WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI), Chairman of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, issued the following statement after President George W. Bush signed H.R. 2642, the Emergency War Supplemental, which includes the Post 9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act, also known as the "21st Century GI Bill," into law.
"I am pleased that with the President's signature affixed to the Emergency War Supplemental, we will finally provide a new GI Bill to the veterans and troops who have served since September 11, 2001. I especially want to congratulate Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) on this occasion, who introduced the 21st Century GI Bill as S. 22 in the first days of the Democratic Congress.
"This new GI Bill will not only shape the nature of today's military, it will also shape the future of the military - and our nation - for many years to come. Today's new veterans will find that we fully appreciate the contributions they have made in service to the Nation. We understand the sacrifices they make, the hardships they endure, and the toll that is taken on their lives and the lives of their families. With this new GI Bill, we say to our newest generation of citizen soldiers, we appreciate you. We recognize that the ability of our Armed Forces to attract and retain quality personnel in the future - and consequently our national security - depends on how we meet the needs of those serving today.
"As Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, I am committed to assisting with the transition to this new educational benefit. In its oversight capacity, the Committee will work with the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs to resolve potential problems before the new benefits begin."