NEW G.I. BILL INTRODUCED IN CONGRESS
House Conference Secretary John Carter (R-Fort Hood) today co-sponsored the bipartisan Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act which is designed to expand the educational benefits our nation offers to the brave men and women who have served us so honorably since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. H.R. 5740, introduced by Rep. Harry Mitchell (D-AZ), closely resembles the educational benefits provided to veterans returning from World War II.
"My colleagues and I remain committed to supporting the men and women who defend our nation and I will continue to put the needs of Americans in uniform at the forefront of my legislative agenda," Rep. Carter said. "This country has a tradition of offering educational assistance to our returning veterans since War World II. Under the current G.I. Bill, military veterans are required to buy into the program in order to get their educational benefits. I believe these soldiers have already paid the price with their unrelenting courage and sacrifice. They have earned the opportunity for a better education at a lower cost."
Major provisions of the bill include:
Increased educational benefits available to all members of the military who have served on active duty since September 11, 2001, including activated reservists and the National Guard. To qualify, veterans must have served at least three to thirty-six months of qualified active duty, beginning on or after September 11, 2001.
The bill provides for educational benefits to be paid in amounts linked to the amount of active duty served in the military after 9/11. Generally, veterans would receive some amount of assistance proportional to their service for 36 months, which equals four academic years. Veterans would still be eligible to receive any incentive-based supplemental educational assistance from their military branch for which they qualify.
Benefits provided under the bill would allow veterans pursuing an approved program of education to receive payments covering the established charges of their program, up to the cost of the most expensive in-state public school, plus a monthly stipend equivalent to housing costs in their area. The bill would allow additional payments for tutorial assistance, as well as licensure and certification tests.
The bill would create a new program in which the government will agree to match, dollar for dollar, any voluntary additional contributions to veterans from institutions whose tuition is more expensive than the maximum educational assistance provided under H.R. 5740.
Veterans would have up to fifteen years, compared to ten years under the Montgomery G.I. Bill, after they leave active duty to use their educational assistance entitlement. Veterans would be barred from receiving concurrent assistance from this program and another similar program.
Currently, veterans' educational benefits are administered under the Montgomery G.I. Bill-a program designed primarily for peacetime-not wartime-service. With many of our troops having served two, three or four tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is past time to enact a new veterans' education program modeled on the World War II era G.I. bill. These individuals have a short window of time in which to take advantage of an educational benefit after serving, and with six years already passed since 9/11, that window is now closing for many.
The G.I. Bill of the World War II era sparked economic growth and expansion for a whole generation of Americans; a more robust G.I. bill holds the same potential for today's economy. The United States has never erred when it has made sustained new investments in higher education and job training-and its veterans. Educated veterans have higher income levels, which in the long run increases tax revenues. Approximately 7.8 million veterans used the benefits in some form, out of a wartime veteran population of 15 million.
A strong and reliable G.I. bill will have a positive effect on military recruitment. Better educated veterans also have a more positive readjustment experience and lower levels of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Three former Presidents, a dozen U.S. Senators, three Supreme Court Justices and fourteen Nobel Prize winners went to school on the G.I. bill. Under today's Montgomery G.I. Bill, these same leaders would receive only a fraction of the money necessary to get the same level of education.