A bill cosponsored by Alabama Sen. Doug Jones would seek to extend GI Bill education benefits to foster children and legal wards, clearing up an inconsistency in the law when it comes to a veteran’s non-biological children.
Jones cosponsored the new legislation, called the GI Education Benefits Fairness Act, to support military families by extending Post-9/11 GI Bill education benefits.
It was recently introduced by Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, and has bipartisan support in the House of Representatives.
“I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing this legislation that will help all military children access the educational benefits their families have earned,” said Jones, who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee. “These brave men and women have sacrificed for our country and we owe them the full benefits they were promised.”
The Post-9/11 GI Bill provides education benefits to veterans and service members who served after Sept. 10, 2001.
The law allows active-duty troops to extend their unused GI education benefits to their spouses or their children but under current law, inconsistencies in law and departmental regulations have led to bureaucratic hiccups for service members trying to get the benefits for non-biological children.
The Department of Defense includes wards and foster children in its definition of an eligible child, but the Department of Veterans Affairs does not.
Jones legislation would amend the definition of an “eligible child” to match the DOD definition of a child, thereby including wards and foster children.
Doing so would allow foster children and wards to receive the education funding they were promised, including providing retroactive pay for those foster children and wards who were previously approved for GI education benefits only to have them revoked.
The Student Veterans of America, the National Military Family Association and Paralyzed Veterans of America support the legislation.