Legislation named after Harry W. Colmery, Kansan who authored original G.I. Bill
Jul 20 2017
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) – chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans’ Affairs, and Related Agencies – today joined U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.), chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, in introducing broad, bipartisan legislation that seeks to improve veterans’ education benefits and enhances the post-9/11 G.I. Bill.
“The G.I. Bill, which was drafted by Kansan Harry W. Colmery in 1944, has made a significant difference in the lives of millions of American veterans who have earned this benefit through their service and sacrifice,” said Sen. Moran. “This bipartisan legislation will build upon the post-9/11 G.I. Bill, making certain that our nation’s heroes are able to utilize this benefit for years to come. As they transition from service, our veterans deserve to have the support and opportunities offered by the G.I. Bill so that they can continue their contributions to our country long after completing their service.”
The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 will further invest in the proven educational success of our veterans and help propel them toward becoming our nation’s civic, business and public leaders.
“We have worked closely with our partners in the veterans community and with our colleagues in the U.S. House to ensure this legislation makes the necessary changes to improve the G.I. Bill and helps veterans succeed in their desired career field,” said Sen. Isakson. “I am proud to introduce this important legislation with Senator Tester after the House introduced its companion legislation last week. We urge our Senate colleagues to join us in supporting these improvements to the G.I. Bill to help further our investment in the futures of our veterans.”
“The G.I. Bill has provided generations of veterans with access to higher education after they have bravely served our country,” said Sen. Tester. “It’s been a pleasure working with my colleagues in the House and Senate, as well as veterans and advocates, to craft bipartisan legislation that will break down barriers to and strengthen education benefits for servicemembers, Guardsmen and Reservists. I look forward to working with Senator Isakson and our colleagues on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee to ensure veterans have every shot at success.”
The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 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.
Most significantly, this bill recognizes our country’s need for an agile and adaptable workforce and that American workers need to be lifelong learners. For that purpose, this bill 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.
The legislation is named in honor of Harry Walter Colmery, a Kansan Army Air Service veteran and former national commander of the American Legion who drafted the original G.I. Bill in 1944 to improve the transition for World War II veterans back to civilian life.
The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 is also co-sponsored by U.S. Sens. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Susan Collins, R-Maine, John Cornyn, R-Texas, Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, Steve Daines, R-Mont., Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., Al Franken, D-Minn., Dean Heller, R-Nev., Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Mike Rounds, R-S.D., Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, and Thom Tillis, R-N.C.
Companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by U.S. Reps. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., and Tim Walz, D-Minn., chairman and ranking member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, on July 13.