Common-sense Legislation Will Protect Veterans’ Hard-Earned Educational Benefits Despite Challenges Presented by Global Pandemic
Washington, DC — Today, the House passed Representative Mikie Sherrill’s (NJ-11) bipartisan GI Bill NEED Act (H.R. 2167), which protects access to veterans’ GI Bill and Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E) educational and vocational programs from expiring due to national emergencies. This bill also ensures family members of those who die from service-connected disabilities automatically qualify for in-state tuition rates with their educational assistance and will give future recipients an unlimited time period to leverage that assistance.
“I’m honored to have led a bipartisan effort to ensure our veterans don’t lose their educational benefits as a result of the lost year of the COVID pandemic. I’m particularly proud that I was able to support the educational needs of the families of those who gave their lives for this country,” said Rep. Sherrill. “These are exactly the type of common-sense solutions that will make a direct impact on the lives of veterans and their families. It’ll ensure that they’re not left behind because of circumstances outside their control and ensure they’ll always be able to access the crucial, hard-won benefits they earned through their commitment to the country.”
“I am thrilled to see both the GI Bill NEED Act and VR&E NEED Act pass the House today. As a 24-year Army veteran, I know how important being able to use G.I. benefits is to ensure that our veterans can find meaningful employment,” said Rep. Miller-Meeks, the Republican co-lead. “Allowing veterans to fairly access their educational benefits is a simple way to ease their transition back into civilian life. I am proud to have worked with a fellow veteran, Rep. Sherrill, to support our veterans.”
The GI Bill NEED Act provides a host of educational benefits and protections for veterans and their families, including the well-known GI Bill program and a number of additional resources. These are the programs that ensure veterans get the education and job skills needed to find employment when they finish their service. In addition to shoring up the GI Bill, the legislation passed today provides critical protections to VR&E, which ensures that disabled veterans receive necessary vocational training and employment support. It also strengthens the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Education Assistance (SDEA) program to ensure that dependents of those who died of service-connected disabilities receive in-state tuition rates and future recipients have an unlimited deadline to use that assistance.
Additionally, the legislation overhauls the archaic VA educational benefits computer system, which has previously prevented veterans from receiving their benefits for months at a time due to crashes and technical difficulties. Rep Sherrill’s bill also launches a pilot program to provide grants for veterans to gain work experience through fellowships at non-profit organizations.
Rep. Sherrill led a bipartisan group of representatives to get this bill passed, partnering with Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks and an equal number of Democratic and Republican cosponsors.