Sen. Reed praises bipartisan expansion of GI Bill benefits

Published August 15, 2017
Associated Press

U.S. Sen. Jack Reed says the passage of bipartisan legislation to expand college aid for military veterans is a remarkable example of the good Congress can do when its members work together.

"We have to do much more of that, frankly," Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat, said Tuesday.

Reed discussed the bill's benefits with veterans and education leaders attending a conference in Providence on Tuesday for the National Association of State Approving Agencies. The association advocates for quality education and training programs for veterans.

"It truly is a new day for veterans' education in this nation and a new era for veterans and their families, and we're excited about that," said Joseph Wescott, the association's legislative director.

Congress sent President Donald Trump legislation earlier this month that would remove a 15-year time limit to tap into GI benefits and increases money for thousands in the National Guard and Reserve. The bill also would restore benefits if a college closed in the middle of the semester.

Veterans would get additional payments if they complete science, technology and engineering courses. Lawmakers of both parties have praised the bill as better preparing veterans for a rapidly changing job market.

Reed expects the Republican president to sign it soon. Reed said that providing college aid for veterans "not only gives people a chance, but it makes our country stronger and better."

Tristan Hood, a 28-year-old senior at Brown University who served in the U.S. Air Force, plans to use his GI benefits to go to law school next year. He said he's pleased that the bill removes the 15-year time limit because some veterans aren't ready to go to school soon after leaving the service and need time to figure out what they want to do for their career.

Hood said he can't wait to see the bill signed.

"Watching other veterans step forward and improve themselves, that's the best thing," he said.