Inhofe, Mullin Applaud Passage of GI Bill Reforms

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) and Markwayne Mullin (R-OK-2) praised the Senate passage of H.R. 3218, the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017. The bill passed the House last week and now goes to President Trump’s desk for his signature.

The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 is  broad, bipartisan legislation that will improve veterans’ education benefits and enhance the post-9/11 G.I. Bill. This legislation includes an Inhofe/Mullin provision, the Veterans Education Improvement Act of 2017, which reinstates veterans’ eligibility under the Post-9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Improvements Act of 2010 for education benefits when pursuing post-secondary career and technical education (CTE) programs. Current law prevents veterans from using education benefits for independent study unless it is for a degree offered by an institution of higher learning, making certain CTEs ineligible. This provision will remove this obstacle allowing Oklahoma’s veterans access to more than 200 programs to obtain necessary and marketable skills.

Career and technical education programs provide our vets with essential skills, allowing them to enter fields such as welding, mechanics and cosmetology. These are skills our workforce desperately needs,” Inhofe said. “Once President Trump’s signs this reform package into law, our vets will again be able to access these essential programs at centers like the Autry Technology Center in Enid and Tulsa Technology Center. Our vets fought for and deserve education benefits and I am proud that Congress passed this bipartisan bill to strengthen and improve the program.

“When our men and women in uniform dedicate their lives to service, they earn the right to a quality education that fits into their lifestyle when they return home,” said Mullin.  “Included in H.R. 3218 is our language which authorizes veterans to use their GI Bill education benefits to continue their education with independent study programs at Career Technical Education (CTE) centers.  In places like rural Oklahoma, our veterans aren't always able to travel long distances to complete portions of their education and this bill allows veterans to use their GI Bill benefits at CTE centers - like online or distance learning - to complete their education.  Our veterans deserve our gratitude for the dedication and sacrifices they made for our country.  We can start by ensuring that their GI Bill benefits can be applied in a way that works for them.”

“As a current student veteran, I am incredibly proud of the progress that has been made to improve the educational opportunities for service members, veterans, and their loved ones,” said Kate Tillotson, Student Veterans of America Student Veteran of the Year 2017 and President of the University of Tulsa Student Veteran Association. “A lifetime GI Bill for future generations guarantees that we are set up for success after our military service ends. It provides support for not only Oklahoma student veterans and their loved ones but also for the Oklahoma State Accrediting Agency which serves to protect G.I. Bill beneficiaries. This type of bipartisan support by both the Senate and the House of Representatives demonstrates that Congress can work together to solve many of the challenges facing our nation."

Background

  • On June 15, the Veterans Affairs’ Committee heard S. 1356, the Veterans Education Improvement Act of 2017.
  • On June 14, Inhofe and John Cornyn (R-Texas) introduced S. 1356, the Veterans Education Improvement Act of 2017.
  • On Dec. 12, 2016, the Senate passed S. 3021.
  • On June 6, 2016 Inhofe introduced the Veterans Education Improvement Act of 2016, the basis for the legislation introduced today. Later that month, he testified in front of the Senate Veterans Affairs committee in favor of his legislation.
  • On April 29, Sens. Inhofe and Lankford and Rep. Markwayne Mullin sent a letter to the Obama administration questioning why CTE benefits were revoked.