At a time when it doesn’t seem like there’s much cooperation across the partisan divide, my bipartisan legislation to expand education opportunities for post-9/11 veterans and their families passed out of the House and Senate last week.
Now on President Trump’s desk and soon to be signed into law, this package to help our veterans is a major bipartisan accomplishment and proof of what Republicans and Democrats can achieve when we work together.
Too often restrictive rules and time limits prevent our servicemembers and their families from using the benefits they’ve earned serving our nation.
Right now, there’s an arbitrary 15-year cut-off to use GI bill benefits. But the sacrifices these men and women make don’t expire, and neither should the education opportunities they’ve earned. A veteran returning home may need to go to work immediately to support a growing family, or have a baby who may not be old enough to go to college by the time the 15 years expires.
It’s pretty simple: if you serve our country and earn these benefits, you should be able to use them whenever makes sense for you and your family. This legislation will allow our veterans to do that by getting rid of the 15-year time limit.
We also included important steps toward securing priority course enrollment for all veterans, by requiring the GI Bill comparison tool to let veterans know which schools offer priority enrollment. This is a practice Ohio already uses to help ensure servicemembers and their families can get into the classes they need to complete their degrees in time.
This package also includes my provision to expand the VA’s Yellow Ribbon Program, which helps students avoid out-of-pocket tuition and fees for education programs that cost more than the GI Bill’s allowance. The provision will make spouses and children of servicemembers who died in the line of duty eligible for the program, which is the least we can do for the families of our heroes who have given the ultimate sacrifice.
Finally, this bill includes a provision I wrote to restore GI benefits for veterans who attended the failed for-profit schools ITT Tech and Corinthian Colleges, both of which closed suddenly and left many veterans with meaningless credits, no degree, and little to no GI bill eligibility left.
Politics has no place when it comes to getting our servicemembers the benefits they earned. I am proud to serve on the Senate Veterans Committee, which has always had a strong history of bipartisan cooperation, and I will continue working across the aisle to solve the issues and challenges facing our veterans.
Sherrod Brown is a Democratic U.S. Senator from Ohio.