Honolulu, HI—Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02), co-chair of the Post 9/11 Veterans Caucus, released the statement below after legislation she helped introduce to improve and extend GI Bill education benefits for veterans, their surviving spouses and dependents was signed into law today. The legislation passed both the House and Senate unanimously, and is widely supported by veteran and education advocacy organizations, including Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the Enlisted Association of The National Guard of The United States, the American Council on Education, the Association of American Universities, the STEM Education Coalition, and others.
“Every single day, roughly 500 veterans are transitioning from military life to civilian life, joining the more than 2.9 million veterans who have returned home since 9/11 alone. We have a responsibility to ensure that our troops and veterans are set up for success in the 21st century economy when they lay down the uniform and transition to civilian life. This bipartisan legislation enhances existing benefits, expands eligibility, eliminates bureaucratic barriers, and empowers our troops, veterans and their dependents to get the quality education they’ve earned and deserve. More than 7,000 Hawaiʻi veterans used their earned education benefit to open the door to new opportunities for them and their families last year, and this law will help our next generation of service members to further build on this progress,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.
Background: The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 (H.R.3218) will apply to all new enlistees in the military, and will:
Remove time restrictions to use the GI Bill, enabling future eligible recipients to use their GI bill benefits for their entire lives, as opposed to the current 15-year timeline
Simplify the benefit for future servicemembers by consolidating the Montgomery GI Bill and the Post-9/11 GI Bill into a single program over time, which would reduce the VA’s administrative costs
Provide significant increases in GI Bill funding for Reservists and Guardsmen, dependents, surviving spouses and surviving dependents
Provide 100% GI Bill eligibility to Post 9/11 Purple Heart recipients
Restore eligibility for servicemembers whose school closes in the middle of a semester and create a pilot program that would pay for veterans to take certain high technology courses.