07.24.17

Peters Joins Colleagues to Introduce Comprehensive G.I. Bill Reforms

Broad, Bipartisan Measure Will Make Necessary Improvements to Post-9/11 G.I. Bill Benefits for Student Veterans

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI), a former Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today announced that he joined his colleagues to introduce broad, bipartisan legislation that seeks to improve veterans’ education benefits and enhance the post-9/11 G.I. Bill. The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 will strengthen investments in the proven educational success of our veterans and help propel them toward becoming our nation’s future civic, business and public leaders.

“The G.I. bill is a sacred promise that has helped our nation’s veterans pursue higher education and launch successful civilian careers,” said Senator Peters. “I am pleased to join my colleagues to introduce bipartisan legislation that will modernize the G.I. bill to meet the needs of Reservists called to active duty and ensure all of our servicemembers have tools they need to be leaders in a 21st century society.”

The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 makes much-needed updates to the G.I. Bill for reservists, Purple Heart recipients, veterans who face school closures while enrolled and surviving family members. The legislation also provides increased resources and authority for educational assistance to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs, computer programming and career technical training.

Most significantly, this bill recognizes our country’s need for an agile and adaptable workforce, and encourages American workers to be lifelong learners. For that purpose, this bill ends the arbitrary 15-year limit for veterans to use their G.I. Bill benefits, allowing them to use their benefits at any time during their professional career.

Additionally, the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017:

  • Provides G.I. Bill eligibility for reservists mobilized under selected reserve orders for preplanned missions in support of the combatant commands or in response to a major disaster or emergency;
  • Provides G.I. Bill eligibility for reservists undergoing medical care;
  • Provides full G.I. Bill benefits for Purple Heart recipients regardless of length of service;
  • Extends Yellow Ribbon Program benefits to Fry scholarship recipients; and
  • Increases G.I. Bill payments by $2,300 per year for veterans with less than 12 months of active service.

The legislation is named in honor of Harry Walter Colmery, an Army Air Service veteran and former national commander of the American Legion who drafted the original G.I. Bill in 1944 to improve the transition for World War II veterans back to civilian life.

The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 is also co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Jon Tester (D-MT), Roy Blunt (R-MO), John Boozman (R-AR), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Shelley Moore-Capito (R-WV), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Susan Collins (R-ME), John Cornyn (R-TX), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Steve Daines (R-MT), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Al Franken (D-MN), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Dean Heller (R-NV), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Tom Udall (D-NM).

Companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by U.S. Reps. Phil Roe (R-TN) and Tim Walz (D-MN), chairman and ranking member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs on July 13.

Peters, a member of the post 9-11 Veterans Caucus, has long been an advocate for Michigan veterans. Last year, President Obama signed into law Peters’ bipartisan Fairness for Veterans amendment that helps veterans with a less than honorable discharge resulting from behavior caused by PTSD to petition for an upgrade in their discharge status. An upgrade to an honorable discharge would help certain veterans access benefits earned through their service like mental health services, VA home loans and educational benefits provided by the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill.