The “Servicemembers Improved Transition through Reforms for Ensuring Progress Act” was introduced back in January, and now the legislation is making its way to President Trump’s desk.Gus Bilirakis, the vice chairman of the U.S. House Veterans Affairs Committee, introduced the bill to ensure that veterans would not be financially penalized by educational institutions while they’re waiting for their federal education benefits.
Immediately, Bilirakis received support from an array of veterans groups.
One group, the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, backs the bill. Kathleen Moakler, the director for the organization, commented that “TAPS is grateful to Representative Bilirakis for promoting this legislation which would provide students receiving VA payments the same protections as those who receive Title IV funding such as Pell Grants and Federal student loans. Student survivors and veterans should not be financially handicapped because of VA and higher education bureaucracy.”
With the Senate passing the legislation this week as part of the “Veterans Benefits and Transition Act,” introduced by Democrat Senator John Tester, Bilirakis shared his thoughts on why this is an important measure to pass.
He explained that “I filed this common sense bill in response to several student Veterans who were subject to punitive action by their school because it received payment from the VA after a certain deadline. This legislation is very timely given the recent delays by the VA in processing payments. I am continuing to closely monitor that situation, and have been assured that all Veterans will receive the full amount they are due. However, my bill will guarantee, moving forward, that Veterans will not lose access to education or charged with additional fees from the schools. Veterans should never experience financial harm or denial of access to education due to bureaucratic red tape in processing paperwork at the VA or school. The GI Bill is already a wonderful benefit that our veterans have earned and this legislation makes the program better.”