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Large GI Bill Expansion Breezes Through Its First House Hearing Without Opposition
The changes to education benefits for veterans in a new House bill are numerous, including the end of a 15-year deadline for veterans to use their GI Bill after leaving the service, reimbursements for veterans whose schools abruptly close and boosts in aid for Purple Heart recipients, dependents, technical education and members of the National Guard and Reserve.
Altogether, HR 3218 combines 18 different bills and about 30 provisions put forth by Democrats and Republicans.
Though the scope of the legislation is large, nothing in it prompted opposition or controversy Monday night, during a hearing that will be the House’s closest examination of the bill. Sixteen people testified, and all but one of the 24 members on the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs waived their usual five minutes to ask questions.
Rep. Jack Bergman, R-Mich., asked Curtis Coy, a Department of Veterans Affairs undersecretary, the biggest challenges in implementing the legislation.
“I think across the board when you talk to the people who work at the VA, this bill is an exciting bill for lots of reasons,” Coy said. “Probably my biggest concern is [information technology]. Almost all of these sections require some degree of changes in our IT system, and that’s what concerns me the most.”
VA Secretary David Shulkin expressed his support for the GI Bill expansion earlier Monday on Twitter, saying it would "strengthen an important benefit used by many."
The committee is set to vote Wednesday morning on the bill. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said Monday that he wanted to schedule the bill for a vote on the House floor within the next week.
McCarthy, Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., the committee chairman, and Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., the committee’s ranking Democrat, lauded the process as the way Congress should work.
“This committee has shown time and again a bipartisan way on how to govern. It’s an example for all of our committees and a model for our colleagues,” McCarthy said.
The legislation was put together by lawmakers over the last several weeks. Negotiations were reignited by a group of veterans organizations, primarily Student Veterans of America, following a rift between organizations in April about how to pay for the GI Bill expansion. Walz said it was almost a “death knell” for the bill.
The expansion is estimated to increase GI Bill costs by $3 billion in 10 years. To pay for it, the proposal now calls for decreasing living stipends to GI Bill recipients to fall in line with active-duty servicemembers’ basic housing allowance. The change would not apply to people currently using the GI Bill.
“We’ve had a hiccup or two getting where we are tonight,” Roe said. “Wednesday we’re going to mark this up and hopefully get unanimous consent.”
After the House committee introduced the legislation Thursday, Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., leaders of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, announced their intent to follow with their own version. A bill had not been introduced in the Senate as of Monday.
“If student veterans sat down to write a bill, it would look like this,” said Will Hubbard, vice president of Student Veterans of America. “We look forward to similar success in the Senate.”
©2017 the Stars and Stripes. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
Comedian Jon Stewart has joined forces with veterans groups to make sure service members who have been sickened by toxins from burn pits get the medical care they need, according to the Military Officers Association of America.
"Quite frankly, this is not just about burn pits — it's about the way we go to war as a country," Stewart said during his Jan. 17 visit to Washington, D.C. "We always have money to make war. We need to always have money to take care of what happens to people who are selfless enough, patriotic enough, to wage those wars on our behalf."
The Navy plans on naming its fourth Ford-class aircraft carrier after World War II hero Doris 'Dorie' Miller, an African-American sailor recognized for his heroism during the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor — and not everybody is happy about it.
Editor's note: A version of this article first appeared in 2018
Three. That's how many times Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn C. Cashe entered the burning carcass of his Bradley Fighting Vehicle after it struck an improvised explosive device in the Iraqi province of Salahuddin on Oct. 17, 2005. Cashe, a 35-year-old Gulf War vet on his second combat deployment to Iraq since the 2003 invasion, had been in the gun turret when the IED went off below the vehicle, immediately killing the squad's translator and rupturing the fuel cell. By the time the Bradley rolled to a stop, it was fully engulfed in flames. The crackle of incoming gunfire followed. It was a complex ambush.
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Two Iraqi police officers were killed and dozens of protesters were wounded in Baghdad and other cities on Monday in clashes with security forces, medical and security sources said, as anti-government unrest resumed after a lull of several weeks.
How We Found Out explores recent reporting from Task & Purpose, answering questions about how we sourced our stories, what challenges we faced, and offers a behind-the-scenes look at how we cover issues impacting the military and veterans community.
Following a string of news reports on private Facebook group called Marines United, where current and former Marines shared nude photos of their fellow service members, the Corps launched an internal investigation to determine if the incident was indicative of a larger problem facing the military's smallest branch.
In December 2019, Task & Purpose published a feature story written by our editor in chief, Paul Szoldra, which drew from the internal review. In the article, Szoldra detailed the findings of that investigation, which included first-hand accounts from male and female Marines.
Task & Purpose spoke with Szoldra to discuss how he got his hands on the investigation, how he made sense of the more than 100 pages of anecdotes and personal testimony, and asked what, if anything, the Marine Corps may do to correct the problem.
This is the fourth installment in the recurring column How We Found Out.