Syracuse, NY – As recent veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan struggle to find jobs, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced a new push for legislation to expand the landmark G.I. Bill she helped pass as a Congresswoman and provide better higher education opportunities for more recent veterans, better preparing new veterans for the difficult economy.
The Post-9-11Veterans Educational Assistance Act would:
- Expand the benefits of the existing G.I. Bill for National Guard and Reserve members who have been deployed during domestic emergencies;
- Improve tuition benefits of the G.I. Bill to cover the full cost of a public, four-year institution;
- Expand coverage to include online learning and worker training programs;
- Cover the cost of books for active duty personnel, along with licensing and certification exam costs; and
- Allow veterans to transfer benefits to their family members.
“In this very difficult job market, too many veterans in Central New York are struggling to find good-paying jobs that can support a family,” Senator Gillibrand said. “These men and women sacrificed for our country, and now it’s time to fulfill our duty to them by giving them every opportunity to succeed. This legislation builds on the promise we made to our veterans, opens more doors to higher education and training opportunities, and prepares more of our recent veterans for the jobs of the future so they can succeed in the new economy.”
“We are grateful to Senator Gillibrand for her leadership in recognizing the tremendous contributions of our nation’s veterans. Each semester, Onondaga Community College serves more than 300 student-veterans, the largest population of all area colleges and universities. These courageous men and women greatly enrich the wonderful diversity found on our campus and in our classrooms, and we are proud to serve veterans and their families as a way of giving back to those who have given so much,” said Onondaga Community College President Debbie L. Sydow, Ph.D.
“The educational benefits that service members receive through the GI bill help them transition from military service to civilian life,” said Assemblyman William B. Magnarelli, D-120 (Syracuse, Geddes, Van Buren). “Expanding and improving those benefits help portray the message that we are thankful for their service and eager to help them reenter the ever modernizing work force.”
“The men and women who bravely and selflessly serve our country deserve our gratitude and support, and providing access to education is one of the best ways we can assist active duty personnel and veterans,” said Senator David Valesky.
Nearly 800 veterans under the age of 30 in Central New York are unemployed, according to data from the New York State Department of Labor. The Post-9-11Veterans Educational Assistance Act would make the following key changes to improve and expand benefits for service members today returning home to their families.
- Expand Coverage for Service during Domestic Emergencies
The bill would allow active duty service activated by State governors in response to natural disasters and other emergencies to count towards GI bill benefits. This restriction in the existing legislation prevents about thirty thousand National Guardsmen from receiving benefits.
- Simplify Tuition Benefits
The legislation would simplify tuition benefits to cover the full cost of an education at all public four-year institutions in a state. The simplified formula would make it easier for veterans to understand their benefits and make it easier for the VA to ensure the effective delivery of benefits.
- Support for Online Learning
Under the existing Post 9-11 GI bill, veterans enrolled in a distance learning or online education course would be eligible for housing assistance based on the zip code of their residence.
- Expand Benefits for On-the-Job and Apprenticeship Training
Under the current Post 9-11 GI bill, on-the-job and apprenticeship training are not covered by benefits. The new legislation would expand benefits to support veterans pursuing a new career that requires non-academic training, like a mechanic or EMT.
- Expand coverage for books for active duty personnel
Currently, GI bill beneficiaries still on active duty cannot receive the programs stipend for books and other course materials. Under the new legislation, these service members would be able to receive that benefit.
- Coverage for Licensing and Certification Exams
The legislation would pay for multiple licensing and certification exams. Current GI bill benefits will only pay for one such test.
- Better Enable Veterans to Transfer Benefits to Family Members
Under current law, veterans cannot designate a new beneficiary of their benefits after being discharged from the Armed Forces. The new legislation would allow individuals who have exited service to designate new beneficiaries.