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Congressman Barry Moore introduces bill to increase education access for survivors, dependents of veterans

U.S. Rep. Barry Moore (AL-02) has introduced the Col. John McHugh Tuition Fairness for Survivors Act.

The bipartisan legislation, announced on Wednesday, is cosponsored by Democratic Rep. David Trone (MD-06), and a companion bill was introduced in the Senate by Senators Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Jon Tester (D-MT); Moran serves as ranking member and Tester serves as chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

Meanwhile, Moore serves as ranking member of the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. The freshman congressman is a veteran himself.

“In 2010, U.S. Army Colonel John McHugh made the ultimate sacrifice for this nation when he was killed in action by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan,” stated Moore.

“Like many Americans, he dreamed of building a better life for his family, and we owe it to his family and millions of Americans in their situation to help realize this dream,” Moore explained. “My legislation secures critical in-state tuition benefits for dependents and survivors of eligible veterans, and I am proud to lead this bipartisan effort to get these families the long overdue support they deserve.”

Established in 1968, the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance program now provides $1,224 a month in tax-free benefits to eligible participants to help cover the cost of tuition, fees and living expenses while they are enrolled at an institution of higher education.

This bill would require GI Bill-eligible schools to extend in-state tuition benefits to beneficiaries of that program – bringing the rules for this program in line with the post-9/11 GI Bill. Moore’s office noted that this is a common-sense solution to help our heroes’ families meet their higher education goals.

Kelly McHugh Stewart, surviving daughter of Col. McHugh, said in a statement, “My family and I are honored and humbled that the COL John McHugh Tuition Fairness for Survivors Act is named after my dad.”

“My father believed in the power of education and knowing, in his memory, that Gold Star children will now have access to college educations, regardless of which state the university they wish to attend is located, would have meant the world to him,” she continued. “As a military child, ‘home’ is all over the country, sometimes all over the world. By the time I graduated high school, I’d moved eleven different times. I didn’t call just one state home, rather, I called the U.S. as a whole, the nation my father would die for, my home. Having the chance to attend Kansas State University was a wonderful opportunity for me while we were stationed at Fort Leavenworth, KS. Now, as family resides in the state of Alabama, my younger siblings will benefit from this change for in-state tuition as well. The chance to go to any university in this great country is a huge opportunity for children like my siblings and me, and we’re grateful to Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, Senators Moran and Tester and Representatives Moore and Trone for making it happen.”

Bonnie Carroll, president and founder of Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), made her support clear as well.

“Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors is grateful to Senators Moran and Tester and Representatives Moore and Trone for introducing the Colonel John M. McHugh Tuition Fairness for Survivors Act to bring parity to Chapter 35 recipients eligibility for in state tuition,” Carroll remarked. “Chapter 35 recipients are often forgotten in legislation and this is a huge step forward in ensuring they have equitable benefits. We look forward to seeing it passed into law.”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

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