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Courtney Effort to Preserve GI Bill Transferability Adopted in Final Defense Authorization Bill

December 11, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) today highlighted the inclusion of his amendment to block a Department of Defense (DOD) plan to restrict service members with greater than sixteen years of service from transferring their Post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits to eligible family members as part of the final National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report. Courtney has worked since July 2018 to block this misguided plan.

“I proudly helped pass the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill back during my first term to honor the service and sacrifice of our veterans by providing them and their loved ones with educational opportunities,” said Congressman Courtney. “The Defense Department’s plan to restrict our longest-serving servicemembers from transferring those G.I. Bill benefits falls far short of honoring their sacrifice—it would have wronged those vets who are willing and able to continue their service. Ending this plan once and for all is the right thing to do, and I am grateful for the bipartisan support that has made this possible.”

“IAVA commends Congressman Courtney for having veterans’ backs and rallying his colleagues to stand at the forefront of the fight to defend the GI Bill,” said Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) CEO Jeremy Butler. “In 2008, IAVA fought to create the Post-9/11 GI Bill and it has proven to be one of the most transformative federal benefits in history.  When DoD moved to limit access to the GI Bill, IAVA responded by delivering a petition signed by nearly 55,000 of our members in strong opposition. We are grateful that our voices were heard.”

In July of 2018, the DOD announced a policy change that would prevent service members with greater than sixteen years of service from transferring their Post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits to eligible family members. Following the announcement, Courtney led a bipartisan letter signed by 83 of his colleagues in the House to Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis strongly opposing the announced policy change.  

A number of veterans’ organizations have also called for a reversal of the DOD’s policy, including the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), who submitted a petition to the Pentagon  requesting that the DOD reconsider the policy with the signatures of more than 54,000 supporters, veterans, and IAVA members.

During committee consideration of the FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, Congressman Courtney won bipartisan support for an amendment which would prevent the Secretary of Defense from restricting the ability of servicemembers with more than sixteen years of service to transfer their Post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits to eligible dependents. The FY 2020 NDAA was ultimately passed out of committee by a vote of 33-24.

With the adoption of Courtney’s amendment in the committee’s final version of the bill, Courtney led another letter to DOD in June, signed by 29 members of the House Armed Services Committee, requesting that the department delay the planned July 12, 2019 implementation of the policy until Congress has fully weighed in on this issue in completing its work on the FY2020 NDAA. In response, the DOD informed Courtney that they would delay implementation of the plan until January 12, 2020.