Washington, DC- Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced the Veterans Education Counseling Act of 2013, which aims to empower veterans seeking an education by making sure they know that they are entitled to basic educational counseling through the VA, and makes it easier for them to apply. All veterans using GI Bill benefits are already entitled to educational counseling through the VA, but many veterans applying for benefits are not aware they are eligible for educational counseling. According to the VA there are 20,393 veterans in PA using the Post-9/11 GI Bill as of FY 2012.
“Transition from military to civilian life can be challenging,” said Senator Casey. “This legislation makes meaningful changes to make it easier for our nation’s heroes to access benefits and resources. This is a critical step in ensuring our veterans achieve academic success that leads to better jobs in the future.”
The Veterans Education Counseling Act asks the VA to make clear the differentiation between Chapter 36 Educational Counseling – which all GI Bill users are entitled to – and the Chapter 31 Vocational Rehabilitation program. It also requires the VA to provide information to veterans letting them know before they apply for the GI Bill that they are entitled to Chapter 36 Educational Counseling as well as how to apply for this counseling. This builds upon Congress’ and the Administration’s recent efforts to provide more complete and transparent information to veterans about their educational benefits, options, and outcomes.
The Veterans Education Counseling Act also allows veterans to apply for Chapter 36 Educational Counseling online, such as through the eBenefits portal, which is gradually becoming a one-stop-shop for veterans as the VA continues to transition to electronic records. Currently, veterans must apply through an antiquated and complicated mail-in system.
Senator Casey’s legislation is endorsed by VFW, the American Legion, Student Veterans of America, the American Council on Education, the National Association of Veteran’s Program Administrators, the National Association for College Admission Counseling, the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities and the National Association of State Approving Agencies.