Responding to concerns from veterans' service organizations and military advocates, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill is introducing legislation to protect veterans' education benefits from marketing schemes.
While the federal government already protects phrases related to other federal benefits programs, such as "Medicare" and "Social Security," no such protection exists for veterans' programs. McCaskill is backing a bill that protects the use of the phrases "GI Bill" and "Post-9/11 GI Bill," in order to prevent them from being used in misleading or dishonest marketing campaigns.
"Our veterans have earned every one of their benefits, and I'm not going to sit by while companies take advantage of those benefits just to line their own pockets," said McCaskill, whose father was a World War II veteran who attended college on the original GI Bill. "It's upsetting that this change needs to be made in order to protect our veterans and military families from marketing schemes, but that's the reality. We've seen shady advertising campaigns target the hard-earned educational benefits of our veterans before, but they didn't get away with it then and they won't get away with it this time."
McCaskill's bill would prohibit the use of these phrases, except with written authorization of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, in connection with any promotion, good, service, or commercial activity. If a person or company violates this protection, the Attorney General would be authorized to initiate civil court proceedings against the offender.
Addressing a similar issue earlier this month, 22 state Attorneys General endorsed a McCaskill plan to prevent for-profit schools from unfairly targeting veteran's educational benefits in an attempt to skirt federal rules.
McCaskill has been an outspoken advocate for military veterans since coming to the Senate in 2006 and was a founding member of the Senate Veterans Jobs Caucus. She was as a leading advocate for the Vow to Hire Veterans Act, and has repeatedly rallied support for additional care for veterans returning from combat duty.