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Manchin, Capito pushing for upgrades to G.I. Bill


The State Journal

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., are among a bipartisan group of senators who have signed onto legislation that would expand and reform coverage under the ages-old G.I. Bill.

Sens. Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito have signed onto legislation that would expand and reform coverage under the G.I. Bill.
(File photos)

Manchin and Capito are among senators who have joined with Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Sen. Jon Tester, D-Montana, and Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Georgia, in introducing the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017. The legislation is named after Harry Walker Colmery, a U.S. Army Air Force veteran and former national commander of the American Legion, who drafted the original G.I. Bill in 1944.

The original G.I. Bill was intended to help World War II veterans transition back to civilian life and provide funding for veterans to pursue their education.

“One of our nation’s great challenges today is making sure the new generation of veterans are able to effectively reenter civilian life,” Manchin said. “The post-9/11 generation of veterans are some of the best and brightest in the world. This bill is an opportunity to give back to these brave men and women, many from West Virginia, and make good on our obligation to serve those who have sacrificed for us and for this great nation of ours.”

“We owe a great debt of gratitude to the brave men and women who sacrifice so much for our country,” said Capito, who has also signed off on the bill. “This legislation will help our veterans obtain the education and skills to pursue fulfilling careers and set them up for success after service. I’m excited to join my Republican and Democrat colleagues in introducing this worthwhile legislation and look forward to working together to advance it in the Senate.”

Capito said one of the most important changes in the bill would be elimination of the mandatory 15-year limit on a veteran using G.I. Bill benefits. The change will allow veterans to pursue an education at any time in their careers.

The bill also would expand G.I. Bill eligibility for military reservists, would provide full G.I. Bill benefits to Purple Heart recipients regardless of length of service, would restore G.I. Bill benefits to students whose schools were closed while they were enrolled, would increase payments for veterans with less than 12 months of active service and would expand benefits for veterans seeking degrees in STEM fields.

“The G.I. Bill has provided generations of veterans with access to higher education after they have bravely served our country,” Tester said. “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 Sen. Isakson and our colleagues on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee to ensure veterans have every shot at success.”

“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,” Isakson added. “I am proud to introduce this important legislation with Sen. 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.”

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