WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK-2), praised President Trump’s signing of H.R. 3218, the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017. This legislation includes an Inhofe and Mullin provision that reinstates veterans’ eligibility benefits when pursuing post-secondary career and technical education (CTE) options.

“The G.I. bill has provided access to higher education opportunities for veterans for generations,” Inhofe said. “As our workforce and educational programs advance, we must also modernize and reform the G.I. Bill. By giving veterans access to the full range of educational options—including accredited CTE courses—we can equip our veterans for success as they transition from military to civilian life.”

“This is a momentous day for our veterans and the continuation of their hard earned education benefits,” Mullin said. “With President Trump’s signature on H.R. 3218, not only are we making numerous improvements to the Post-9/11 GI Bill, such as removing the time restriction so future recipients can access their benefit whenever they’d like, but it also includes our language that allows rural veterans to start using their GI Bill benefits in a way that fits into their lifestyle. Veterans that live in rural areas, like the Second District of Oklahoma, can now use their benefit at accredited Career Technical Education (CTE) centers to complete programs that may include online or distance learning components, instead of traveling long distances to further their education. This gives veterans in rural Oklahoma the flexibility to complete their requirements at centers such as Kiamichi Technology Centers in Atoka, Poteau, and Idabel or at Northeast Tech in Pryor. I applaud the President for prioritizing our veterans by signing H.R. 3218 into law and putting the men and women who serve our country first by giving them benefits that are easily accessible.”

Before today, prior law prevented veterans from using education benefits for independent study unless it is for a degree offered by an institution of higher learning, making certain CTEs ineligible. The legislation removed this obstacle, allowing Oklahoma’s veterans access to more than 200 programs to obtain necessary and marketable skills.

The legislation is named in honor of Harry Walter Colmery, an Army Air Service veteran and former national commander of the American Legion who drafted the original G.I. Bill in 1944 to improve the transition for World War II veterans back to civilian life.

Background

•On August 2, the Senate passed H.R. 3218 and sent it to the president for signature.

•On July 24, the House passed H.R. 3218.

•On July 17, the House Committee on Veterans Affairs held a legislative hearing on H.R. 3218.

•On June 15, the Veterans Affairs’ Committee heard S. 1356, the Veterans Education Improvement Act of 2017.

•On June 14, Inhofe and John Cornyn (R-Texas) introduced S. 1356, the Veterans Education Improvement Act of 2017.

•On Jan. 3, Mullin introduced H.R. 43.

•On Dec. 12, 2016, the Senate passed S. 3021.

•On June 28, 2016, Mullin introduced H.R. 5604.

•On June 6, 2016 Inhofe introduced the Veterans Education Improvement Act of 2016, the basis for the legislation introduced today. Later that month, he testified in front of the Senate Veterans Affairs committee in favor of his legislation.

•On April 29, Sens. Inhofe and Lankford and Rep. Markwayne Mullin sent a letter to the Obama administration questioning why CTE benefits were revoked.

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