By Congressman Michael Turner
The United States of America is blessed to have the greatest military in the history of the world. As citizens, we owe those who put on our nation’s military uniform a tremendous debt of gratitude. It is our responsibility to provide them with more than just recognition for their service: we must also make certain that they have the skills they need to accomplish their next mission once they return to civilian life. That is why I was proud to support recently passed legislation that expanded the Montgomery GI Bill to provide more funding for veterans to receive a college education. In recognition of the additional sacrifices made by military families, a provision was included in the bill that, for the first time ever, allows a soldier to transfer their unused educational benefits to their spouse or to their children.
The Montgomery GI Bill that was signed into law over 60 years ago is widely recognized as one of America’s most successful and important pieces of legislation. In exchange for their military service, veterans were offered access to programs that gave them opportunities for home ownership and to receive a college education. The program dramatically expanded the middle class and gave rise to a generation of doctors, teachers, and professionals who might otherwise never have worked in these fields.
With the huge impact the GI Bill has had on America and the debt that we all owe our nation’s veterans in mind, I was proud to support recent legislation that dramatically expanded the scope and scale of the educational benefits available to our veterans. This bill, once it is signed into law by the President, will modernize and expand the Montgomery GI Bill by nearly $63 billion. The legislation was a significant compromise between both political parties and both Houses of Congress and was vastly superior to similar bills that both the House and Senate had previously voted on.
While it is extremely important to deliver additional educational benefits to our veterans, it is also important to avoid overtaxing Americans during this difficult economic time. Unlike previous versions of the legislation, the House-passed version of the GI Bill expands college education benefits without increasing taxes on Americans. I am proud to have supported this expansion of benefits that gives our veterans the recognition and resources they deserve without adding an additional burden to hardworking American families.
Additionally, this legislation makes the GI Bill available to the families of veterans for the first time ever. The family members of those who serve in the military fill a critical role in providing support for our soldiers and bear a tremendous burden when their loved one is in harm’s way. A transferability benefit allows vets the option of giving their unused educational benefits to their spouse or to their children. When the GI Bill expansion goes into effect, military families will have an opportunity to directly benefit from their relative’s service to our country.
As we approach the Fourth of July, the needs and concerns of our nation’s military and our veterans should be foremost in our minds. During my time in Congress, I have traveled to Iraq three times and Afghanistan twice and have returned each time all the more impressed by the selfless dedication to duty of our troops. Our country is committed to giving our nation’s military veterans a college education in exchange for their service on our behalf. I am proud to have supported legislation that will directly provide this benefit for military families and look forward to further working on their behalf in the future.