Wenstrup Bill Included in Bipartisan Veterans Education Assistance Act of 2017
Washington, D.C. -- Today, the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee introduced the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Education Assistance Act of 2017 to help improve the quality and accessibility of educational benefits for America’s veterans. Language introduced by Congressman Brad Wenstrup, who serves as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Health, to increase access to GI Bill benefits for Reservists and Guardsmen, was included in the bipartisan Veterans Education Assistance Act.
“One of the most critical ways we can assist in a seamless transition from active duty to civilian life for those who have fought for us is improving the accessibility and quality of earned education benefits,” said Chairman Wenstrup. “These benefits are essential to helping veterans unlock opportunities, create a community, and find purpose in life after service. I am pleased that my bill to increase access to GI Bill benefits for Reservists and Guardsmen is among the many major reforms included in today’s legislation that make it easier for our warfighters to take advantage of the education opportunities they have earned and deserve. I urge the House to move swiftly to pass this legislation. Our veterans had our backs on the frontlines – it’s our job to have their backs here at home.”
“The men and women who serve our country as reservists or guardsmen deserve access to educational benefits to set them up for future success,” said Chairman Roe. “As a Reservist himself, Rep. Wenstrup understands firsthand the sacrifice of these servicemembers, and I thank him for his leadership to expand Reservists and Guardsmens’ access to educational opportunities through the GI Bill.”
After the legislation’s introduction, Chairman Wenstrup joined Chairman Roe and other members of the Committee for a press event to discuss provisions in the bill.
Legislative background: The bill includes numerous provisions, many coming out of collaboration with various Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs), to modernize and expand access to the GI Bill, to ensure our nation’s warfighters can be prepared for a fruitful career following their service and sacrifice to our nation. These include:
· Remove time restrictions to use the GI Bill for future eligible recipients. This would allow them to use their GI bill benefits for their entire life as opposed to the current 15-year timeline. Eligible recipients would be servicemembers, veterans and surviving spouses and children;
· Increase GI Bill funding for Reservists and Guardsmen, dependents, surviving spouses, and surviving dependents;
· Provide 100% GI Bill eligibility to Post 9/11 Purple Heart recipients;
· Provide GI Bill eligibility to Reservists and Guardsmen who are currently being put on active duty and convalescent medical leave orders that do not currently accrue GI Bill eligibility;
· Provide an extra academic year’s worth of Post 9/11 benefits for over 3,300 veterans (per year) to help them finish a STEM degree;
· Create a pilot program that would pay for veterans to take certain high technology courses (coding boot camps, IT certifications etc.) and provide living stipends to veterans;
· Make it easier and cheaper for veterans to use their GI bill to take national tests or tests that lead to a license or accreditation;
· Restore eligibility for servicemembers whose school closes in the middle of a semester (ex. ITT Tech and Corinthian); and
· Authorize funding for IT improvements to ensure that GI Bill claims are processed quickly and accurately.
More information on the bill can be found here.
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