U.S Senator Claire McCaskill is teaming up with Senator Jim Webb (Va.) to protect veterans' access to education and job opportunities under the GI Bill.
The Military Educational Assistance Improvements Act of 2012 strengthens the Post-9/11 GI Bill by ensuring that educational institutions receiving assistance through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Defense (DOD) meet commonsense requirements, including providing critical information to potential students. Additionally, the bill calls on state agencies to conduct greater outreach activities to veterans through events such as career fairs and training programs.
"Today, I'm honored to have the opportunity to stand up for our servicemembers and our veterans," said McCaskill, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Veterans Jobs Caucus. "Providing our heroes with a quality education, opening up job opportunities, and protecting them and their families from fraud are goals we should all be able to rally around."
The bipartisan legislation will streamline the complaint process for veterans who want to report instances of fraud, waste, and abuse within educational institutions to the VA and DOD. Implementing a centralized process will increase coordination between the VA, DOD and the Department of Education, which will be required to share information across agencies.
This bill is strongly supported by veterans' service organizations, including the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, American Legion, and Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Recent investigations by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) found that many for-profit colleges and universities use predatory recruiting practices and false advertising to encourage prospective students to enroll, despite having low student success rates and high costs.
McCaskill also joined thirteen of her colleagues in urging the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki, to file a trademark application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for the phrase 'GI Bill' in order to protect veterans from deceptive marketing by for-profit colleges and universities.
Last month, McCaskill also sponsored the Military and Veterans Education Protection Act to improve current laws regarding education benefits for servicemembers and veterans so that federal education dollars cannot be abused by for-profit colleges.