President Obama recently signed the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Improvements Act of 2010 into law. The new, bipartisan law is an update to the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and it renews our promise to the brave men and women who have served our nation in the military by:
* Offering new benefits to veterans studying at vocational schools.
* Granting GI Bill benefits to National Guard members responding to national disasters.
* Giving living allowances to veterans in distance-learning programs.
* Providing a new book stipend for active duty students.
* Expanding a program that allows the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to match dollar for dollar the financial aid package offered veterans from private higher education institutions.
This law will also streamline the processing of GI Bill benefits claims. The average processing time has tripled to 48 days since August 2009, and some veterans can go an entire semester without seeing their first tuition check - an unacceptable delay. This update is designed to help reduce the backlog.
I was a proud co-sponsor of this legislation, not only because I believe we owe our veterans every opportunity to get the education they earned, but because educating veterans provides a real benefit to our economy. According to veterans' groups, every dollar spent as part of the original World War II GI Bill added $7 to the national economy in terms of productivity, consumer spending and tax revenue.
The updated Post 9/11 GI Bill gives veterans, who face an unemployment rate 2 percent higher than their civilian counterparts, the tools to be more competitive in the professional marketplace without adding a single cent to the national debt. We all need to continue to support our veterans and make sure they get the opportunity to pursue their education and contribute to our economy.