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Higgins announces House approval of pro-veteran bills


Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) announced the House of Representatives approved two pieces of legislation supporting veterans; one aimed at encouraging veteran hiring and another assisting veterans pursuing degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM).

"We must continuously look at ways to ease the transition from military to civilian life for the men and who selflessly served this nation," said Congressman Higgins. "Both of these bills cut through red tape to help veterans complete their education and find quality work."

Currently, The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) contracts with private businesses for medical equipment, services, and supplies. They can give preference to veteran-owned businesses when securing these contracts. The Boosting Rates of American Veteran Employment Act (BRAVE Act H.R. 2109) will allow the VA to also give preferences based on the company's percentage of veterans working as full-time employees, further promoting the hiring of veterans.  The bill is also supported by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).

The GI Bill provides 36 months of coverage for tuition, housing and other expenses, but the attainment of a STEM degree can often take longer. The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017, established the Edith Nourse Rogers STEM Scholarship Program through the VA to provide an additional nine months of eligibility for GI Bill benefits for veterans pursuing a STEM degree. While intended to serve as a great resource for veterans pursuing higher education, the original legislation set the credit requirement at 128 credit hours, a standard under which few undergraduate programs qualify. The bill approved by the House of Representatives this week, H.R. 2196, reduces the credit hour requirement for the Edith Nourse Rogers STEM Scholarship Program to 120 hours, the typical requirement at most colleges, making this scholarship available to many more veterans.

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