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Vern Buchanan: Biden, VA Need to Implement Veterans Eligible to Transfer School Credits Act

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan’s, R-Fla., called on President Joe Biden to implement his proposal “to help student veterans by ensuring they are able to quickly and easily transfer their course credits to another institution should their school close or program end suddenly.”

Back in February 2022, Buchanan brought out the “Veterans Eligible to Transfer School (VETS) Credit Act” which “would require the VA to work with students and explain the school credit transfer process and to provide them with a certificate of eligibility from the VA providing proof of their restored benefits.”

At that time, the congressman’s office offered some of the reasons why he introduced the bill.

“While current law requires the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to restore G.I. Bill benefits (up to 12 credits) to eligible student veterans whose schools close or program ends in the middle of a semester, the process can be very confusing and oftentimes leaves veterans unable to easily transfer their earned credits to a new school,” Buchanan’s office noted.

The House overwhelmingly passed the bill back in May on a 412-1 vote. Then U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., was the lone opponent of Buchanan’s proposal.

The U.S. Senate passed the bill in December without opposition and Biden signed it into law.

Two months after the law was signed, Buchanan called on Biden and U.S. Veterans Affairs Sec. Denis McDonough and called on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to “update its guidance for G.I. Bill Restoration, which is currently out of date and no longer in compliance with federal law.”

Buchanan’s office offered some of the reasons for the letter.

“Currently, the VA’s website and relevant forms to restore G.I. Bill credits after a school closure or program elimination is out-of-date and does not reflect the flexibility Buchanan’s bill guaranteed. This is particularly timely, given that Living Arts College in Raleigh, NC suddenly closed its doors and is not planning on resuming classes. Due to the VA’s delay in updating their G.I. Bill Restoration guidance, veterans at Living Arts College do not have the most accurate information they deserve as required by law to easily transfer their earned credits to a new school,” Buchanan’s office noted.

“I am writing to urge you to ensure that the Department of Veterans Affairs update its guidance to help prevent student veterans from losing access to valuable G.I. Bill credits,” Buchanan wrote. “As you may know, last year, my bill, the Veterans Eligible to Transfer School (VETS) Credit Act, was signed into law. This new law will assist student veterans affected by the cancellation of their educational program or the closure of their school by providing information instructing them how to reclaim G.I. Bill benefits and transfer them to a new institution.

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“While current law requires the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to restore G.I. Bill benefits (up to 12 credits) to eligible student veterans whose schools close or program ends in the middle of a semester, the process can be very confusing and oftentimes leaves veterans unable to easily transfer their earned credits to a new school,” Buchanan added. “Unfortunately, as of today, the VA website for G.I. Bill Restoration, and the related application, are out of date and no longer in compliance with federal law. This is particularly important and timely because the Living Arts College in Raleigh, North Carolina, has recently closed and will not resume classes.

“The VA’s delay in updating its website and relevant forms is unacceptable and could adversely impact our nation’s student veterans and their ability to take advantage of valuable G.I. Bill benefits. We have made a promise to these veterans, and it is our duty to stand by that promise and not allow a school closure to further cause disruptions in their lives and endanger their education,” Buchanan wrote. “It is past time for the VA to update both the relevant website about restoration of benefits after school closure and the application to comply with current federal law. If the VA requires additional time to update this website and application, at the very least, the website should be updated to indicate that additional guidance will be forthcoming and the student veterans affected by the Living Arts College closure, and any other school closures that occur while the VA is out of compliance with federal law, should be prioritized for assistance once VA is fully in compliance with the law.

“Our brave men and women put it all on the line to defend our country and our way of life. The very least we can do is ensure they are able to receive the full range of benefits they have earned and deserve by virtue of their service,” Buchanan wrote in conclusion. “I appreciate your prompt attention to this important matter and look forward to your response.”

Author

  • Originally from Jacksonville, Kevin Derby is a contributing writer for Florida Daily and covers politics across Florida.

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