Our brave service members and their families have sacrificed to protect our nation. We owe them a bright future when they return home.
Entering the workforce after serving in the armed services can be a challenging task, especially in a rough economy. Maria's worked hard to ensure that our veterans are equipped with the job training, skills transition, education, and small business assistance programs they need to be successful. She is a proud voice in the Senate for active military servicemembers, veterans, and their families. She championed the Military Reservists bill signed into law to help Reservists maintain their businesses at home during deployment and find job opportunities when they return.
In 2008, Maria took on a leadership role in the effort to pass a long overdue update to the GI Bill. While she supported the version that ultimately became law, Maria drew on conservations she had with Washington veterans, who only used a portion of their education benefits before they ran out, and advocated for her alternative bill to give returning servicemen and women access to benefits for life. As one Army veteran from Bellingham wrote in support of this bill, "Just getting back on your feet after your military career takes years and soon the 10 year deadline for using the GI Bill has passed. Or, for some, they may be in school when their 10 year limit runs out. But, this does not change the initial investment these veterans made when they paid in their $1,200 dollars nor does it change the gratitude we owe every veteran for the time they have given to protect those we love; to protect our country and democracy worldwide." The GI bill signed into law raised the window for benefits from ten to fifteen years, but Maria continues to support eliminating the expiration date altogether.
And after news reports broke detailing the shocking treatment of soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Maria teamed with then-Senator Barack Obama to introduce the Dignity for Wounded Warriors Act and called on the Pentagon to review treatment of soldiers at Madigan Army Medical Center at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
Veterans should be able to count on a secure retirement, just like other Washington seniors and Maria has worked hard to ensure that. She's fought for full concurrent receipt, which would allow disabled veterans to receive both retirement and disability benefits without one payment reducing the other. She has also been a consistent supporter of improving access and quality of TRICARE benefits, and in 2008, she fought to overcome a Bush veto of legislation that would slash this program. Maria continues to work hard to prevent increases in premiums and co-pays for veterans.