Improvements to new GI Bill proposed - Tucson News Now

Improvements to new GI Bill proposed

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By J.D. Wallace - email

TUCSON (KOLD) - The honor of serving his country drew Matt Randle to enlist in the Army.

“Always wanted to be one of those guys in uniform,” the former medic said.

But his mother gave him one condition.

“I’ve worked at the university for 27 years and I know how important it is to get an education,” his mother, Gayle Burge, said as he showed the student vets’ office at the University of Arizona to Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

“We recruit kids by saying to go to war then go to college,” Randle said.

After Randle served in Iraq, he enrolled in college. But the cost held him back.

“The original benefit was 36 months,” he said. “College is four years, not three years.”

“This bill’s going to cost money. We know that,” said Congresswoman Giffords. “But with the August 1st start, we are now starting to nationally get stories of people who are falling outside the system.”

New legislation could seal the cracks in the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

“This is the 21st century,” Giffords told a crowd at a press conference in front of the Vets’ Office Thursday.

She said that her new bill would allow veterans who use distance learning to still receive a housing allowance, veterans who retired before the new GI Bill took effect to transfer their benefits to family, and veterans to combine previously earned benefits with what they’ve earned under this GI Bill.

“This isn’t just about investing in veterans. It’s not just about investing in the war fighters. It’s about investing in America,” Giffords said.

“I’m going to finish college regardless,” Randle said. But he could still use a hand to make the most of his opportunity.

“You have to put stock in doing the best that you can with the gift that you are given to be alive today. Lots of guys and gals weren’t so fortunate,” he said.

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