Foster Introduces Bipartisan Legislation To Support Military Families and Foster Children, Extend GI Education Benefits
Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Bill Foster (IL-11) and Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) introduced the GI Education Benefits Fairness Act to support military families by extending GI education benefits to wards and foster children.
“Children of the men and women who serve honorably shouldn’t be denied the benefits they were promised because of a bureaucratic oversight,” said Foster. “These servicemen and women have honored the promise they made to serve our country, we need to honor the promises we make to them.”
“We know that when a parent joins the military, it’s not just a job, but a family commitment to our county,” said McMorris Rodgers. “These brave men and women in uniform have protected our nation in hope of a better and brighter future for generations to come. We can all be a part of fulfilling that dream by giving children these important education benefits. As Co-Chair of the bipartisan Congressional Military Family Caucus, I am extremely proud to introduce legislation that will help military children across the country.”
Groups supporting the legislation include the Military Officers Association of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Student Veterans of America, National Military Family Association and the Foster Parent Association of America.
Text of the legislation is available here.
The Post-9/11 GI Bill provides education benefits to veterans and service members who serve on active duty after September 10, 2001. Many of our active duty troops can transfer their GI education benefits to their children. Under current law, the Department of Defense includes wards and foster children in the definition of an eligible child while the Veterans Administration does not. This has led to a bureaucratic nightmare for members of the armed services and their families.
More than 100 wards and foster children were initially approved by DOD for GI education benefits, and money was paid out to their schools. Then, mid-semester, the VA revoked their benefits and the students and their families were notified that they would have to pay back all the money immediately. These students now face unexpected amounts of crippling debt.
The legislation would amend the definition of an “eligible child” for the purposes of transferability of benefits under the Post 9/11 Educational Assistance Program to include the DOD definition of a child – which includes wards and foster children. Doing so would allow foster children and wards who were approved for GI education benefits, then had them revoked, to receive the education funding they were promised.