Tuesday, October 26, 2021
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Education Bill to Bolster Support for Native American Veterans

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The House of Representatives has passed a bill to improve benefits for Native American service members at tribal colleges and universities (TCUs).

The Native VetSuccess at Tribal Colleges and University Pilot Program Act or HR 2878 passed on May 19. The proposed legislation has now been forwarded to the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs without any amendments. 

Fox News reported that among the bill’s objectives would be to increase funding for the Veteran Technology Education Course program and work on partnerships with non-profit organizations, states, and tribes to eliminate homelessness among veterans.

HR 2878 would also create a five-year program to improve on-campus assistance and counseling for eligible students as well as better student veteran housing benefits.

“H.R. 2878 helps us keep our promise to Native veterans, a group that has fought for this country in every war since the American Revolution. I am proud to have worked across the aisle to assemble this legislative package to help improve access to economic and educational opportunities for veteran communities,” Representative Ruben Gallego said in a previous statement.

Pay It Forward

Representatives Gallego, Dusty Johnson, Tom O’Halleran, and Tom Cole reintroduced the bill on April 28. 

“Our veterans have done so much for our country, and Native Americans have had the highest level of participation in our military on a per capita basis throughout America’s history… The best thing we can do for our veterans is to make sure they’re highly educated, and help them and their families out,” O’Halleran told Military.com.

“By expanding the already successful VetSuccess on Campus program to TCUs, Native veterans will be able to access on-campus benefits assistance and counseling that other veterans currently benefit from,” said Johnson. 

This bill is among recent efforts to assist Native American veterans. In February, the House also introduced the American Indian and Alaska Native Veterans Mental Health Act, which is awaiting a vote after being referred to the Subcommittee on Health. 

O’Halleran asserted that the government should get out there and proactively engage Native American service members. He said, “We need to continue down the path of treating our veterans in these tribal and rural areas to the same level as we treat people in the rest of America.”

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