Panetta Fights for Veterans’ Education

September 15, 2018 by TWN Staff
Soldiers training at Ft. Bragg, N.C., in 2014. Both the House and SEnate unanimously passed the "Forever GI Bill." (Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

California Congressman Works Across the Aisle to Ensure Veterans and Their Families Have Access to Advanced Education

First term Congressman Jimmy Panetta is well known on Capitol Hill for being a principled and pragmatic lawmaker who regularly puts policy over politics. This week, he is back in California’s 20th District on the Central Coast, living up to his reputation by addressing one of our country’s most overlooked issues – veterans’ education.

Panetta, who served eight years in the United States Navy Reserve and was deployed to Afghanistan in 2007 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, launched a twofold effort to support veterans and their families in their pursuit of higher education.

Working alongside Virginia Republican Congressman Scott Taylor, Panetta introduced the GI Bill Transfer Extension Act, legislation that will increase flexibility for service members seeking to transfer their GI Bill education benefits.

““U.S. Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines deserve certainty in their earned benefits and transferability,” said Panetta. “The GI Bill Transfer Extension Act empowers servicemembers and their loved ones to pursue advanced educational opportunities and furthers their professional development.”

This bipartisan bill would change the law governing GI Bill transfers by removing the 16-year time-in-service cap announced in the recent DOD policy change and provides a new 15-year window for eligible veterans to transfer their education benefits after their separation or retirement. Notably, the bill also makes all provisions retroactive to August 1, 2009 when GI Bill transfers were first allowed.

“We recognize the sacrifices made by military families and are committed to their continued success,” said Panetta.

The California Congressman also joined Republican Congressman Don Bacon of Nebraska in introducing the Veterans Resource Center Act, legislation that authorizes the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide federal grants to public universities to establish, maintain, and provide services at Veterans Resource Centers on campuses and incentivize priority registration for veteran and military-connected students.

Panetta is scheduled to hold a press conference on September 17th at California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB) to discuss the legislation alongside University President Eduardo M. Ochoa and many of the university’s veteran students. CSUMB is located on Ford Ord, a former Army post that was closed in 1994 through the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) action. Monterey is still a strong military community and home to the Naval Postgraduate School and Defense Language Institute.

Ochoa lauded Panetta’s efforts saying, “The Veterans Resource Center Act will further increase CSUMB’s, and the entire CSU system’s, ability to support our student veterans and military-connected students to ensure resources are available to help them excel in their academic endeavors.”

“This bill will help our veterans choose classes that fit their personal needs allowing them to graduate on time, while simultaneously providing them social and educational support,” added Panetta.

In addition to serving his nation in uniform, Congressman Panetta served as a board member of the Veterans Transition Center where he focused on ending veterans’ homelessness and improving resources for his fellow veterans and their families. He also pushed for the opening of Monterey County’s first Veterans Treatment Court to ensure veterans receive the services they earned.

 

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