Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick

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Fitzpatrick Pushes Back Against ‘Tax on Troops’

Apr 21, 2017
Press Release
Congressman Expresses Concern About Proposal Charging Vets Access to GI Bill Education Benefits

LANGHORNE, PA – Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-08) is expressing concern regarding proposed legislation which would impose an increased enrollment fee of $2,400 for veterans to access Post-9/11 GI Bill education benefits. In a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan, Fitzpatrick said he could not support a measure that includes a “tax on veterans.”

“GI Bill benefits are critical to successfully reintegrating our veterans into civilian life.  Charging service-members for access to these essential benefits further shifts the burden of war onto our veterans, who have already sacrificed so much defending our great nation,” wrote Fitzpatrick in part. “While I support efforts to reform and provide flexibility within the Post 9/11 GI Bill, such as removing the time limit cap on use of the program, or expanding support for veterans in STEM programs, these reforms should not be funded by taking away from today’s service members. Supporting our troops after they come home is a cost we commit to when we send them to war.” 

The measure is opposed by veterans’ groups including the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). It is scheduled to be considered next week by the House Committee on Veterans Affairs.

Fitzpatrick’s full letter is below. A signed .pdf is available HERE.

Dear Speaker Ryan,

The Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008, or GI Bill, signed into law by President George W. Bush included funding to pay 100 percent of a public four-year undergraduate education to a veteran who had served three years on active duty since Sept. 11, 2001. Last week, the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs revealed a draft of legislation that would charge veterans a total of $2,400 in order for them to receive these education benefits.  Numerous veterans groups, including the VFW, have expressed outrage at what they have described as a tax on our veterans.

Unemployment, homelessness, and suicide continue to disproportionately impact the veteran community.  GI Bill benefits are critical to successfully reintegrating our veterans into civilian life.  Charging service-members for access to these essential benefits further shifts the burden of war onto our veterans, who have already sacrificed so much defending our great nation.

Positioning a financial obstacle between veterans and their education benefits risks second and third order effects far beyond the immediate offset to taxpayer costs. While I support efforts to reform and provide flexibility within the Post 9/11 GI Bill, such as removing the time limit cap on use of the program, or expanding support for veterans in STEM programs, these reforms should not be funded by taking away from today’s service members. Supporting our troops after they come home is a cost we commit to when we send them to war. 

As the House Committee on Veterans Affairs considers this legislation, I hope the enrollment fee is rescinded.  If any bill includes such a tax on our veterans, it would not have my support.

Sincerely,

 

Brian Fitzpatrick

Member of Congress