FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, July 20, 2017
Contact: Amanda Maddox (Isakson), 202-224-7777
Marneé Banks (Tester), 202-604-5521
Isakson, Tester Introduce Comprehensive G.I. Bill Reforms
Broad, bipartisan measure will make necessary improvements to post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits for student veterans
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Jon Tester, D-Mont., chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, today introduced broad, bipartisan legislation that seeks to improve veterans’ education benefits and enhance the post-9/11 G.I. Bill.
The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017, S.1598, will further invest in the proven educational success of our veterans and help propel them toward becoming our nation’s civic, business and public leaders.
“We have worked closely with our partners in the veterans community and with our colleagues in the U.S. House to ensure this legislation makes the necessary changes to improve the G.I. Bill and helps veterans succeed in their desired career field,” said Isakson.“I am proud to introduce this important legislation with Senator Tester after the House introduced its companion legislation last week. We urge our Senate colleagues to join us in supporting these improvements to the G.I. Bill to help further our investment in the futures of our veterans.”
“The G.I. Bill has provided generations of veterans with access to higher education after they have bravely served our country,” said Tester. “It’s been a pleasure working with my colleagues in the House and Senate, as well as veterans and advocates, to craft bipartisan legislation that will break down barriers to and strengthen education benefits for servicemembers, Guardsmen and Reservists. I look forward to working with Senator Isakson and our colleagues on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee to ensure veterans have every shot at success.”
The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 makes much-needed updates for reservists, Purple Heart recipients, veterans who face school closures while enrolled and surviving family members. The legislation also provides increased resources and authority for educational assistance to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs, computer programming and career technical training.
Most significantly, this bill recognizes our country’s need for an agile and adaptable workforce and that American workers need to be lifelong learners. For that purpose, this bill eliminates the arbitrary 15-year period within which a veteran is required to use their G.I. Bill so they can use their benefits at any time in their professional career.
Additionally, the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017:
· Provides G.I. Bill eligibility for reservists mobilized under selected reserve orders for preplanned missions in support of the combatant commands or in response to a major disaster or emergency;
· Provides G.I. Bill eligibility for reservists undergoing medical care;
· Provides full G.I. Bill benefits for Purple Heart recipients regardless of length of service;
· Extends Yellow Ribbon Program benefits to Fry scholarship recipients; and
· Increases G.I. Bill payments by $2,300 per year for veterans with less than 12 months of active service.
A one-page summary of the legislation can be found here.
The legislation is named in honor of Harry Walter Colmery, an Army Air Service veteran and former national commander of the American Legion who drafted the original G.I. Bill in 1944 to improve the transition for World War II veterans back to civilian life.
The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 has broad bipartisan support in the Senate and is cosponsored by U.S. Sens. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., John Boozman, R-Ark., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Shelley Moore-Capito, R-W.V., Ben Cardin, D-Md., Susan Collins, R-Maine, John Cornyn, R-Texas, Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, Steve Daines, R-Mont., Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., Deb Fischer, R-Neb., Al Franken, D-Minn., Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., Dean Heller, R-Nev., Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., Tim Kaine, D-Va., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., Jerry Moran, R-Kan., Bill Nelson, D-Fla., Gary Peters, D-Mich., Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Mike Rounds, R-S.D., Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, Thom Tillis, R-N.C., and Tom Udall, D-N.M.
Companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by U.S. Reps. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., and Tim Walz, D-Minn., chairman and ranking member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs on July 13.
The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is chaired by U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., in the 115th Congress. Isakson is a veteran himself – having served in the Georgia Air National Guard from 1966-1972 – and has been a member of the Senate VA Committee since he joined the Senate in 2005. Isakson’s home state of Georgia is home to more than a dozen military installations representing each branch of the armed services as well as more than 750,000 veterans.