Begich Supports Webb's New GI Bill, Calls on Stevens to Step Up
by Matt Browner Hamlin, Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 01:53:26 PM EDT
Earlier today the Begich campaign held a press conference where Mark expressed his strong support for Senator Jim Webb's efforts to pass a new G.I. Bill for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Begich is currently a candidate for US Senate from Alaska. Webb and 56 other senators have signed on in support of this legislation, which seeks to provide educational benefits for our veterans in line what veterans of past wars have received.
Joined by students and veterans at the University of Alaska, Anchorage, Begich called on Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) to join him in honoring the service of returning veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan and other areas of conflict since Sept. 11, 2001. Sen. Lisa Murkowski has already signed on to the bill. Begich said:
"When our veterans come home from Iraq, Afghanistan, or other areas, we want them to have the same educational opportunities as those who served before them in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. To support anything less is wrong."
"This is not complicated. Our veterans have sacrificed for America and we owe them this opportunity. I urge Sen. Stevens to join me in providing veterans the full cost of a college education, like he received after World War II, thanks to the G.I. Bill."
Currently, there are an estimated 70,000 veterans in Alaska and a total of 1,600 enrolled at the University of Alaska, Anchorage and the University of Alaska, Fairbanks combined. Two of these young veterans - Charles Bergeron and John Roberson - spoke at today's event about their experiences returning from service and facing insufficient support for their educational needs.
The 21st Century G.I. Bill, introduced in January 2007, is supported across party lines by 57 Senators; including 44 Democrats, 11 Republicans and 2 Independents as well as a majority of the House and most of the nation's leading veterans' organizations. To qualify, in general, veterans must have served between 3 months and 36 months of active duty, beginning on or after Sept.11, 2001. It also includes activated reservists and National Guard members.
The Act provides veterans with money for the full cost of attending a state university for in-state residents (as well as a stipend for living expenses) equal to a total of 36 months, which equals 4 academic years. The benefit is capped at the cost of the most expensive public state college or university in any given state.
You can read the full text of Mark's speech at the Begich Blog.
Cross posted at VetVoice.
Disclosure: I'm the Online Communications Director of Mark Begich's campaign to represent Alaska in the US Senate.