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Walden: We Owe Today's Men and Women in Uniform Better G.I. Bill Benefits

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Location: Prineville, OR


Walden: We owe today's men and women in uniform better G.I. Bill benefits

Announcement comes during swing through Umatilla, Morrow, Crook, Deschutes, Jackson, Josephine counties to focus on economic development, renewable energy

Congressman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) will announce at today's Crook County Rotary lunch that he's helping lead an effort in the nation's capital to expand G.I. Bill benefits to more closely mirror the policy's benefits for the World War II generation.

"Our men and women in uniform who volunteer to serve and put everything on the line to protect this country deserve everything we can possibly give back to them," Walden said. "One of the best benefits we can offer is the means to get a higher education. It's time for a new G.I. Bill that gives our veterans all the support they need to go to college and springboard their future careers."

The bipartisan Post 9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2007 (H.R. 2702) is designed to provide veterans with similar educational benefits as those given to World War II veterans.

Currently, veterans receive a maximum benefit of $1,100 a month, or $39,600 over a traditional four-year course of study of 36 months, under the Montgomery G.I. Bill. According to the College Board, the average estimated budget for four-year public undergraduate study is $69,344.

This bill would reform the G.I. Bill to provide tuition, books, fees, plus a monthly stipend of $1,000. The bill will also allow payments for tutorial assistance as well as licensure and certification tests. A veteran qualifying for full benefits and attending full-time would receive approximately $65,916 over four years.

The bill is sponsored by Congressman Bobby Scott (D-Virg.), and similar legislation has also been introduced in the Senate by Senator Jim Webb (D-Virg.). The Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the Military Officers Association of America, the American Legion, and the Vietnam Veterans of America, among other VSO groups, support the bill.

Major Provisions of the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2007 (H.R. 2702)

* Like previous G.I. Bills, veterans would receive educational assistance for up to a total of 36 months, which equals four academic years.

* Currently, veterans receive a maximum benefit of $1,100 a month, or $39,600 over 36 months. According to the College Board, the average estimated budget for four-year public undergraduate study is $69,344.

* The bill would provide veterans pursuing an approved program of education with benefits to cover their tuition, books, fees, and a monthly stipend of $1,000. The bill will also allow payments for tutorial assistance as well as licensure and certification tests. A veteran qualifying for full benefits and attending full-time would receive approximately $65,916.

* This bill would increase educational benefits to members of the military who have served on active duty since September 11, 2001. To qualify, veterans must have served as least two years of active duty, with at least some period of active duty time served beginning on or after September 11, 2001. This includes members of the Reserve and National Guard who have served an aggregate of two years of active duty service on or after September 11, 2001.

* The House version of the bill would limit benefit payments to the cost of in-state tuition at the most expensive public institution in the state in which the veteran is enrolled. If the veteran were to decide to attend a private institution, the veteran would have to pay the difference between the cost of the private institution and the in-State tuition of the most expensive public institution of the State in which the veteran is enrolled.

* Veterans would have up to fifteen years to exercise their educational assistance benefits. Currently, veterans have ten years.


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