Isakson’s Comprehensive G.I. Bill Reforms Signed into Law

Bipartisan legislation makes much-needed updates to post-9/11 G.I. Bill

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, today applauded the president’s signing into law the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017, legislation Isakson introduced to enhance the post-9/11 G.I. Bill.

“By enacting this law, we are making an important investment in the proven success of our veterans,” said Isakson. “This is a truly meaningful victory for our veterans, who should have every opportunity available to them to pursue their desired profession and career after they return from duty. The 1.1 million individuals using VA education benefits each year will all benefit from these reforms, and even more veterans will gain eligibility for these benefits. I appreciate the members of Congress and the president for implementing these important reforms to aid our veterans and support their futures.”

Isakson introduced the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 in the Senate on July 20. The legislation was passed by the U.S. House on July 24, and it passed the Senate by voice vote on August 2.

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 to help cover the costs of attending private universities; 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.