Rutherford Applauds Legislation to Expand, Extend GI Bill
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman John Rutherford (R-FL) issued the following statement after the House Veterans Affairs Committee introduced the bipartisan Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 to modernize the GI Bill. This bipartisan, bicameral package is budget neutral and includes provisions that have been proposed and prioritized by Veterans Service Organizations.
Congressman Rutherford said, “Empowering our servicemen and women and their families through education and training strengthens our communities, invigorates our institutions, and brightens our future. We have an obligation to these heroes and their families to provide them tools to succeed in exchange for the service and sacrifices they make for us. I am proud to be a part of expanding and improving education opportunities for courageous servicemembers and their loved ones, and I look forward to the advancement of this bipartisan effort.”
The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 would remove time restrictions to use the GI Bill, enabling future eligible recipients to use their GI bill benefits for their entire lives, as opposed to the current 15-year timeline. It would also simplify the benefit for future service members by consolidating the GI Bill into a single program over time, which would reduce VA’s administrative costs. The legislation provides significant increases in GI Bill funding for Reservists and Guardsmen, dependents, surviving spouses and surviving dependents. It also provides 100% GI Bill eligibility to Post 9/11 Purple Heart recipients. In addition, this bill restores eligibility for service members whose school closes in the middle of a semester and creates a pilot program that would pay for veterans to take certain high technology courses.
The bill is named for the principal architect of the original GI bill and will improve and extend GI Bill benefits granted to veterans and their surviving spouses and dependents. Congressman Rutherford’s Julian Woods Yellow Ribbon Program Expansion Act (H.R. 2103) is included in this legislative package.
Currently, the Yellow Ribbon Program allows higher education institutions to cover additional tuition costs for service members utilizing their GI benefits, if the cost of attendance is above the cap set by the Post-9/11 GI bill. Unfortunately, dependents utilizing the Fry Scholarship are not eligible for this additional financial assistance. This means that surviving spouses and children of those who have died in the line of duty have fewer options for where they may use their education benefits.
The Julian Woods Yellow Ribbon Program Expansion Act would fix this discrepancy and allow those on the Fry Scholarship to be eligible to participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program. It is only right to provide the families of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice the greatest opportunity to succeed in their education.
More information on the bill can be found here.