October 27, 2010

Gillibrand Announces New Effort To Strengthen GI Bill, Expand Education Opportunities To All Members Of Military

New Legislation Would Provide Access to More NY Veterans, Create More Opportunities For Veterans to Find Good Paying Jobs

Amherst, 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 Western 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.”

Nearly 900 veterans under the age of 30 in Western 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.