WASHINGTON, D.C. - Bipartisan legislation sponsored by U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich to modernize and strengthen veterans’ education benefits and enhance the post-9/11 G.I. Bill became law yesterday. The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 further invests in the proven educational success of our veterans and helps propel them toward becoming our nation’s civic, business, and public leaders.
“New Mexico’s men and women in uniform sign up willing to risk everything for our country, and they deserve a modern post 9/11 G.I. Bill for the 21st century economy. I’m very pleased to see it signed into law,” said Udall. “While we can never fully repay our debt to our veterans, this legislation honors the courage and sacrifice of service-members in New Mexico and across the country. With this new law, we will help empower veterans to continue strengthening our nation as they pursue new careers and opportunities here at home.”
“Since it was approved just weeks after D-Day, the original G.I. Bill has made a tremendous impact on our nation’s heroes and their families – and helped build America’s post-war economy. We owe it to this generation of servicemembers to provide those same educational benefits and opportunities that they too have earned,” said Heinrich. “Modernizing the education benefits of the post-9/11 G.I. Bill will open doors for New Mexico’s veterans and their families and put our entire nation on a more prosperous path.”
The legislation, introduced by U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) was named in honor of Harry Walter Colmery, an Army Air Service veteran and former national commander of the American Legion who drafted the original G.I. Bill in 1944 to improve the transition for World War II veterans back to civilian life.
The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 puts an end to the arbitrary 15-year period that a veteran is required to use their G.I. Bill so they can use their benefits at any time in their professional career. The bill also makes much-needed updates for reservists, Purple Heart recipients, veterans, and surviving family members who face school closures while enrolled and surviving family members, and offers additional educational assistance to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs, computer programming and career technical training.
Additionally, the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017:
- Provides G.I. Bill eligibility for reservists mobilized under selected reserve orders for preplanned missions in support of the combatant commands or in response to a major disaster or emergency;
- Provides G.I. Bill eligibility for reservists undergoing medical care;
- Provides full G.I. Bill benefits for Purple Heart recipients regardless of length of service;
- Extends Yellow Ribbon Program benefits to Fry scholarship recipients; and
- Increases G.I. Bill payments by $2,300 per year for veterans with less than 12 months of active service.