Introducing legislation will protect student veterans during COVID-19 crisis
University of Akron American Legion Post 808. (Photo by Alex Slitz)

Introducing legislation will protect student veterans during COVID-19 crisis

Many schools and universities have taken proactive measures to mitigate the spread of the spread of COVID-19, leaving veterans with questions surrounding their Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) education benefits. Bipartisan legislation introduced by the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs would minimize the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on students.

“As we respond to the coronavirus pandemic, we cannot forget about our student veterans,” said committee Chairman Mark Takano, D-Calif. “This bill package will make key fixes so veterans can continue their studies without interruption, loss of income, or unexpected bills.”

The American Legion lauded the bipartisan efforts of the committee to protect student veterans during the COVID-19 crisis.

“We have been honored to work with Chairman Takano and Ranking Member Phil Roe as we continue to learn about second and third-order effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on student veterans,” said American Legion National Commander James W. "Bill" Oxford. “The American Legion applauds the leadership of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs in these challenging times and urges prompt passage of the Student Veteran Coronavirus Response Act.”

The bipartisan legislation would protect work-study allowances, vocational rehabilitation and GI Bill housing allowance payments in the event of sudden school closures for student veterans. Critically, the bill ensures that students whose schools close but cannot transition to an online curriculum are able to maintain their eligibility next semester.

“We worked hard to assure student veterans that the support they count on from the GI Bill to cover tuition and housing costs won’t be taken away during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Ranking Member Phil Roe, R-Tenn. “I am proud to introduce this bill with Chairman Takano today to give them further confidence that the benefits they earned will be waiting for them on the other side of this crisis.”

The Student Veteran Coronavirus Response Act of 2020 builds on S. 3503, which authorized VA temporary authority to continue GI Bill payments uninterrupted in the event of national emergencies. This allows for continued payment of benefits even if the program has changed from resident training to online training. The president signed S. 3503 into law on March 21.

For the latest VA updates on coronavirus, visit www.publichealth.va.gov/n-coronavirus/.

Stay informed on message from American Legion National Commander James W. "Bill" Oxford and other news stories regarding the coronavirus at www.legion.org/coronavirus.