Congressman Tim Ryan Praises Senate Passage of the Forever GI bill

Washington, DC -- Congressman Tim Ryan (D-OH) today praised the unanimous Senate passage of the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Education Assistance Act, of which he is an original co-sponsor of the House legislation. This legislation, also known as the “Forever GI Bill” provides comprehensive improvements to the GI Bill benefits for our Veterans and servicemembers. The bill previously passed the House in a bipartisan vote, 405 for and 0 against. 

“I was proud to cast my vote in favor of this bipartisan legislation in the House, which is designed to honor America’s commitment to our military past and present. I am equally as proud to see my colleagues in the Senate expeditiously pass this legislation in an overwhelmingly bipartisan manner. This legislation was developed by working closely with Veterans Service Organizations in order to truly meet the needs of our Veterans.  Taking care of our servicemembers and veterans is the solemn responsibility of each Member of Congress, and one that as a member of the Defense and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittees I take very seriously,” said Congressman Ryan. “I am also pleased that this legislation includes language similar to my Veterans Priority Enrollment Act, incorporating a VA Comparison Tool, which will let Veterans have clear answers on which schools offer veteran’s priority registration. We should be doing everything in our power to make it easier for our men and women in uniform to get a stress free, quality education, and I am glad this bill, which will soon become law, takes a good step forward in this direction.”

This bill also:

---Improves benefits for Servicemembers and Veterans by

o establishing a pilot program to provide coding and IT bootcamps, as well as other high technology accelerated learning programs, to Veterans.

o Restoring and protecting GI Bill benefits for veterans when a school closes in the middle of a semester, which impacted many Ohio Veterans when ITT Tech unexpectedly closed mid-semester.

o Making it easier and cheaper for Veterans to use their GI bill to take national tests or tests that lead to a license or credential.

---Provides an additional 9 months of GI Bill eligibility for veterans working for STEM degrees.  This will benefit more than 3,300 Veterans per year and help our nation increase expertise in these critical fields.

---Supports tens of thousands of National Guard and Reservists by:

o Removing arbitrary distinctions in GI Bill eligibility based on different administrative codes in National Guard orders.

o Increasing eligibility for those with less than 36-months of active duty time. 

---Honors our commitment to those who gave the most:

o Provides full Post 9/11 GI Bill eligibility to all Purple Heart recipients.

oExtends Yellow Ribbon Program eligibility to Purple Heart recipients and survivor dependents (spouses and children) receiving benefits under the Fry Scholarship.

o Establishes the first increase in decades to benefits for survivor and 100% disabled Veteran dependents using the Dependent Education Benefit. This will positively impact 100,000 Americans. 

---Simplifies the system and reduces administrative costs by:

o Providing the same GI Bill benefits to all our Veterans and servicemembers regardless of if they served pre- or post- 9/11.  Our Vietnam and Cold War era Veterans earned our highest degree of respect and care in the same manner as our Post 9/11 Veterans.

o Improving the VA’s IT infrastructure and admin processes to provide quicker and more accurate claim support.

Congressman Ryan has introduced the Veterans Priority Enrollment Act of 2017 (HR 1793), which requires that any university, community college or other educational institutions that offer priority enrollment, similar to those available to student athletes, must also make it available to our veterans and servicemembers.  The Forever GI Bill includes similar language that will help increase access to priority registration for Veteran’s unique schedule needs.