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This Week in Washington

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We owe such a debt to the Greatest Generation--those who carried our country through a time of financial hardship and war. They answered the call to serve in WWII and then came home and built our economy into the greatest the world had ever seen.

That same spirit and sacrifice still exists today. From folks like my father who made their way across Europe on D-Day, to the men and women who answered--and continue to answer--our nation's call in the days, months and years following the horrific attacks of 9/11, we can never fully repay them for all they've given. But as Americans, we must make it our main focus to forever try our very hardest.

The G.I. Bill

This past week marked the 67th anniversary of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's signing of the G.I. Bill. What started as an idea to give returning soldiers unemployment benefits in the event that work was hard to find, adapted into a benefit to allow those very same soldiers to buy homes and return to the promise of education that many of them left behind.

Surprisingly enough, the bill that would go on to become such a rich part of our nation's story of service and honor did not make much news that day. As President Roosevelt signed his name and the bill became law, the allied invasion of Europe was well underway. The very people the bill aimed to assist were 3000 miles away from the lives they put on hold, in harm's way defending our country.

A Promise of Education

With the signing of the G.I. Bill, our nation proved its understanding that education remains the key to success and a step in the right direction. We would help to promote the most important and valued asset one could have, and no one was more deserving than those who so proudly fought on behalf of our freedom. We would give them the additional tools they needed to keep our nation great and find success, and the most important was higher education.

This bill also helped avoid the fears many had about our economy. As our factories worked overtime to help churn out goods and supplies to equip our brave troops in WWII, many feared that the end of the war would bring our economy to a halt, relapsing into the past days of the Great Depression. By helping to support those returning soldiers, we put our faith in the system that our success would continue, and those who were set back by their deployment, be it in education or home ownership, would be rewarded for their service and ready to lead upon their return home, just as they had overseas.

Today's Heroes

As with any law, the G.I. Bill has been amended over time to adapt to current times and changing ways. In response to the ongoing global war on terror, I was proud to work to see that the Post-9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Improvements Act of 2010 became law last year, expanding provisions of the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill to our National Guard and Active Guard and Reserve units.

I am also fighting to continue the Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance Program, helping to expand the transfer of benefits to loved ones and family members of our disabled or fallen soldiers. Allowing the spouses or children of the men and women that have become permanently disabled, or have given the ultimate sacrifice for America, to have access to reliable education funding leaves a lasting benefit for all of our generations that follow.

Expansion of Education

I've continued my work in this Congress to see that the scope of this important program helps to meet each and every need of the people it was created to provide for. As times change, so too do the needs of our military families. I am proud to have pending legislation to help tackle many of the existing problems and needs of G.I. Bill beneficiaries and their loved ones. I am a proud cosponsor of H.R. 1910, a bipartisan bill that would allow those who have served active duty for over a decade the ability to also transfer all unused benefits to family members. This would even include the use of funds for job training as well as trade schools and workforce development programs to better assist our citizens in finding and keeping good quality jobs.

I have also cosponsored legislation to expand use of the education funds to be transferred to help meet the needs of military families with children with special needs. Often times, the specific and unique care that our loved ones require does not fall under the same broad language of the laws, and specific and targeted assistance is needed. As a proud cosponsor of H.R. 276, I will work to see that this freedom is granted to our soldiers, allowing them to cater to the education needs of their special needs child as they very well deserve.

Coming Home

Now more than ever, the advancement of our fight to protect our nation has shifted shape and scope, and the sacrifice and strain that we've placed on our soldiers and their families has been great. They have continually answered the call, and done so with the same courage and unwavering dedication of all who have come before them. Just like the Greatest Generation of our past--these too are my heroes. I'm proud to represent a district so rich with tradition in patriotism and service, and I will continue to fight each and every day to best care for all who care for and protect us.


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