US Senator Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA) announced the introduction of the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 in the US Senate. This bill improves education assistance programs offered to veterans by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Cassidy is an original cosponsor of this bill.
This legislation expands the Yellow Ribbon Program—extending eligibility for additional educational assistance to the children and spouses of service members who die in the line of duty after September 10, 2001—a provision originally sponsored in Cassidy’s Yellow Ribbon Improvement Act of 2017 (S.798).
“The Veterans Educational Assistance Act, which expands the Yellow Ribbon Program to the children and spouses of service members who made the ultimate sacrifice, demonstrates our commitment to our veterans and their families,” said Dr. Cassidy.
Other provisions in the bill include:
Education Assistance for Reserve and National Guard Service
Section 101 would count reservists’ service under section 12301(h) any time on or after September 11, 2001 as active duty for purposes of the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill.
Section 401 amends section 3301 of title 38, U.S.C., to include military service under the authority of sections 12304a and 12304b of title 10, U.S.C., in the definition of active duty for purposes of the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill.
Education Assistance for Purple Heart Recipients
Section 103 would amend title 38, U.S.C., section 3311(b), to allow an individual who is awarded the Purple Heart for service in the Armed Forces occurring on or after September 11, 2001 to be eligible for the maximum amount of educational assistance under the Post-9/11 Educational Assistance Program. Section 103 would also amend section 3317(a) to allow a Purple Heart recipient to participate in the Yellow Ribbon GI Education Enhancement Program.
Restores up to a semester of GI Bill if a school closes permanently
Section 107 would amend section 3699 to title 38, U.S.C., to provide the following:
If VA finds that an individual was forced to discontinue pursuit of a course or courses as a result of permanent closure of an educational institution or the disapproval of a course or courses and did not receive credit or lost training time toward completion of the program for that course or courses, any payment of educational assistance to the individual for pursuit of such course or courses under chapters 30, 32, 33, or 35 of title 38, U.S.C., will not be charged against the individual’s entitlement to educational assistance nor counted against the aggregate period for which section 3695 of title 38, U.S.C., limits the individual’s receipt of educational assistance.
Ends the 15-year limit on using the GI Bill
Section 111 amends section 3321 of title 38, U.S.C., to eliminate the 15-year delimiting date for the use of educational assistance under the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill and the Fry Scholarship for individuals who first become entitled to those benefits on or after January 1, 2018. For those individuals who become entitled to educational assistance under those programs on or after January 1, 2018, their months of benefits will not expire and can be used at any point thereafter.
To read the full section-by-section, click here.