A plan set to be considered by the House Veterans Affairs Committee next week would require service members to pay into the GI Bill to receive future benefits, according to multiple reports this week. The proposal has split veterans' organizations who advocate with members of Congress.
The proposal is part of draft legislation in the works from the office of committee chairman Phil Roe, a Tennessee Republican, and would deduct $100 from new enlistees' pay each month for two years to receive education benefits. Tiffany Haverly, a spokeswoman for Roe, said committee staff have worked with veterans' service organizations for several months to address long-sought improvements to those education benefits. The committee will discuss several of those proposals at a hearing next week, she said. Others will include giving veterans more flexibility to use GI Bill benefits at the institution of their choice and increasing educational benefits for survivors and dependents.
"The chairman is dedicated to debating these proposed reforms through an open, transparent and inclusive process," Haverly said. "The feedback received from witnesses and the will of committee members will decide whether all, some or none of the proposals under consideration advance through the committee."
The Veterans of Foreign Wars said the buy-in proposal amounts to a tax on service members for benefits they are already due.
"Ensuring veterans are able to successfully transition back to civilian life after military service is a cost of war and not a fee that Congress can just pass along to our troops," said VFW National Commander Brian Duffy in a statement.
But Student Veterans of America, which represents 500,000 student veterans, said Congress already requires service members to buy into GI Bill benefits and that the proposal could help ensure that those benefits would be available later.
"Don't be fooled by the rhetoric of a few; we've heard this before, where other groups try to create a false sense of outrage," said Will Hubbard, vice president of government affairs at SVA. "We seek and continue to push for a consolidated, streamlined GI Bill that will persevere beyond individual generations."
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