The GI Bill is among the best known government programs of all time. Now it might be getting a tweak. U.S. Reps. Ted Yoho (R-Gainesville) and Brad Schneider (D-Illinois) have teamed to introduce the GI Internship Program Act, which adds an internship option for post-9/11 veterans who wish to take advantage of the popular GI Bill in a slightly different way. “It’s just a common sense approach,” Yoho said during an interview. “It just gives them (eligible veterans) greater flexibility.” The benefit can be used at colleges, universities, trade schools, as well as for on-the-job training, apprenticeships and flight schools. Benefits can be used to help cover tuition, fees, housing and books. Tutorial assistance, licensing and certification tests also are covered expenses.
This new bill would give veterans an additional option: to receive their benefit as a stipend that helps them complete a career transition internship with a qualifying business. And not just any business, either. To maximize the overall benefit, the sponsors said “special consideration” will be given to “sectors most affected by the economy’s growing skills gap, such as manufacturing and small business,” according to a news release announcing the bill. “Matching veterans with businesses is a win-win that helps bridge the skills gap and expand employment opportunities for those who served,” Schneider said in the release. The bill sponsors said this additional option would be in keeping with the spirit of the GI Bill, which has been providing educational opportunities to returning veterans since 1944. “We should do all we can in Congress to help those who have helped defend our nation,” Yoho said in that statement. His congressional district includes part of Marion County.
During the interview, Yoho said he hopes the bill will clear the House of Representatives before September. He expects smooth sailing there and in the Senate. According to the news release “Participating businesses must impart valuable training and experience, and verify a reasonable expectation of hiring the participating veterans upon completion of their internships,” the release said. H.R.758 was introduced on 31 JAN 2017 and had 7 cosponors as of 8 MAY. Under the bill:
- The VA will pay individuals who are full-time participants in such an internship the amount of educational assistance they are due.
- Each internship shall last for at least 180 days but for no more than one year.
- Each intern would be considered to be an employee of the VA for purposes of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
- Each intern and employer would provide the VA with a monthly certification that the intern worked at least 35 hours each week performing functions that provided the individual with valuable experience.