When my time in the Army was cut short, I was fortunate to be able to use funding from the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill to get my degree at Harvard. Without it, I may not be a Member of Congress right now.
That's why one of the first bills I helped introduce when I got sworn in was a bill to ensure that all Purple Heart recipients who are honorably discharged, regardless of how long they served, have access to G.I. Bill benefits. Today, that bill was passed by the House of Representatives.
Providing a high-quality education to these heroes is the least we can do, which is why I’m proud to have lead this effort. The bill was passed as part of a big series of great bills for veterans that will also enhance G.I. Bill benefits, end the 15-year limit on G.I. Bill usage for qualified veterans, make the VA run more efficiently, help veterans get jobs and more.
In addition to enhancing G.I. Bill benefits for Purple Heart recipients, the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act also:
- Ends the 15-year limit on G.I. Bill usage for qualified veterans, allowing use of benefits for life;
- Provides G.I. Bill eligibility for reservists mobilized under selected reserve order 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;
- Extends Yellow Ribbon Program benefits to Fry scholarship recipients;
- Restores used G.I. Bill benefits to students who experience permanent school closures while enrolled;
- Increases G.I. Bill payments by $2,300 per year for veterans with less than 12 months of active service;
- Creates a pilot program for high-technology and computer programming courses;
- Expands education benefits for veterans pursuing science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) degrees;
- Increases amount of fees paid to schools for certification of student veteran enrollments;
- Improves the G.I. Bill information technology system to fully automate claims;
- Increases monthly amount of educational assistance for survivors and dependents of disabled veterans;
- Increases funding for state-approving agencies to conduct oversight of schools; and
- Allows G.I. Bill use for distance courses in technical and career education institutions.
These are all great wins for our veteran community, and I'm honored to have been able to help get this package across the finish line.