The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

77° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Rep. Giffords and Shelton praise Veteran Services

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and President Robert Shelton commended the student-run Veterans Center at a press conference yesterday and spoke about a new bill Giffords introduced to the House of Representatives last week that would fix oversights to the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

The Post-9/11 GI Bill went into effect in August and provides millions of veterans the opportunity to go back to school, Giffords said at the conference, hosted outside the Veterans Education and Transition Services office in the Student Union Memorial Center.

However, Giffords said there are some problems with the bill she intends to fix through her new legislation.

Her new bill will address three key areas of the previous legislation.

First, those veterans who retired before Aug. 1 of this year or were medically retired for a service disability will be able to transfer their benefits to a family member, said Giffords.

Second, the bill will allow veterans who are pursuing an online education to receive the same housing allowance rates for their home as those veterans who are pursuing an education at a traditional institution, she said.

Third, the bill expands eligibility to combine previously earned education benefits with the benefits provided by the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

For UA student veterans, Giffords’ new bill would provide much-needed financial breathing room in economically-challenging times.

Matt Randle, student director for the VETS Office and a family studies and human development junior, stressed how financially difficult it is for veterans to make the transition from the armed services back to the classroom.

“”Fire fights and insurgents were replaced with mounting bills and bureaucracy,”” Randle said.

While working with fellow veterans, Randle learned about the new GI bill that allowed him to start thinking about returning to school.

“”The new GI bill is wonderful,”” he said. “”However, with any legislative undertaking this large, there are areas of concern that need to be addressed,”” he said.

Randle said Giffords’ new legislative fix could be the answer to his problems with the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

“”Personally, Congresswoman Giffords bill will allow me to combine both my Montgomery GI Bill remaining benefits with the new post-9/11 benefits so that I can complete my education without incurring further debt,”” he said.

Both Giffords and Shelton praised the support being provided to veterans by the VETS Office in the student union.

“”The veterans office is specifically here to be of assistance to the veterans community on the UA campus as veterans return from active duty to further their schooling,”” said Shelton.

Pre-physiology junior Glen Lacroix said the VETS Office helped him to get back in school after he was fired from his job.

“”I was fired from my job on July 23 and I had no income,”” he said. “”I walked into the veterans office on the 24 and was enrolled in classes for this semester that day.””

The VETS Office is entirely staffed by former service members and provides academic advice and a place to relax for 250 veterans.

“”I think the key component of this office is that it is staffed by student veterans who have made the transition to the UA,”” said Shelton. “”They are knowledgeable not only about the campus itself and what we offer but also about what is important to veterans.””

Giffords said the work being done at the VETS Office at the UA is not only a unique service for former service men and women but will help advance her efforts to make changes to the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

“”We want the community to know that the fix started right here at the veterans center at the UA,”” she said.

Veterans at the conference were hopeful that the legislation will give badly needed benefits to former service members.

Randall said, “”This legislation will ensure that those of us who have sacrificed and earned these benefits will be able to use them to push themselves to their fullest potential.””

More to Discover
Activate Search