Legislation Would Expand Future Veterans’ GI Bill Access
A bill introduced Thursday would majorly expand new service members’ access to education benefits provided under the GI Bill. The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act (H.R. 3218) was introduced by Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN), who chairs the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, and would remove a 15-year deadline on access to the GI’s educational benefits for veterans who become GI Bill-eligible after January 1st, 2018. Currently, limitations state that GI benefits must be used within 15-years of last active duty discharge date. Notably, the 15-year time limit would still apply to current active service members and veterans.
The bill also expands the GI Bill’s benefits to certain reservists and members of the National Guard and guarantees benefits for all recipients of the Purple Heart.
Some of the bill’s other provisions are less far-reaching, but have been praised by many veterans’ advocates, including the restoration of GI bill benefits for veterans whose schools were shuttered following the Obama Administration’s more stringent regulations on for-profit education establishments. Thousands of veterans found they were ineligible for the same restitution others received, an oversight remedied by Rep. Roe’s bill.
In addition to the veterans impacted by the bill, the legislation extends “Yellow Ribbon” eligibility – an educational assistance offered under the GI Bill – to spouses and dependents of a GI Bill-eligible veteran and provides additional funds for military students pursuing STEM-related degrees.
Veterans’ advocates were almost unanimously supportive of the legislation. Charles Schmidt, national commander of the American Legion, said, “This bill, as currently written, would launch a new era for all who have honorably served in uniform, and for the nation as a whole.”
In his official statement upon the legislation’s introduction, Rep. Roe said, “We have a duty to care for every man and woman who has served their country honorably as they begin their transition from active duty to civilian life. One essential way we can empower servicemembers is to give them the tools they need to succeed in whatever career they pursue.
The legislation, if passed, would mark the first major expansion of the GI Bill since 2008 and is scheduled for a committee markup on July 19th.
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