Congresswoman Hirono Backs GI Bill for the 21st Century
Congresswoman Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawai'i) today announced her support for bipartisan legislation (H.R. 5740/S.22) to offer the 1.7 million brave men and women who have served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan educational benefits, on par with those provided to veterans of the World War II era. The legislation will give our returning troops the tools to succeed after military service, make military service more attractive as we work to rebuild our military, as well as boost our sagging economy.
"This is a significant step in honoring the service and sacrifice of our troops by restoring the GI Bill promise to pay for a full, four-year college education," said Hirono, a cosponsor of the bill. "Not only will the GI Bill for the 21st century strengthen our military, it will also make the heroes of Iraq and Afghanistan part of a new American economic recovery."
Under the new GI Bill, servicemembers returning from Iraq or Afghanistan, who have served 3 years on active duty, would receive benefits to cover the costs of a four-year education up to the level of the most expensive in-state public school, along with a stipend for housing, books and other expenses. Education benefits would be available to troops who have served at least 3 months of active duty service since September 11, 2001, including members of the National Guard and Reserve. Right now, veterans' education benefits cover only about 60 percent of the cost of a public-school education.
The original GI Bill launched millions of families on a course of prosperity and toward achieving the American Dreamand set the American economy on the right course after a draining war. It made a free college education available to more than 15 million war veterans after World War II. By 1956, about 8 million World War II veterans took advantage of the GI Bill education and job training programs. Every dollar spent on the original GI Bill created a seven-fold return for the economy.
The new GI Bill is broadly supported by all major veterans' organizations, including the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. The bill has 249 cosponsors in the House (including 71 Republicans) and 58 sponsors in the Senate (including 11 Republicans).