Bilirakis Provision Included in Veterans Education Assistance Bill
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis (FL-12), Vice Chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs (VA) Committee, joined a legislative hearing on the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Education Assistance Act, H.R. 3218. The bill would improve and extend GI Bill benefits granted to Veterans, and includes a provision introduced by Bilirakis to modernize the VA’s Information Technology systems for processing claims.
Please see below for an excerpt from Bilirakis’ remarks.
“The brave men and women of our U.S. Armed Forces have answered the call to protect the liberties we enjoy on a daily basis. We must answer the call to help our Veterans in return. The challenges our nation’s heroes face do not end on the battlefield, but continue as they make their transition to civilian life.
“We must find viable ways to improve both the effectiveness and delivery of transition resources. In order to give the best opportunities to our Veterans, we must be prepared to address new needs as they are identified.
“I am very pleased my legislation, H.R. 1994, the VETERAN Act, was included in the overall bill we are discussing today. My provision will make necessary investments to the Information Technology systems of the Veterans Benefits Administration.
“First, it requires all original and supplemental claims for educational assistance be done electronically. This will ensure that Veterans are able to receive their benefits in a more timely and efficient manner.
“The provision would authorize $30 million to help the VA carry out the mission of assisting our Veterans in getting an education, and transitioning back to civilian life. The Secretary of Veterans Affairs will be required to submit to Congress a plan to implement proposed changes and improvements within 180 days of its enactment. The plan will ensure that this Committee has the necessary information to perform its oversight duties.
“After a year of implementing the changes, the VA Secretary will also be required to submit a report giving the Committee an update on what is working, and what is not. This will provide the Committee with the information necessary to continue to improve how we serve our nation’s heroes. Overall, this section will modernize GI Bill claims processing and help streamline the system for Veterans to receive their education benefits.”
Click HERE for more information on the hearing.