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Sen. Thom Tillis

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, applauded the Senate passage of 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 includes the following provisions originally introduced by Senator Tillis as standalone legislation:

*The Veterans Education Experience Improvement Act of 2017, bipartisan legislation Tillis introduced with Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) that would improve veterans’ experience when using GI Bill education benefits and provide resources and training for the officials at educational institutions who serve student veterans, helping them achieve positive education outcomes.

*The Veterans Education Relief and Reinstatement Act of 2017 , bipartisan legislation Tillis introduced with Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) that would reinstate lost benefits to veterans whose Post-9/11 GI Bill education benefits are affected by the permanent closure of certain educational institutions.

*The Veterans Education Priority Enrollment Act of 2017, bipartisan legislation Tillis introduced with Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) to ensure that veterans, service members, and surviving spouses and children of service members who have died in the line of duty can take full advantage of their education benefits.

*The Yellow Ribbon Improvement Act of 2017, bipartisan legislation Tillis introduced with Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) that would extend Yellow Ribbon Program benefits to Fry scholarship recipients.

“Since it was first signed into law, the G.I bill has made a lasting impact on the lives of millions of veterans who have served our country and their families,” said Senator Tillis. “In this day and age, it is necessary to improve upon that groundbreaking benefit and make certain that our nation’s heroes have the opportunity to further their education. I applaud the Senate for passing this bipartisan legislation that will fulfill the promise that we make to our service members, and I’m proud that it includes multiple bipartisan bills I previously introduced to improve the educational experience for veterans.”

“This bill invests in the proven success of our veterans,” said Senator Isakson. “When our veterans return home, they should have every opportunity available to them to pursue their desired profession and career. I thank Congress for quickly approving this bipartisan, bicameral legislative package. This is a great victory for our veterans and their futures.”

“This bipartisan bill will help our nation’s service members transition back to civilian life by opening doors for their future success,” said Senator Tester. “It also does right by Guardsmen and Reservists by getting them the education, housing and healthcare that they have earned. I look forward to working with President Trump to quickly sign our bill into law.”

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;

*Increases G.I. Bill payments by $2,300 per year for veterans with less than 12 months of active service.

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.

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