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Improving Transparency of Education Opportunities for Veterans Act of 2012

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Unknown

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Ms. JACKSON LEE of Texas. I thank Mr. Michaud very much. I thank him for his leadership on this legislation. And I thank the chairman of the Veterans' Affairs Committee and the author of the bill, along with Mr. Michaud and Mr. Bilirakis, for their leadership.

Texas competes with many States for the number of returning soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan and certainly is known for the presence of veterans from almost every single war. We are a State of military personnel and military bases, and Houston is known as well for the large numbers of veterans residing there.

I happen to represent the veterans cemetery and interact with veterans on a regular basis. We have Ellington Field, which we hope will some day hold one of the major commands. So we see veterans every day, and we have the opportunity to interact. And we know their dreams and aspirations and those of their family members.

I rise to support H.R. 4057 with the Senate amendment to particularly emphasize some very important points. I want veterans to be treated fairly. I want them to be able to build on the training and the amount of talent that they've built on in the United States military. This legislation protects them and acts to help them utilize the post-Iraq and Afghanistan GI Bill, one of the most unique initiatives in the Nation and one that we supported in a bipartisan way.

This legislation will allow the VA to conduct a market survey of online tools that allow veterans to assess their academic preparedness, to pursue postsecondary education training opportunities, and provide these veterans with a list of institutions that match the criteria. That is our Achilles' heel. Veterans come back, they see a lot of advertisements, they are attracted to a number of institutions; but they may not work for them. This kind of tracking and guidance will say, We really appreciate you; we want you to use these resources in the best way possible. In addition, the VA will then be required or will be able to secure information from other Departments, like the Department of Education, to know about these institutions and guide our veterans in the best way possible.

I see veterans, as I said, all the time. I see homeless veterans. I see veterans seeking services. I see veterans, as many of us do, in our offices. They want information. They want to be respected. They want to be able to contribute in today's society, to help their families, and to use those skills where they were serving their Nation in the best way possible.

I believe the gift that we've given them in education should be a guided gift to give them the kind of pathway, if you will, that will make sure that these resources are used in the best way possible. So I support this legislation.

I would finally say that I additionally support the bill coming up about dignified burial and other veterans benefits just to specifically say because of my district having the veterans cemetery, because of the many issues we have dealt with in the particular cemetery in Houston, this is great news to
know that no veteran will be undermined in their burial, no veteran will be in an undignified burial because of this legislation.

I thank my colleagues for moving forward on recognizing that our veterans have sacrificed for us. We need now to respect that and sacrifice for them.

With that, I ask my colleagues to support the legislation.

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