Several IAVA priorities crossed the finish line last week, as legislation we have fought long and hard for was signed into law by the President. In addition, following the tragic events in Charlottesville, VA, IAVA condemned the violence and anti-American activity by white supremacists. Here are the policy toplines from last week:
- GI Bill 3.0: The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act otherwise known as the “Forever GI Bill” was signed by the President last Wednesday. This legislation is the largest expansion of veterans education benefits since IAVA fought for the creation of the Post-9/11 GI Bill itself in 2008. Originally, this bill was slated to be paid for by requiring a short-sighted $2,400 tax on new servicemembers. IAVA fought back on this bad proposal, and thanks to the relentless advocacy of our members, we succeeded. We’re proud for having fought for this to be the best #ForeverGIBill that it could be—without paying for it with huge new fees on our military.
- This bill removes the 15-year time limit on using the benefit, awards Purple Heart recipients GI Bill eligibility regardless of active duty time served, ensures National Guard and Reserve Members get the same benefits as those they served on active duty with, and restores the GI Bill entitlement of individuals who were forced to discontinue their studies due to the permanent closure of their school, among other improvements.
- GWOT Memorial: Last Friday the President signed the IAVA-backed Global War on Terrorism War Memorial Act that passed both the House and Senate recently. The bill is the first step in creating a memorial in Washington, D.C. for all Americans to honor and remember those who have served and sacrificed in the War on Terrorism. This has been an issue in our Policy Agenda for years, and we’re excited that it is now law.
- VA Choice Program Extension: With funding for the VA Choice program due to expire within a matter of days, the President signed legislation (S. 114) on Saturday, August 12 to provide $2.1 billion to continue the program through February 2018 while Congress develops a permanent integrated network of public and private healthcare led by VA primary care providers managing veterans’ care. S. 114 will also invest $1.9 billion into critically-needed resources in the VA health care system as part of a bipartisan compromise that leaders of the House and Senate Veterans’ committees reached following the defeat by IAVA and other leading veterans organizations of an earlier, problematic VA Choice extension bill.
Last, but certainly not least, here are Tweets from all four Joint Chiefs of Staff condemning the events at Charlottesville, VA. We’re thankful that our military leaders, who are Post-9/11 veterans themselves, have taken a stance in condemning these hateful acts.