Congress agrees on new GI Bill - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Congress agrees on new GI Bill

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On Capitol Hill, it's a busy time for the nation's lawmakers.

While the U.S. Senate has returned from a short recess this week to more battling over a potential health care replacement, the House is making moves on a ground-breaking bill for veterans.

Congressional Republicans and Democrats have come together on a bill that would give a huge expansion to college aid for veterans.

Under the current GI Bill, veterans have 15 years to go back to school, but today, lawmakers agreed to remove that cap which will add flexibility to enroll in college later in life.

We caught up with veterans during the weekly cookout in Waterloo, and they say they're happy about the proposed changes.

"It's really going to improve the quality of their life," Black Hawk County Veterans Affairs Executive Director, Kevin Dill, said.

Dill said he was excited lawmakers were moving forward with a new GI Bill, and he added it will also improve money for thousands of National Guard and Reserve members.

"But, with the expansion now our post-9/11 vets who may have been laid off or fired, and they need to get some education, as long as the bill stays intact with the same benefits, and they're just extending the 15 years, it's a huge benefit for those veterans," Dill said.

Education benefits for veterans would take effect next year, so veterans who thought their GI Bill ran out, would get the chance to head back to school, and Kevin Dill says this benefits everyone and not just veterans.

"It'll help their family and their children. It'll help a lot veterans with P.T.S.D. who are kind of down on themselves right now, because they don't have a job, and they want to go back to school, and they can't afford it. That really lifts their spirits," Dill said.

Dill said since most veterans start working instead of going to school after they're discharged, and the new proposed GI Bill allows for an easier transition with less pressure.

"It takes them anywhere from 2 to 11 years to adapt back to civilian life. So, coming home after being deployed and trying to go to college, it's just really difficult," Dill said.

Kevin Dill said that in the last month, he's talked to at least five veterans who wanted to go back to school, but they couldn't because their GI Bill ran out.

If all goes to plan, the new bill will help hundreds of thousands of veterans either start or return to school.

The new GI Bill is expected to cost more than $100 billion over the next 10 years.

Right now, Congress is trying to address a nearly $1 billion shortfall in the Department of Veterans Affairs.

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