Maui News

Schatz Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Protect Education Benefits For Veterans

May 17, 2021, 8:49 AM HST
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PC: file courtesy office of US Sen. Brian Schatz.

US Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) who serves as a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, joined colleges in introducing the Student Veterans Transparency and Protection Act.

The bipartisan legislation introduced in partnership with US Senators Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Chris Coons (D-Del.), is aimed at improving veterans’ access to information about higher education. It would also allow the Department of Veterans Affairs to restore benefits that veterans use at schools subject to civil enforcement.

“The G.I. Bill benefit has helped open the doors to higher education for many veterans who otherwise would not be able to access it. But bad actors in the education community have taken advantage of those who have served, robbing them of the full value of their education benefits,” said Senator Schatz. “Our bill will ensure that veterans who have been deceived are able to recoup their benefits. It will also help veterans learn more about different schools and their benefits so that they have the information they need to find the right program.”

Along with providing VA the ability to reinstate benefits used at schools subject to civil enforcement, the bill requires VA to provide veterans up-to-date student outcome and financial information for all eligible institutions through its G.I. Bill Comparison Tool and it requires all VA education counselors to be trained in using this tool to help beneficiaries so that veterans can make the best choices about where to use their education benefits.

“Our veterans, service members and their families deserve full access to the educational benefits they’ve been promised,” said Senator Rounds. “Our bill will improve the GI Bill Comparison Tool to better inform eligible individuals in South Dakota and nationwide about their educational benefits and opportunities. Through timely data publication, this tool will help veterans and service members steer clear of predatory institutions and select the best programs available.”

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“Veterans and servicemembers in Ohio, and across the country, deserve to use the educational benefits they’ve worked so hard to secure – not have them taken by bad actors,” said Senator Portman. “This bipartisan legislation would give the beneficiaries of these important educational assistance benefits the tools they need to obtain timely and accurate information about higher learning institutions, including those with poor outcomes.”

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“It is incumbent upon Congress to ensure that service members and veterans get access to the full benefits they have earned and are empowered to use those benefits to receive a quality education,” said Senator Coons. “I’m proud to join a bipartisan group of my colleagues in introducing the Student Veterans Transparency and Protection Act, which will help veterans learn more about higher education opportunities and find the right program.”

The bill is supported by Veterans Educational Success, Student Veterans of America, the American Legion, Blind Veterans of America, the Wounded Warrior Project, Disabled Veterans of America, the Military Officers Association of America, the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, the National Association for College Admission Counseling, Gold Star Wives of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, AMVETS, Higher Learning Advocates and the Institute for College Access & Success.

“Veterans Educational Success supports legislation drafted by Senator Schatz that would require the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to report outcome data for GI Bill beneficiaries… [the] bill will provide GI Bill beneficiaries and policymakers with information that is key to the informed use of the benefits and the oversight of the Post-9/11 GI Bill,” said Walter Ochinko, Research Director for Veterans Educational Success.

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“This legislation fills critical information gaps in the current GI Bill Comparison Tool…these commonsense reforms will improve the overall student veteran experience by giving students more information to make better decisions and vital relief if they are negatively impacted by bad-actor schools,” said Jared Lyon, MPA, National President and CEO of Student Veterans of America.

“Our servicemembers know the GI Bill is one of the most important benefits they earn through their service. Unfortunately, too many have learned over the years that their benefit has historically been targeted for abuse. We are aligned with your efforts to defend this life-improving benefit for those who have served, and their families,” said Lt. Gen Dana T. Atkins, USAF (Ret.), President and CEO of Military Officers Association of America.

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