Thursday, May 15, 2008

Step Up for the GI Bill

Today, hundreds of Young Democrats and young veterans are asking Congress to fulfill the promise we make to always stand by every man and woman who puts on the uniform in service to our nation. Young Democrats are urging immediate action on the Webb-Mitchell "Post 9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act," a bill that will expand educational benefits for the men and women who serve in our military.

"As both a student and a veteran, I know first-hand how important veterans' benefits, especially educational benefits, are to our service men and women coming home from overseas," said Cole Hickman, an Army Reserve Sergeant and Iraq war veteran who serves as Chair of the Young Democrats of America's Veterans and Military Affairs Caucus and President of the Young Democrats of Arizona. "This new 21st Century G.I. Bill will give America's newest veterans the support they need to become engines of our economy, improve our communities, and continue their service to our nation while at home, just like the greatest generation did after World War II."

"An investment in our veterans is an investment in America. For less than the cost of fighting in Iraq for one week, this legislation significantly expands benefits to our veterans," said Young Democrats of America President David Hardt. "We urge Congress to include this important legislation in the Iraq war supplemental bill."

Currently, educational benefits for veterans are dispensed based on a law designed for peace-time service -- a law that insufficiently handles all the veterans currently serving in a time of war.

The 21st Century G.I. Bill will:

  • Make benefits available to all members of the military who have served on active duty since 9/11/2001, including activated reservists and National Guard.
  • Provide benefits for tuition, housing, and books for up to 36 months of education for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.
  • Link amount of benefits to amount of time served on active duty.
  • Increase amount of time after leaving active duty to collect educational assistance to fifteen years compared to ten.
  • Allows additional payments for tutorial assistance as well as licensure and certification tests.
  • Create a new program in which the government will agree to match, dollar for dollar, any voluntary additional contributions to veterans from institutions whose tuition is more expensive than the maximum assistance provided.