Senate Unanimously Passes Sullivan-Backed “Forever” GI Bill Legislation

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK), a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, spoke yesterday at the national Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) headquarters to celebrate the Senate’s unanimous passage of the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017, legislation co-sponsored by Sullivan, alongside Chairman Johnny Isakson (R-GA), that would eliminate the 15-year expiration date for veterans to use their G.I. benefits and expand eligibility to more veterans, service members and their dependents.

“The G.I. Bill really enabled members of the Greatest Generation to work hard, pursue their dreams, and do amazing things for America after World War II,” said Senator Sullivan. “We now have a new ‘Greatest Generation,’ the post-9-11 men and women in uniform who went overseas to defend our country after the terrorist attacks. I believe this legislation is going to bring out the same can-do spirit in a new generation of veterans and service members, encouraging them to get their education, better themselves, and continue to contribute to the well-being of Alaska and our nation. I’m optimistic we will get this bill to the President’s desk, and I’m excited for what these reforms will mean for so many patriotic Alaskans and their families.”

The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017—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—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.

The bill recognizes the country’s need for an agile and adaptable workforce and that American workers need to be lifelong learners. For that purpose, the legislation eliminates the arbitrary 15-year period within which a veteran is required to use their G.I. Bill so they can 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.
  • A one-page summary of the legislation can be found here.

In addition to the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017, the Senate also unanimously passed the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017, legislation to improve the efficiency of the veterans’ benefits appeals process, reducing the enormous backlog of cases and ensuring veterans receive timely responses on their appeals.

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