Bill would expand services for veterans

Photo: Associated Press

The American Association of Community Colleges and five other higher education organizations are supporting a House bill that would strengthen and expand higher education benefits for veterans and their families.

“It comes at an important time for student veterans, as over five million Post-9/11 service members are expected to transition out of the military by 2020,” says a July 18 letter from the American Council on Education on behalf of the signing groups to leaders of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. The committee passed the bill on Wednesday.

According to the letter, HR 3218 would:

— Restore educational benefits to student veterans forced to discontinue their studies because of temporary or permanent closure of their institutions
— Nix time limits on accessing educational benefits for Post-9/11 recipients
— Add increases for reservists
— Expand full GI benefits to all Purple Heart recipients
— Expand Yellow Ribbon program to include surviving spouses and children of service members killed in the line of duty

The bill would also create a new program, the Edith Nourse Rogers STEM Scholarship, to support a fifth year of study for student veterans pursuing STEM degrees. The associations noted that many student veteran — one in five of whom major in STEM fields — take longer to complete degrees because of additional lab and course requirements for STEM courses.

House Veterans Affairs Committee Chair Phil Roe’s (R-Tennessee)
opening statement at this week’s GI bill legislative hearing.

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