Joe Sestak spoke at the VFW PA State Conference and announce new legislation designed to improve the implementation and oversight of the GI Bills today
Joe Sestak Works to Improve Vets Access to Education Benefits
Friday, January 22, 2010
Legislation Ensures Efficient Implementation of GI Bill
MEDIA, PA - Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Congressman Joe Sestak announced the "GI Bill Enhancement Act of 2010." This legislation is designed to improve the implementation and oversight of the GI Bills -- including the groundbreaking Post-9/11 GI Bill -- by increasing Department of Veterans Affairs funding for State Approving Agencies (SAAs) by $5 million annually, and including an adjustable cost of living scale. In the initial implementation of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, thousands of young Veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have faced delays in processing their education benefits
"As our heroes continue to return from Iraq and Afghanistan, we must ensure that they are given the tools to transition from military to civilian life," said Joe. "The GI Bill plays an essential role in this process, allowing our brave men and women to pursue higher education and vocational programs."
After the enactment of the original GI Bill in 1944, Congress requested assistance from the states in administering the GI Bill educational and training programs. This led to the creation of SAA's, which act as the 'face of the GI Bill' at the state level. Joe's proposals have the full support of by the National Association of State Approving Agencies. The bill allows the agencies to better:
•Assist the Department of Veterans Affairs with oversight in preventing waste, fraud, and abuse;
•Approve and supervise programs of education and training; and
•Assist Veterans in making a successful transition from the military to the civilian world.
"The passage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which I voted for, has given a whole new generation of American heroes the opportunity for economic prosperity. However, it has also dramatically increased the work requirements for the Approving Agencies," said Joe. "Because of the bill's complexity, the SAAs are under strain to provide a much greater amount of outreach to schools and beneficiaries. In contrast to the Department of Veteran Affairs, which was able to hire over 500 new personnel in recognition of the additional work burdens imposed by the Post-9/11 GI Bill, federal funding for the SAAs has remained stagnant over the past four years.
"My bill remedies this shortfall, and will allow hiring of additional staff to ensure that Veterans receive their well-earned educational benefits in an orderly and timely fashion"