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NAMPA, Idaho-U.S. Senator Jim Risch announced new legislation today that would allow the use of education benefits under the GI bill for non-degree vocational and training programs. The bipartisan legislation is also sponsored by Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and modifies the Post-9/11 GI bill signed into law in 2008.

Prior versions of the 2008 law allowed veterans to use their benefits for non-degree vocation and training programs-something nearly 70 percent of all recipients did. The Risch, Lincoln bill, S. 3171, the Veterans Training Act, simply restores that flexibility.

"Our veterans willingly sacrifice all for our country and we have an obligation to see they can use the benefits they have earned. Many are already doing so at the College of Western Idaho and our other degree schools. This legislation simply expands the options for our veterans to get the valuable training they need to make a living and it does so at no additional cost," said Risch.

Risch pointed out several non-degree schools throughout Idaho which stand to benefit from the legislation, including the Pro-Weld Welding School in Nampa; the Idaho Real Estate School in Boise; Northwest Lineman Academy in Meridian; the School of Hairstyling in Chubbuck; Professional Truck Driving School in Twin Falls and Sage Technical Services Trucking Schools in Coeur d'Alene, Caldwell and Blackfoot.

To qualify for full-tuition benefits under the post-9/11 GI bill individuals must have at least 3 years of active duty military service. Various percentages of benefits are provided for those serving anywhere from 90 days (excluding entry level and skill training) to 3 years of active duty military service. All recipients must have an honorable or other qualifying discharge from service. Those who suffer service-connected disabilities after more than 30 days of service are also eligible for full benefits.

S. 3171 is now being considered by the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee.


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