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Senators Shaheen, Hassan Help Introduce Comprehensive G.I. Bill Reforms

Broad, bipartisan measure will make necessary improvements to post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits for student veterans

WASHINGTON – Today, Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined Senators Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Jon Tester (D-MT) in introducing broad, bipartisan legislation that seeks to improve veterans’ education benefits and enhance the post-9/11 G.I. Bill.

The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017, S.1598, will further invest in the proven educational success of our veterans and help propel them toward becoming our nation’s civic, business, and public leaders.

“We owe the brave men and women who serve our nation every opportunity as they come home and transition to civilian life,” said Senator Shaheen. “This bipartisan legislation will help veterans obtain the tools they need to succeed in the modern workforce, including valuable training in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. This legislation is an important investment in our veterans and in our economy.”

 “Our veterans have sacrificed bravely in defense of our freedoms, and we must ensure that they have the resources and support they need to thrive in civilian life,” Senator Hassan said. “Increasing access to education is critical to those efforts, and this bipartisan bill takes common-sense steps to improve and expand upon the G.I. Bill, which has provided millions of veterans with the educational opportunities necessary to lead successful careers in civilian life.”

The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 makes much-needed updates for reservists, Purple Heart recipients, veterans who face school closures while enrolled, and surviving family members. The legislation also provides increased resources and authority for educational assistance to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs, computer programming, and career technical training.

Most significantly, this bill recognizes our country’s need for an agile and adaptable workforce and that American workers need to be lifelong learners. For that purpose, this bill eliminates the arbitrary 15-year period within which a veteran is required to use their G.I. Bill so they can use their benefits at any time in their professional career.

Additionally, the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017:

  • Provides G.I. Bill eligibility for reservists mobilized under selected reserve orders for preplanned missions in support of the combatant commands or in response to a major disaster or emergency;
  • Provides G.I. Bill eligibility for reservists undergoing medical care;
  • Provides full G.I. Bill benefits for Purple Heart recipients regardless of length of service;
  • Extends Yellow Ribbon Program benefits to Fry scholarship recipients; and
  • Increases G.I. Bill payments by $2,300 per year for veterans with less than 12 months of active service.

A one-page summary of the legislation can be found here.

The legislation is named in honor of Harry Walter Colmery, an Army Air Service veteran and former national commander of the American Legion who drafted the original G.I. Bill in 1944 to improve the transition for World War II veterans back to civilian life.

Companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by U.S. Reps. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., and Tim Walz, D-Minn., chairman and ranking member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs on July 13.