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Public Statements

Providing for Our Men and Women in Uniform

Op-Ed

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PROVIDING FOR OUR MEN AND WOMEN IN UNIFORM

Last week, the House of Representatives passed, with my support, important legislation, the Supplemental Appropriations Bill, which continues to fund our military operations abroad and expands the education benefits for our returning service members, without raising taxes on the American people.

This legislation will better help to ensure that our troops have the tools they need to fight the war on terror. There is no doubt about it: the men and women of our armed forces have a tough job. Their job sometimes takes them far from home, separates them from loved ones, and puts them in dangerous situations. These brave men and women, through their service to our country, allow us to continue to enjoy the freedoms our nation was founded on and the Supplemental Appropriations Bill provides them with the funding they need for success - without any politically-motivated restrictions included in previous legislation that hamstring our commanders in the field.

The Supplemental Appropriations Bill includes important legislation, initially offered by Senator Jim Webb, which extends educational benefits to all members of the military who have served on active duty since September 11, 2001, including activated reservists and National Guard. The "Webb Bill", which is similar to the benefits that were extended to veterans returning from World War II, ensures that service members returning from Iraq or Afghanistan receive up to 36 months of education benefits, including stipends for housing and books. The legislation also allows veterans up to fifteen years, compared to ten years under the current G.I. Bill, after they leave active duty to use their educational assistance.

In addition to not including an over $50 billion tax increase primarily on small businesses like previous legislation I voted against, the legislation we passed last week includes another significant improvement. This important legislation includes a program which allows members of the military the ability to transfer any unused education benefits to their spouse or children. This vital program gives our service members greater flexibility in the use of the benefits they have so rightly earned. This landmark reform will be an important retention tool for the U.S. military. Since it is costly to recruit and train new enlistments, the transferability provision will ultimately help strengthen our all-volunteer force.

Today our troops continue to battle the foes of democracy and freedom in places like Afghanistan and Iraq. I commend the valor and courage of our troops who bravely step into unfamiliar territory against sometimes unseen enemies to protect millions of Americans and others they may never meet. I was proud to vote for the Supplemental Appropriations Bill which provides the necessary resources to keep the U.S. military ready to overcome any challenge and provides them much deserved and expanded benefits upon their return home.


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