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Foster Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Extend Benefits for Military Families

Nov 9, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Bill Foster (D-IL), Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), and Congressman Mark Takano (D-CA) introduced the bipartisan GI Education Benefits Fairness Act. This legislation would align definitions of an eligible child in the Veterans Administration and Department of Defense for the purposes of the education benefit transfer. Currently, veterans and service members receive education benefits that they can transfer to their children, but a discrepancy in the definitions across agencies has led to the denial of this benefit to students.

Under current law, the Department of Defense’s Title 10 includes wards and foster children in the definition of an eligible child while Title 38 in the Veterans Administration does not. This misalignment has led to a bureaucratic nightmare for some members of the armed services and their families. According to the Department of Defense, this discrepancy has affected an estimated 100 students who were initially approved for these benefits later had them revoked. These students were initially approved for their benefits by the agencies. It was only mid-semester that the error was caught, and students and their families were notified that they would have to pay back tuition money. This legislation would correct this discrepancy and apply to individuals who were approved and later denied benefits.

“I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation to make sure our service members and their families receive the full benefits they are promised. These men and women risk their lives in protection of our country and then open their homes to children,” Foster said. “Education is the cornerstone of a prosperous future that these families create for their children, and they deserve the full benefits to them promised. I thank my colleagues Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers and Congressman Mark Takano for their support of this important legislation.” 

“Our military and veterans have fought for and protected the American Dream so we can enjoy freedom and opportunity for generations to come,” said McMorris Rodgers. “When a parent joins the military, it is not just a job; it’s a family commitment.  As Co-Chair of the Military Family Caucus, I’m proud to support this bill that ensures all military children have access to important education benefits -- including some of our nation’s most vulnerable populations such as foster youth and children under the care of a guardian.”

“The GI Bill is the cornerstone of our commitment to supporting America’s veterans and their families,” Congressman Takano said. “This legislation closes a terrible loophole in our laws that denies certain family members the benefits they deserve, and it sends a message to foster children and wards of military families that our commitment to honoring their family’s service and sacrifice is enduring.”