Opening Statement of Hon. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, Chairwoman, Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity
During the 110th Congress, we successfully passed the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill to ensure that today’s veterans are afforded equitable benefits similar to those afforded to veterans that served during World War II. Furthermore, with the leadership of Representative Chet Edwards of Texas, we successfully passed the Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship to provide education benefits to the dependents of the men and women who passed away due to injuries sustained in support of missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
While these legislative accomplishments are significant, we must continue to provide the needed oversight while addressing the shortfalls of existing education programs to assure that student veterans receive their benefits in a timely manner without delay or undue hardship.
To take another step toward that goal today, I hope this hearing can focus on several critical issues related to the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill program:
- The ongoing effort to successfully implement the long-term solution to ensure that the VA’s Information Technology systems are robust enough to efficiently manage the program.
- The current status of the program as we begin the Fall 2010 school semester.
- A discussion of what changes need to be made to the program in order to better meet the needs of eligible veterans.
Some of you may be aware that yesterday the full Committee successfully passed H.R. 5360, the Housing, Employment, and Living Programs for Veterans Act of 2010, otherwise known as the HELP Veterans Act which is fully paid for without placing a cost burden on the taxpayers. This bill seeks to provide a number of important improvements to VA education benefits, including increasing the flight training allowance for Chapter 30 recipients; reauthorizing and extending the recently expired veteran work-study program; and increasing the amount of reporting fees payable to educational institutions that enroll veterans receiving educational assistance.
I look forward to advancing this bipartisan bill as soon as time on the House floor is identified. I also look forward to working with my colleagues to consider other legislative proposals that seek to address the current needs of our nation’s veterans. One such legislative proposal is H.R. 5933, the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Improvements Act of 2010, which was introduced by Rep. Walt Minnick. I know several of our witnesses have referenced this legislation today and I look forward to learning more about how the proposals in that legislation, as well as those included in similar and related legislation, could potentially impact the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill program and its implementation.