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Graham, Burr, McCain Unveil Legislation to Assist Servicemembers, Veterans, Guardsmen and Reservists With Increased Education Benefits

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Location: Washington, DC

GRAHAM, BURR, MCCAIN UNVEIL LEGISLATION TO ASSIST SERVICEMEMBERS, VETERANS, GUARDSMEN AND RESERVISTS WITH INCREASED EDUCATION BENEFITS

U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Richard Burr (R-NC), and John McCain (R-AZ) today unveiled the Enhancement of Recruitment, Retention, and Readjustment through Education Act.

The Graham-Burr-McCain bill enhances the existing Montgomery G.I. Bill by improving education benefits for servicemembers, veterans, and members of the Guard and Reserve. The legislation will help more military personnel attend college debt-free, and allow them to transfer their education benefits to their spouse or children. It also bolsters recruitment and retention efforts, encouraging servicemembers to continue their military careers.

"It is time we give back to those who have served and continue to serve our nation so valiantly," said Graham. "I'm proud to be part of this effort to recognize and reward the sacrifices service members and their families are making on behalf of a grateful nation. Our legislation increases the monthly benefit for active duty and reserve personnel and greatly expands the education benefits available to service members. For the first time we ensure that all servicemembers will be permitted to transfer their education benefits to their spouses and children, a much needed and long overdue improvement."

"An increase in Montgomery G.I. benefits is long overdue," Burr said. "This legislation goes a long way in providing servicemembers with the ability to attend college debt-free and improves one of the best recruiting and retention tools the armed forces have. I am pleased our bill will also allow more family members to take advantage of the education benefits that their loved ones in the military did not use. This measure is a simple and fair way to help active duty, veterans, Guard, and Reserves attain their educational goals and to encourage military careers."

"We have an obligation to provide unwavering support to our nation's veterans, and that is precisely what this legislation does," said McCain. "Men and women who serve their country in uniform deserve the best education benefits we are able to give them. That is why I am pleased to join with Senators Graham and Burr to announce legislation that significantly enhances the Montgomery GI bill and promotes recruitment and retention which is critical to an All Volunteer Military."

The legislation provides:

* An immediate increase in education benefits for active duty personnel to $1500 a month, and to improve retention, those benefits increase to $2000 a month after 12 or more years of service.
* Significantly increased benefit for members of the National Guard and Reserves.
* Transferability, the ability of service members to transfer their education benefits to dependents. After 6 years, half of the benefit may be transferred and after 12 years 100% may be transferred to a spouse or dependent children.
* Student loan repayment. Allows servicemembers to use up to $6,000 per year of Montgomery G.I. Bill education benefits to repay Federal student loans.
* Creation of a matching program to help more veterans graduate debt-free. Up to an additional $3,000 per year could be paid by the Department of Veterans Affairs in return for the school retiring some or all of the servicemember's debt.
* Access to Montgomery G.I. Bill benefits for service academy graduates and Senior Reserve Officers' Training Corps officers who continue serving.
* Builds on existing educational benefits program to ensure rapid implementation with minimal additional administrative costs.

"We do not need to reinvent the wheel," said Graham. "Our legislation improves benefits and modernizes the Montgomery G.I. Bill education program without creating new levels of red tape and bureaucracy."

"The Montgomery G.I. Bill education program is an extremely effective tool that creates a more educated workforce and helps our armed forces recruit the best our country has to offer," Burr said. "This legislation ensures the MGIB program will continue to help veterans, our military, and our country."

"We should encourage servicemembers to remain in the military, and they should be rewarded with additional benefits if they do," said McCain. "And, we need to ensure that families are not forgotten, which is why our legislation would allow servicemembers to transfer their benefits to their spouses or children if they so choose."


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