America's fighting men and women should be able to count on the full and unwavering support of their government. Our nation's veterans have shown unwavering courage and bravery on the battlefield and should not have to fight to get the benefits they deserve here at home. I believe we have a duty to protect and provide for every American who serves, and I pledge to always honor their service, sacrifices and their dedication to their nation.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, signed into law in February, makes key investments for our veterans. It provides a tax credit for businesses to hire recently discharged unemployed veterans, and expands housing assistance for disabled veterans. This legislation also identifies and funds some of the most pressing infrastructure needs of the military and Veterans Administration, investing $1 billion to improve claims and benefits processing and to fund much needed maintenance projects. Funding these infrastructure projects will create tens of thousands of new jobs, along with taking another step in keeping our promises to our troops and veterans.
In 2008, my colleagues and I passed the new GI Bill for the 21st Century, which restores the promise of a full, four-year college education for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. These benefits, which started August 1st, are available to an estimated 2.1 million veterans. This year, Congress also extended those college benefits to all children of fallen soldiers since 9/11 (with no minimum military service needed to qualify).
To date, we have made progress in the key areas for veterans; jobs and the economy, health care, family support, housing and education. Yet, I will work with my colleagues to push for continued progress as more troops return home and look to return to civilian life.