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Committee Leaders Introduce Legislation to Expand, Extend GI Bill

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Today, Chairman Phil Roe, M.D. (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Tim Walz (D-Minn.) introduced the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017, named for the principal architect of the original GI Bill, to improve and extend GI Bill benefits granted to veterans, their surviving spouses and dependents.

Chairman Roe and Ranking Member Walz, along with Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.), made the following statements in support of the bill:

“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,” said Roe. “One essential way we can empower servicemembers is to give them the tools they need to succeed in whatever career they pursue. Data shows time and time again that student veterans outperform their peers in the classroom, and I’m proud of this bipartisan legislation to expand GI Bill benefits. The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 makes lasting changes to the GI Bill by expanding educational benefits for our nation’s heroes, their dependents and surviving spouses. I’m particularly proud that, for the first time in the history of the GI Bill, new beneficiaries will be able to use this tremendous benefit throughout their lifetimes. A lot of work has gone into this process, and I thank the Veterans Service Organizations for their tireless and continued dedication to our nation’s veterans. I’m proud to work with Ranking Member Walz and members from both sides of the aisle to prioritize the future of America’s heroes and their loved ones, and I look forward to getting this important legislation to President Trump’s desk.”

“The original G.I. Bill served as the foundation upon which an entire generation of servicemembers returning from World War II built not just their educations but their entire civilian lives,” Rep. Walz said. “Since that time, the G.I. Bill has remained the preeminent means by which millions of veterans pursued quality higher education and raised middle-class families upon their return home. That is why I am so proud to announce, alongside my friend and colleague Chairman Phil Roe, the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017. This bipartisan G.I. Bill will improve the lives of future generations of veterans by enhancing existing benefits, correcting current gaps in eligibility, and providing new benefits to help our veterans in today’s economy without asking our troops or American taxpayers to pay more. A lot of hard work and deliberation went into crafting this legislation and I want to thank the Members on both sides of the aisle as well as our well-respected veterans service organizations (VSOs) for their commitment to our nation’s veterans and their families.”  

“We applaud the House for putting together a bill that addresses so many of our veterans’ and surviving families’ most urgent needs in the Post-9/11 GI Bill,” said Isakson and Tester. “We are grateful to Chairman Roe and Ranking Member Walz for their tireless dedication to our veterans and look forward to working in the Senate on similar legislation to address these critical issues.”

The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 would remove time restrictions to use the GI Bill, enabling future eligible recipients to use their GI bill benefits for their entire lives, as opposed to the current 15-year timeline. It would also simplify the benefit for future servicemembers by consolidating the GI Bill into a single program over time, which would reduce VA’s administrative costs. The legislation provides significant increases in GI Bill funding for Reservists and Guardsmen, dependents, surviving spouses and surviving dependents. It also provides 100% GI Bill eligibility to Post 9/11 Purple Heart recipients. In addition, this bill restores eligibility for servicemembers whose school closes in the middle of a semester and creates a pilot program that would pay for veterans to take certain high technology courses.

This bipartisan, bicameral package is budget neutral and includes provisions that have been proposed and prioritized by Veterans Service Organizations. It is sponsored by every member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

More information on the bill can be found here

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