Governor Bobby Jindal signed legislation today to extend TOPS eligibility for students that reenlist and maintain continuous active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces prior to the five-year anniversary of their high school graduation. The Governor signed HB 945 by Representative Henry Burns, which is part of the Governor's 2012 legislative package.
Governor Jindal said, "The brave men and women of our armed forces who chose to voluntarily re-enlist and continue their service to our country should not be unfairly penalized and lose their TOPS eligibility. This legislation fixes a loophole in the system and ensures that our veterans will not be forced to choose between their education and fighting for our freedom."
Since taking office, Governor Jindal has taken action to support and honor Louisiana's veterans:
In 2008, Governor Jindal signed an Executive Order that made Louisiana the third state to participate in the United States Army Partnership for Youth Success Program that encourages employers, like the state of Louisiana, to recruit former Army active and reserve members;
Governor Jindal redirected the Louisiana Military Family Assistance Fund to the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs. Since that time, LDVA has awarded more than $350,000 in financial assistance to more than 2,500 Louisiana National Guardsmen and Reservists.
Governor Jindal created the Louisiana Veterans Honor Medal, and since 2009, more than 30,000 medals have been awarded to Louisiana veterans.
Governor Jindal signed legislation to ensure veterans get the care they deserve by expanding the eligibility requirements of the Louisiana War Veterans Homes to allow the state to serve a greater number of Louisiana veterans. Over 80,000 peacetime Louisiana veterans and their spouses are now eligible for service at the War Veterans Homes
The Jindal Administration created LAVETBIZ, a program to assist Louisiana veterans who own their own business.
Over the past few years, Veterans Affairs has increased federal compensation and pension payments to Louisiana veterans by $36 million in the last fiscal year. This provides additional benefits to more than 304,000 Louisiana veterans.
Since 2008, the Jindal Administration has increased the presence of service offices with locations now open in every parish across the state. These parish offices provide veterans with local access to trained Veterans Assistance Counselors who help veterans and their families secure the benefits they earned through their military service. Louisiana now ranks 13th in the nation in benefits and compensation payments to veterans on a per capita basis.