A bill would charge veterans $100 per month to access GI Bill education benefits.
The House Veterans Affairs Committee considered a bill in April 2017 that would have required new military enrollees to pay $100 per month to access GI benefits. But the proposal has since been abandoned.
Reports that U.S Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN), the chairman of the committee, wanted to charge veterans $100 per month for GI Bill benefits first surfaced in April. A provision of a bill introduced by Roe at the time would have required new enlistees to pay $100 per month for two years, totalling $2,400, to access Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits.
At least one veterans group, Veterans of Foreign Wars, strongly opposed to the proposal. They called the buy-in a “tax on troops.” Another veterans group, Student Veterans of America, defended the bill. Although the bill would charge veterans for GI benefits, it would also expand benefits eligibility periods and availability to spouses and dependents of veterans. The $330 million of revenue generated by the buy-in each year would be used to help extend benefits, Will Hubbard, the vice president of government affairs for Student Veterans of America, told Stars and Stripes:
“What we are seeking and continue to push for is a consolidated, streamlined GI Bill program – a lifetime GI Bill,” Hubbard said. “In doing so, we were able to identify a long list of features that the larger veteran population has been fighting for, for a long time. This is the way to do that. It’s arguably the most significant proposal on education legislation in the last 10 years or so.”
The Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity was scheduled to hold a hearing on the bill in April. But the hearing never took place. It was canceled, and U.S. Rep. Tim Waltz (D-MN), the chair of the subcommittee, told Military.com that imposing the buy-in for new recruits at a time of conflict “sends the wrong signal.” The subcommittee didn’t take up the provision again, and a bill was later passed without it.
By December 2017, rumors about a House bill to charge veterans for GI bill benefits were still circulating. Among the most visible was a meme featuring Phil Roe on social media. It states, “This scumbag wants to charge veterans $100 a month for access to GI Bill benefits.”
Links to petitions opposing the buy-in for new enlistees were also in circulation. However, Roe’s committee never revived the proposal after it was abandoned in April. And since that time, a bill expanding Post 9/11 Bill GI Benefits has been signed into law.
The new bill, H.R. 3218, does not charge veterans for GI Bill benefits. It does, however, lift time restrictions on when benefits can be used — ensuring “lifetime benefits” as opposed to the earlier 15-year timeline. It consolidates the GI Bill into a single program to save administrative costs. And it provides “significant increases” in GI Bill funding for reservists, guardsmen, dependents, surviving spouses and surviving dependents. Finally, the bill also ensures “100% eligibility” to Post 9/11 Purple Heart recipients.
So, while claims about a bill to charge veterans for GI Bill benefits were true in April 2017 — those claims are now outdated.
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