New Bill to Support Post-9/11 Vets

The House of Representatives has passed HR 4057, a new bill designed to help student veterans. HR 4057 will allow post-9/11 student vets to have a comprehensive place online where they can find information about their applications for various colleges, and track any issues that may arise. The bill has instructed the Veterans Administration to launch a website for this purpose and also to offer educational counseling to the student vets.

The bill includes education counseling, extensive information about schools, programs, financing, school enrollment and graduation rates, transfer credit opportunities, and what academic, technical and support services are available. The overall plan to make the Post-9/11 GI Bill easily accessible to all who qualify for it.

The Post-9/11 GI Bill also includes education and housing monetary support for military personnel with 90 or more days of service starting after Sept. 10, 2001, and for individuals who were discharged after 30 days of service with a service-connected disability. Students must have been honorably discharge in order to receive the benefit. The benefit covers as much as three years of expenses if they are education-related and approved, and can be used as late as 15 years after active duty has ended.

Another veterans-based bill sent to the President is the Dignified Burial and other Veterans Benefits Improvement Act of 2012, which allows provisions for burials for veterans who leave behind few or no resources and no family members to oversee their burial. The bill includes instruction for a registry to track the service-related illnesses and symptoms experienced by vets who were exposed to toxic contaminants while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Both bills have been designed to provide support for veterans, from educational opportunities to comprehensive civilian transition programs to services that allow them burial with dignity.

The Dignity bill authorizes the VA to: provide a casket or urn, if needed; follow the wishes of next of kin regarding the funeral or memorial service; claim unclaimed or abandoned veteran remains for proper burial; use $5 million for a military cemetery in the Philippines; and establish an “open burn pit registry” to track vets who were exposed to probable toxic materials from Middle East open burn pits, and track their ongoing health concerns and explore treatment options. Additionally, the bill authorizes the VA to provide transportation of vets to and/or from counseling, vocational and rehabilitation treatment and care.

James G. Fausone is a Veterans disability lawyer and Veterans attorney with Legal Help for Veterans, PLLC. Learn more at http://www.legalhelpforveterans.com.

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