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Tillis Co-Introduces Comprehensive G.I. Bill Reforms

Sen. Thom Tillis

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, co-introduced 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, servicemembers, 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 extends 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 and their families who have served our country,” 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. This bipartisan legislation 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.”

“We have worked closely with our partners in the veterans community and with our colleagues in the U.S. House to ensure this legislation makes the necessary changes to improve the G.I. Bill and helps veterans succeed in their desired career field,” said Senator Isakson, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. “I am proud to introduce this important legislation with Senator Tester after the House introduced its companion legislation last week. We urge our Senate colleagues to join us in supporting these improvements to the G.I. Bill to help further our investment in the futures of our veterans.”

“The G.I. Bill has provided generations of veterans with access to higher education after they have bravely served our country,” said Senator Tester, Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs..“It’s been a pleasure working with my colleagues in the House and Senate, as well as veterans and advocates, to craft bipartisan legislation that will break down barriers to and strengthen education benefits for service members, Guardsmen and Reservists. I look forward to working with Senator Isakson and our colleagues on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee to ensure veterans have every shot at success.”

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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