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Introducing Legislation to Improve the Fry Scholarship

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. YOUNG of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to introduce legislation to improve the Marine Gunnery Sgt. John David Fry Scholarship.

Since 9/11, over 6,500 of our brave men and women in uniform have given their lives to protect our freedom. That number is tragic enough. But left behind by many of these soldiers is a family: wives, husbands, sons, and daughters. I think we all agree that we should do everything we can to help these families after their loved one makes the ultimate sacrifice.

My wife, Beverly, and I have come to know many of these families. We have visited with them at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. We have been to the funerals. It especially breaks our hearts to think about the children.

In 2009 the Fry Scholarship signed into law as a part of the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2009 (P.L. 111-32). The clear purpose of this measure was to promise Post-9/11 GI Bill educational benefits to the children of soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

Unfortunately, due to a technicality in the law that restricts eligibility to the child of a soldier who ``dies in line of duty while serving on active duty,'' some children of fallen soldiers have not been able to qualify for the scholarship.

During the early days of the War Against Terror, many active duty service members who suffered mortal injuries were medically retired to veteran status on the battlefield. The Department of Veterans' Affairs has informed me that despite the intent of the law, the children of these soldiers are technically ineligible for the scholarship.

The definition under current law is confusing for families and even for the VA. I have been made aware of instances where a child was able to receive scholarship money, and then was later asked by the VA to pay those benefits back.

My legislation clarifies that the children of a soldier who dies ``as a result of a service-connected disability'' is eligible for the Fry Scholarship.

This is a small change in the law that could make a big difference for the children we will help go to college. It is my hope that we can work together on this issue to get this fix signed into law.

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