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Legislative Hearing on Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017

Chairman Roe, Ranking Member Walz, and distinguished members of the committee; On behalf of Charles E. Schmidt, the National Commander of the largest Veteran Service Organization in the United States of America, representing more than 2 million members of The American Legion, the nation’s largest veterans organization, we express our support for draft legislation entitled the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017.
This bill, as currently written, would launch a new era for all who have honorably served in uniform, and for the nation as a whole. It would close current gaps in the existing Post 9/11 GI Bill and guarantee that veterans have access to their hard-earned GI Bill benefits beyond the current 15-year time limit. In essence, it would help today’s GI Bill live up to the world-changing accomplishments of the original penned by Harry W. Colmery, which transformed America after World War II. In that vein, The American Legion urges this new implementation of the GI Bill is amended to be titled the “Colmery GI Bill.”
Through Resolution No. 349, Support Legislation to Improve the Post-9/11 GI Bill, The American Legion stands firmly behind the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017. As The American Legion did when the original GI Bill was passed in 1944, and subsequent versions were introduced, we will fight for this improved version until it is sent to the President’s desk for his signature. The American Legion will continue to work closely with the Committee to ensure that veterans and their families rally across this country for these improvements.
Members of the National Guard or Reserve who are wounded in combat are often given orders under 10 USC 12301(h) for their recovery, treatment, and rehabilitation. Unfortunately, federal law does not recognize such orders as eligible for Post-9/11 GI Bill education assistance, meaning that unlike other members of the military, these members of the National Guard and Reserve lose benefits for being injured in the line of duty. An example is Captain Bryan Lowman of the North Carolina National Guard.
In 2010, Captain Lowman was deployed to Afghanistan in a detachment with the North Carolina National Guard. During the deployment, he became severely ill with typhoid fever, lapsed into a coma and underwent multiple emergency surgeries over the course of a year in Afghanistan, Germany and at Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, MD. After his long recovery, Captain Lowman aimed to pursue a college degree. Based upon his active-duty time on his DD214…

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