“This bill would provide up to twice as much educational funding for a Tennessee veteran, allow benefits to be transferred to family members and it would help military recruitment and retention.” – Lamar Alexander
Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today voted for a new GI Bill that would expand education benefits for Tennessee veterans, reservists and active-duty servicemen and women.
“The McCain GI Bill is a better fit for Tennessee veterans, reservists and active duty servicemen and women than other legislation under consideration,” Alexander said. “This bill would provide up to twice as much education funding for a Tennessee veteran, allow benefits to be transferred to family members and it would help military recruitment and retention. We cannot let politics prevent progress on this issue, and I will work with members of both parties to see this effort through.”
The Senate voted against the legislation by a vote of 55 to 42.
The McCain GI Bill would address several issues of concern to Tennessee veterans:
Fairness to Tennessee Veterans:
• Ensures Tennessee veterans will receive the same education benefits as veterans in other states, rather than basing the benefits on the average tuition costs in each state.
Supporting Military, Guard, and Reserve Retention and Improving Education Benefits:
• Increases the education benefits provided by the Montgomery GI Bill from $1,100 to $1,500 per month, beginning in October 2008, to cover the average cost of a 4-year public college, including room, board, tuition, and fees. Provides $500 per year for books and supplies.
• Increases benefits to $2,000 per month by 2011 for members who serve on active duty for 12 years or more.
• Increases the education benefit for Guard and Reserve members called to active duty since September 11, 2001, from $880 to $1,200 beginning in October 2008.
• Increases benefits for those members of the Guard and Reserves who serve in the Selected Reserve for 12 years or more and who continue serving in the Selected Reserve to $1,600 per month by 2011.
• Increases the education benefits for other members of the Guard and Reserves from $317 to $634.
Benefits for Family:
• Allows active Military, Guard, and Reserves to transfer education benefits to spouses or children.
• After at least six years of service, a member would be able to transfer up to half (18 months) of his or her education benefits to a spouse, children, or both.
• Allows a servicemember to transfer all of his or her education benefits (36 months) to a spouse, children, or both after serving for 12 years or more. This could provide up to $72,000 toward a dependent’s education.
New Support for Military Academy Graduates and ROTC:
• Allows service academy graduates and Senior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps participants, who currently have no GI Bill benefit, to access benefits, including transferability, if they complete their initial period of obligated service and then continue to serve for 5 additional years on active duty.
The Enhancement of Recruitment, Retention and Readjustment Through Education Act was offered as an amendment by Senator Lindsey Graham. The motion to table the Graham amendment passed by a vote of 55 to 42.
Alexander is chairman of the Senate Republican Conference.