Isakson, Tester Applaud Senate Passage of Comprehensive G.I. Bill Reforms

Bipartisan legislation makes much-needed updates to post-9/11 G.I. Bill, now heads to president’s desk to be signed into law

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Jon Tester, D-Mont., chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, today applauded the Senate passage of the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017, legislation to enhance the post-9/11 G.I. Bill.

“This bill invests in the proven success of our veterans,” said Isakson. “When our veterans return home, they should have every opportunity available to them to pursue their desired profession and career. I thank Congress for quickly approving this bipartisan, bicameral legislative package. This is a great victory for our veterans and their futures.”

“This bipartisan bill will help our nation’s service members transition back to civilian life by opening doors for their future success,” said Tester. “It also does right by Guardsmen and Reservists by getting them the education, housing and healthcare that they have earned. I look forward to working with President Trump to quickly sign our bill into law.”

Isakson and Tester introduced the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 in the Senate on Thursday, July 20, and it was passed by the committee on Wednesday, July 26.

The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 was passed by the U.S. House on Monday, July 24. Following today’s Senate passage, the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 will go to the president’s desk to be signed into law.

Background:

The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 makes much-needed updates 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 recognizes that American workers need to be lifelong learners. For that purpose, this bill eliminates the arbitrary 15-year period within which a veteran is required to use their G.I. Bill and instead allows them to use their benefits at any time in 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.

A one-page summary of the legislation can be found here.

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The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is chaired by U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., in the 115th Congress. Isakson is a veteran himself – having served in the Georgia Air National Guard from 1966-1972 – and has been a member of the Senate VA Committee since he joined the Senate in 2005. Isakson’s home state of Georgia is home to more than a dozen military installations representing each branch of the armed services as well as more than 750,000 veterans.