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Rutherford Introduces the Julian Woods Yellow Ribbon Program Expansion Act

April 20, 2017
Press Release
Bill Will Enhance Education Benefits for Families of Fallen Service Members

JACKSONVILLE, FL. – Congressman John Rutherford introduced legislation to expand eligibility for the Yellow Ribbon Program to recipients of the Fry Scholarship, a scholarship which allows service members who are killed in the line of duty to transfer their education benefits to surviving spouses and children. 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.

In naming this bill, Congressman Rutherford recognizes Petty Officer 3rd Class Julian Woods, a Jacksonville native and Hospital Corpsman in Fallujah during Operation Iraqi Freedom.  Petty Officer Woods was killed by enemy fire when rushing to the aid of a fallen soldier.  He is a true American hero who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to a very grateful nation.  No one can understand this sacrifice better than the young daughter Petty Officer Woods left behind.  His daughter is now of age to attend college, and without passage of this legislation, she will be limited in the colleges she may attend under the Fry Scholarship.

Congressman John Rutherford said, “Empowering the family members of our servicemen and women strengthens our communities, invigorates our institutions, and brightens our future. Petty Officer Woods was an American hero, and we are forever indebted to the countless sacrifices made by our servicemen and women just like him. I believe it is our duty to make sure their families have the support they deserve, and I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation that expands education opportunities for the loved ones of the courageous service members who have died in defense of our freedoms.”

Carolyn Woods, mother of Petty Officer 3rd Class Julian Woods, said, “Any work Congress does to enhance opportunities for the families of those who lost a loved one in the line of duty is of incredible importance. Julian was a hero for our nation and our family, and I am proud his legacy remains in the Julian Woods Yellow Ribbon Expansion Act. I thank Congressman Rutherford for recognizing Julian, his daughter, and our family and hope this bill helps many families like ours.”

The original co-sponsor, Congressman Scott Peters, said, “San Diego is a proud military town that is home to not just thousands of brave service members, but their families as well. Military families make tremendous sacrifices in service to our country and deserve our gratitude and our support. Extending the Yellow Ribbon Program to surviving family members is a common sense way to keep our promise to military families that we will support them after their loved one falls in the line of duty.”

Jared Lyon, CEO of Student Veterans of America, said, “SVA stands with many other organizations in strong support of this legislation that would allow the dependents of a service member killed in action to access Yellow Ribbon Program benefits. The Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship goes to families that have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country; we believe they’ve more than earned the right to attend a school of their choice without comparatively minor tuition costs hampering their success.”

Michael Little, Director of Legislative Affairs for the Association of the United States Navy, said, “On behalf of the Association of the United States Navy, we would like to pledge our support for H.R. 2103. This bill would amend title 38, United States Code, to include the Fry Scholarship in the Yellow Ribbon G.I. Education Enhancement Program. Thank you for taking an active role in such an important issue to the military and veteran community by working to improve the lives and careers of those who served our great nation.”

Pictured: Helen Hartley (Family of Julian Woods) and Carolyn Woods (Mother of Julian Woods) with Congressman John Rutherford