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Congressional leaders are considering three important bills that could have a large impact on , according to Leo Shane’s article on the military blog Stars and Stripes.
One important measure would require colleges and universities that are eligible for the application of GI Bill benefits to allow veteran students in-state tuition. Throughout the past few years, various schools have drawn criticism for giving veterans out-of-state status despite their long-term residencies in their home state.
In the highly publicized case of Hayleigh Perez, a North Carolina resident and veteran who had spent time in Texas for military purposes, Pembroke University ruled that although Perez owned a home and paid her taxes in the state of North Carolina, the time she spent working and living in Texas disqualified her from in-state tuition rates (which GI Bill benefits do not cover). The new measure would require that all universities grant veteran students in-state tuition rates.
“The men and women who served this nation did not just defend the citizens of their home states, but the citizens of all 50 states,” Republican chairman Jeff Miller said in a statement. “As such, the educational benefits they receive from the taxpayers should reflect that.”
Another measure currently being considered by Congress is the Stolen Valor Act. Introduced by Rep. Joe Heck, the measure would require harsher punishment for any servicemember who seeks out military honors and awards “with intent to obtain money, property or other tangible benefit.”
According to the source, Congress struck down the measure last year, claiming that the bill was in violation of the First Amendment, mainly due to its broad nature. The bill has since been rewritten to be more specific, and many veterans advocates believe it is likely to pass. The bill already passed in the House by a vote of 410-3 last September, but it has been set aside in recent months as Congress worked to address the nation’s fiscal issues.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has pushed the third bill, the Veterans Back to Work Act, in the Senate. This bill would extend many of the requirements of the Hire Heroes Act, and would also establish many online programs that vets could utilize in their job search. The bill would also have an impact on employers, as it would allow federal officials to suspend contracts with companies that do not comply with veteran hiring standards.