A small change could make a big difference for thousands of American military veterans who want to continue their education, according to U.S. Reps. Adam Putnam (R-Fla.) and Ron Klein (D-Fla.). The two congressmen are authors of bi-partisan legislation, the Test Prep for Heroes Act, which would allow veterans to be reimbursed for the cost of test preparation classes. The bill is being introduced today.
"Under the current Post 9/11 GI Bill, veterans can be reimbursed for the cost of licensing and certification tests, but they are not allowed any reimbursement for preparatory classes," said Putnam. "Sometimes these tests cover subjects the service-members haven't studied in years, which can put them at a comparative disadvantage to other applicants who may have recently graduated from high school."
"The GI Bill for the 21st Century was a landmark piece of legislation that will provide a new generation of veterans with the education benefits they have earned," Klein said. "But we must work constantly to update and improve this legislation to provide more meaningful benefits to the men and women who have served this country. That is exactly what today's bill will do. By providing access to more tools to help our veterans prepare for entrance exams and licensing tests, we can level the playing field and ensure they do not miss a single opportunity on the road to a college education."
Putnam added, "We also need to address the problems that have been reported in implementing the Post 9/11 GI Bill, which has meant delays in some benefits reaching our nations veterans. This must be addressed immediately."
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced recently that it has provided certificates of eligibility to nearly 200,000 applicants for the new Post-9/11 GI Bill. More than 61,000 payments totaling over $50 million to schools and students have been issued since the August 1, 2009, implementation of the new program.
The Post-9/11 GI Bill authorizes the most extensive educational assistance opportunity since the passage of the original GI Bill in 1944. The maximum benefit allows every eligible veteran, service-member, reservist, and National Guard member an opportunity to receive an in-state, undergraduate education at a public institution at no cost.
Since VA began accepting Veterans' applications on May 1, 2009 and school enrollment certifications on July 6, 2009, approximately 277,000 applications for eligibility determinations and/or school enrollment certifications have been received for the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
Since 2001, Putnam has represented Florida's 12th Congressional District, which includes most of Polk County and portions of Hillsborough and Osceola counties. Klein represents Florida's 22nd Congressional District, which includes portions of Broward and Palm Beach counties.
Note: At introduction there were 20 additional cosponsors of the Test Prep for Heroes Act:
Gus Bilirakis* (R-Fla.), Jeff Miller (R-Fla.)*, Tom Rooney (R-Fla.), Phil Roe* (R-Tenn.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W. Va.), Bill Posey (R-Fla.), John Campbell (R-Calif.), Robert Wexler (D-Fla.), Suzanne Kosmas (D-Fla.), Corrine Brown* (D-Fla.), Joe Baca (D-Calif.), Ander Crenshaw (R-Fla.), Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), Ginny Brown-Waite (R-Fla.), Harry Teague* (D-N.M.), Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-Fla.), Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), Vic Snyder* (D-Ark.), Vern Buchanan* (R-Fla.)