Bill to Improve Veteran Lives Moves Forward

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WASHINGTON–Reforms to the GI Bill recently approved by Congress are being hailed as big steps to improve the lives of veterans. The GI Bill helps Veterans pay for school after they leave the Armed Force

Congress has approved some major changes.

“This is primarily about giving more flexibility and choice to our veterans so they can use the benefits they so richly deserve and they earned,” said Sen. Tom Cotton(R-Arkansas)

Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton is an Army veteran who served two tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He says the reforms boost assistance to National Guard and Reserve veterans.

And pay for vets to receive nontraditional education like computer coding boot camps and independent study

“We want to make sure the benefit that they are receiving is most tailored to their life choices,” added Cotton.

All told the legislation represents $3 billion over 10 years more for GI tuition assistance. It’s paid for by a small reduction in cost of living expenses for new GI bill enrollees — a plan that’s drawing support from major veterans organizations.

One of the most profound changes applies to veterans who leave the military after 2013. It ends the 15-year time limit to use GI benefits that pay tuition. 

And it grants 100% benefits for certain purple heart recipients.

Walter Ochinko, with  Veterans Education Success, said,” Somebody who earned a purple heart and didn’t have enough months of qualifying benefits would only get a partial benefit or no benefit at all.”

Ochinko,  a policy director with the organization, also points to a provision increasing benefits for the dependents of fallen soldiers.

“It’s a wonderful expansion of the benefit and it rectifies a lot of the gaps.”

President Trump is promising to sign the legislation — if he does the first provisions to into effect January 1st.

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