deserve.

The new GI Bill which was sponsored by Senators Webb, Hagel, Warner and Lautenberg increases the educational benefits for members of the military who have served on active duty since September 11, 2001.  It provides for the cost of tuition, enrollment fees for state public colleges and includes a monthly housing allowance and $1,000 per year for books and supplies.  The GI Bill is also transferable to the family members of servicemember’s who serve at least ten years in the military.

Complete information on the new GI Bill can be found at

Sam’s medical status from Sam’s father Eric:

Good Morning All,

My visit yesterday [6/27/2008] found Sam quite groggy, but probably feeling no pain. I mentioned last time that his doctor was experimenting with the reverse affects of the tranquilizers to his responsive state. He was getting Valium, which they also decided to discontinue yesterday for another derivative of Valium to which he has had more success. He didn’t feel like talking and said so quite plainly. He was totally with us and would answer all questions put to him. Just because he was relaxing didn’t mean he wouldn’t be subjected to Erin’s constant stimulation and endless challenges. It is amazing to me where she comes up with all that she does. She asks him questions about their life before the incident, what he looks forward to, and asks him to comment on current events. Yesterday she was throwing him algebraic equations in word form. If 2x = 4, then what is the value of x? If 18 over 6 = x; well you get the idea. He handles them perfectly. Their 5 year anniversary is approaching and she asks him to recount how many…(a question he has gotten wrong in the past)…but not this time…He flashes all 5 fingers…his memory is getting stronger. Erin asks him to do many small tasks that he can do for himself; like wash his face, brush his hair and teeth, put on and take off his surgical mask when going out of the room…(he has to wear one because technically he is still carrying that bacteria that Erin Relaxes_6_27_08_kentfield causes his infections)…Yes small tasks, but huge milestones to a TBI patient…One day last week he even shaved himself a few
strokes…AWESOME!!! One of my continuing prayers is that God strengthens Erin to continue to push him in the right directions…all this is done with the motivation of kisses and hugs, positive verbal motivation, and just pure love…tough love in the sense that it just doesn’t end…Thank You Lord, for Erin….See the picture of Erin in Sam’s bed; isn’t she cute? Sam was up in his chair when I arrived at 10am and didn’t go back to bed until about 4 or so…Erin rotates his position every half hour or so to relieve any pressure he may be experiencing…

When I was ready to leave and fight the Friday night traffic back to Sacramento; I leaned in to hug Sam, kiss him, and tell him how much I love him…While I was still hugging him I heard Erin say “Aaaahhhh….did you see that?” I backed up a step or two to see what she was talking about and he was placing his hand over his heart and then pointing his index finger at me, to return hand over heart_6_27_08_kentfieldthe I love you….He did it three times, as he wanted to be certain I was getting the message. Oh my goodness gracious; he melted me right there on the spot. Yeah, a big emotional pool right there in his room. He held it long enough for me to get my phone out and snap a quick picture for you all to see. The pure sweetness of this kid knows no depths. He touches me every time I visit. Visitation of the sick is supposed to be for their benefit; how come I always feel better? God’s grace is the only answer…

As I drive home I contemplate the sacrifices of so many parents of the past…starting with Father Abraham that was asked to kill his only son because God had asked it of him…we know that God never intended to take his son, but if he had refused; well we would have missed out on the covenant God established with us. I am so glad I wasn’t the one on which all that depended; I, like most other people love my sons dearly…Then I think of God himself putting his only son through a living hell and eventual death for us…that kind of love cannot be comprehended; just enjoyed…and finally I think of all the parents that have lost their sons and daughters as they defend this great nation from all enemies…whether we agree with the premise of this war or not, I simply ask God for his protection of all our young men and women in harms way….

With much love,


9 Responses to New GI Bill Signed Into Law

  1. Caroline Bruce (NZ) says:

    Hey Sam, Erin & Nicols & Neria Families,

    Glad to hear of Sams progress, really good to hear!!!
    Much love, support & prayers,

    from myself, my family & friends here in New Zealand.

  2. Tony Neria says:

    Sam moved his left hand for the 1st time today! The physical therapist was in stretching out his hand and fingers and asked him to move his fingers and he did. He was also able to move his hand and even his whole arm a little. Erin thinks the Adavan is helping to relax it. He also moved his fingers & arm a little! This is quite a boost to his confidence because he has been so frustrated that he can’t move anything on his left side.

  3. Ray Starkowski says:

    Was checking on another US Marine and saw this site about Sam!!!! Nice going Son/ Brother/ Marine. Will keep checking in, Just added another name to that prayer list and taken an annomonys for someone else. To you all from a Marine Dad!!! eric you will be in my thoughts and prayers from one dad to another…… Strength and staedy progress Way to go Brother…..

  4. Lori Peoria says:

    I am sending my love to all of you! I will remember your sacrifices on the 4th.

  5. V says:

    It’s hard to believe its almost been a year. Sam has improved so much and thats thanks to God’s grace and to Erin’s love. God bless you Sam!!!

  6. Lcpl. Thomas Baxter says:

    Dear Sgt. Nichols,

    Im glad to hear that your recovery is going good. I just found out about this blog from Chief James, he mentioned it to me when i was at BAS, the wound that i had sustained from that day are healed, and im getting knee surgery on the 11th of July cause of the blast.
    I was the turret gunner for Sgt. Nichols on July 24th. I miss Sgt. Nichols, he was like an older brother for me in the short time that I had spent with him. In late March i believe it was I had meet with Mrs. Robinson, Lcpl. Lynch’s mother, and was able to tell her what her son was like as a marine. Lcpl Lynch was awarded the Hawaii State Medal of Honor, I got the oppertunity to attend that ceramony.
    LCPL. Thomas Baxter

  7. Robin Sutcliffe says:

    Sam and Erin,

    It’s been quite some time since I’ve sent a message your way (I am Lindsay Christiansan’s sister-in-law from Kentucky. I met Erin at Chris and Lindsay’s wedding). Even though I haven’t sent a message I have been following Sam’s progress through this site.

    I want you to know that as the 4th of July approaches I will be thinking of Sam and all of our service men and women who give so much of themselves daily. I hope that you feel the love, compassion, and grattitude American’s like me feel for our soliders.

    Today, July 3, is my one year wedding anniversary. I am thankful to have found a love so pure and giving as I have with my husband. However, as I read this blog I realize what true love and commitment is. Erin, you are an amazing woman. The love the two of you share is the purest example of commitment, compassion, and love.

    Thank you for sharing your lives with me. You both inspire me to be a better person, a better wife, and a better American.

    Robin Sutcliffe
    Frankfort, KY

  8. Gail Read says:

    I am A Mother of a US Marine now serving in Iraq, My Son’s Best Friend new Sam and the 4 fallen Heroes who are now looking down upon Sam and all their other friends and family from the Heavens above knowing that they will all meet up again someday, what a glorious reunion that will be! Your story and updates have touched my heart, and I just want you and your family to know your all in my prayers and will always be, I believe God has remarkable things awaiting you. So many questions left unanswered, and we do not know why things happen the way they do. I DO BELIEVE THAT GOD HAS A GREAT PLAN AND HE CHOSE YOU TO TOUCH THE LIVES OF OTHERS. I thank you for all you’ve done and for who you are.

  9. Liz Finberg-Timmerman says:

    Ive always been touched by the love in the Nichols family and I have always been so grateful to be a part of it. Please keep staying strong and if you can let Sam know that he is in my thoughts every day. My mother too prays for him everyday for she loves Sam just as much as I do. I am not surprised at all by his gesture to you Eric. You and Kelley taught your children well.

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