Ripon Advance

U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) on Sept. 29 proposed a bipartisan bill that would extend GI Bill benefits for U.S. military veterans whose registered apprenticeships were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Veterans contribute so much to our workforce, and registered apprenticeships are critical in securing good-paying jobs,” Rep. Fitzpatrick said. “COVID-19 shut down many job training and apprenticeship programs, and it is not fair for our veterans participating in these programs to lose the benefits they have earned.”

Currently, veterans must meet a minimum number of apprenticeship hours to receive their full Monthly Housing Allowance. However, because many registered apprenticeships ended or were shortened due to the pandemic, veterans in those programs now face a reduction or suspension in their stipend, according to the congressman’s office.

Rep. Fitzpatrick signed on as the lead original cosponsor of the Protecting Apprenticeship Training for Veterans Act, H.R. 8426, with bill sponsor U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA), which would pause GI Bill benefit time limits for those impacted and allow veteran apprentices who were laid off to roll over excess hours from a previous month to meet the hourly requirement, according to a bill summary provided by Rep. Fitzpatrick’s office.

If enacted, the proposal also would provide COVID-19 pandemic relief assistance to veterans who are nontraditional students in Registered Apprenticeship and On-the-Job Training programs, according to the summary.

“Our veterans put their lives on the line for our country, and they deserve all the support we can provide them,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick.

The Union Veterans Council supports H.R. 8426.