Sixty-six years ago this week, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the original WW II GI Bill. This bold legislation helped over 8 million combat veterans attend school. These veterans are now revered as “The Greatest Generation.”
Little known fact: the original WWII GI Bill was not an immediate success. Within a year after the original GI Bill was passed, fewer than expected student veterans were using their benefits. It was clear to both veterans and Congress that, although the newly minted GI Bill program was generous, there was a lot of work to be done before it would become the smartest investment of the 20th century.
Ironically, many of the issues with the original GI Bill are also an issue with the new Post-9/11 GI Bill. Congress fixed the original GI Bill by creating a realistic national reimbursement rate, expanding the benefit to correspondence courses, and including vocational training programs. As you see, history does repeat itself and the new GI Bill needs the same upgrades.
The good news is last month Senator Akaka, who went to school on the original GI Bill, introduced S.3447. We like to call it the “New GI Bill 2.0.” If passed, it will make the following upgrades to the new GI Bill:
- Valuable Job Training: Extends the new GI Bill to cover vocational training.
- Full Credit for Full Time Service: Authorizes benefits for Title 32 Active Guard Reservists (AGRs).
- Fairness for Disabled Veterans: Provides a living allowance for full-time distance learners.
- Untangle The Yellow Ribbon Program: Simplifies and expands the tuition benefit.
- Books for Active Duty students
- Increased Voc Rehab stipends for Post 9/11 students
S.3447 needs some legislative polishing and we are working closely with Senator Akaka’s staff to get it done.
SVAC has already scheduled a hearing on this legislation for July 21st and we are leading the charge to get this bill passed before Congress breaks for election season.
If you are an OIF/OEF veteran, please click here to join IAVA. Not an Iraq or Afghanistan veteran? We need your support in this fight now more than ever. Click here to sign up and become a Civilian Supporter.