VA to Congress: Go Ahead And Fix the GI Bill, If You Can Find the Money

"The Department of Veterans Affairs is agreeable to extending Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to more servicemembers and their families, providing Congress can find the additional funding, a VA official testified Thursday," Stars and Stripes reports.

"The Senate Veterans Affairs’ Committee discussed 14 bills during a Thursday hearing, five of them to alter the GI Bill. Together, the GI Bill proposals would require at least an additional $360 million in VA spending during the next five years, according to the VA’s written testimony.

'VA has outlined support, with some concerns and a caveat that [the proposals] are subject to offsets,' said Curtis Coy, VA deputy undersecretary for economic opportunity.

Conversations about GI Bill fixes were derailed in the House in April, when veterans organizations became divided over a controversial idea to require servicemembers to absorb the cost of the expanded benefits.

... Another bill discussed in the Senate committee, the Yellow Ribbon Improvement Act of 2017, would expand eligibility for the Yellow Ribbon Program to surviving spouses and children of servicemembers killed in the line of duty. The program allows veterans to attend schools or enroll in programs that cost more than the GI Bill tuition cap.

The committee is also considering a bill to expand full GI Bill benefits to all Purple Heart recipients. Currently, a veteran must be medically retired from the military or have 36 months of active-duty service to qualify. The Military Order of the Purple Heart has said there are approximately 1,500 Purple Heart recipients who aren’t eligible for full education benefits.

The Senate committee has not yet scheduled a time to vote on the bills. A full list of the bills discussed Thursday can be found at veterans.senate.gov."

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Publication Date: 6/19/2017

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