Senator working to restore education and training support cut by president
U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) is calling on Senate appropriations leaders to increase funding for state programs that help veterans and active duty personnel take advantage of their GI Bill benefits. In a letter to the Appropriations Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs, Cantwell asked for $19 million for State Approving Agencies (SAAs). SAAs certify the quality and integrity of education, training, and apprenticeship programs used by veterans under the Montgomery GI Bill. In his budget request for 2008, the president requested only $13 million for these vital programs, a 30 percent funding decrease over last year.
"We know that the GI Bill opened the door to higher education for millions of service members and veterans who wouldn't otherwise have had the chance to pay for college," Cantwell wrote. "Now, in the 21st Century - an environment in which enhanced skills, education, and job training are critical to employment - we must ensure that veterans always have this door open to them. ...With the number of veterans enrolled in educational programs expected to increase, it is imperative that the Committee restore funding to the State Approving Agencies."
In additional to certifying education and training programs, SAAs provide information about GI Bill benefits and how to use them, help veterans and active duty personnel select programs to enroll in, and assist military personnel in the transition back to civilian life. GI bill benefits cover education and training costs for veterans and active duty personnel, and Cantwell has long-worked to increase opportunities under this program.