Stories of American Heroes - Brought to you from the "Home of Heroes" - Pueblo, Colorado
Congressman John Salazar represents Colorado's 3d Congressional District, which includes Pueblo, America's Home Of Heroes, and home of this website. A Vietnam Era U.S. Army veteran, John is dedicated to serving the needs of veterans and has taken a keen interest in legislation affecting all veterans, as well as our Medal of Honor recipients.
Colorado Congressman John Salazar
Joins House Dems in backing revised GI Bill
By JOE HANEL
CHIEFTAIN WASHINGTON BUREAU
WASHINGTON - Troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan would get a package of new benefits if the GI Bill for the 21st century introduced Tuesday wins passage.
Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., joined House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark at a Capitol press conference to promote the bill.
Salazar said the new legislation would do more than offer "lip service" to veterans by increasing benefits for people who serve in the military. He joined Pelosi and 13 other House Democrats in offering the measure.
The new GI Bill would:
Pay the full cost of college plus three years of living expenses during school. The current GI Bill pays about two-thirds the cost of college, sponsors said.
Boost health care spending for veterans by $3.2 billion a year and offer better mental health care.
Allow veterans to keep both their disability pay and their full pensions.
Increase survivor benefits for spouses and children.
Protect National Guard and Reserve troops who face a pay cut when they are called up.
Many families of guardsmen "have actually lost their homes because of the cut in pay from serving abroad," Salazar said.
The bill also seeks to increase the size of the military to "adequate" levels, adding perhaps 20,000 to 30,000 new troops. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., made increasing troop levels a key part of his failed presidential bid last year.
"Our military is now overextended, and our troops are having to spend extended stays in Iraq," said Salazar, who served in the Army from 1973 to 1976.
At the press conference, Salazar read the names of some of the troops from Colorado killed in action in Iraq, including Marine Cpl. Randy Rosacker, Sgt. 1st Class Randall Rehn, Capt. Russell Rippetoe and Lance Corporal Thomas Slocum.
"The (new) GI Bill increases survivor benefits for those who have no father and no breadwinner," Salazar said.
The American Legion, which drafted the original GI Bill in 1944, supports the new version. Supporters of the new legislation credited the 1944 measure as one of the most important laws Congress ever passed.
Missouri Rep. Ike Skelton, the senior Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, said the current generation of veterans could rival the World War II generation, which returned home from the war to build the American middle class.
"It's my prediction that if we treat them right through this GI Bill - do more than put a bumper sticker on your SUV - that they, too, will become another ‘Greatest Generation,’ ” Skelton said.
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Congressman John Salazar
Defending Rural Values
Third District of Colorado
For Immediate Release
April 14, 2005
CONGRESSMAN SALAZAR, GENERAL CLARK ANNOUNCE
"GI BILL OF RIGHTS FOR 21st CENTURY"
New GI Bill Would Benefit Multiple Generations of Veterans and Military Retirees
WASHINGTON, DC – As part of his ongoing effort to make sure that our nation keeps its promise to veterans and military retirees, Congressman John T. Salazar (CO-3) was joined today by leading veterans service organizations in announcing the new “GI Bill of Rights for the 21st Century”, a package of benefits that would provide support for all veterans, including those currently serving overseas.
“This is a matter of priorities – providing benefits for those who have served in the military should be at the top of our list,” said Salazar. “The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are creating a new generation of veterans and it is time for a new GI Bill of rights.”
The GI Bill of Rights for the 21st Century will:
· improve veterans’ health care by increasing resources, bolstering mental health care for returning soldiers, and blocking increases in prescription drug co-payments and enrollment fees for veterans;
· expand upon the original GI bill by providing for the full cost for college or job training for those serving four years of active duty;
· repeal the Disabled Veterans Tax and end the Military Families Tax; and
· expand TRICARE, improve educational benefits, and protect the income of National Guardsmen and Reservists
“This bill recognizes that our National Guardsmen and Reservists are carrying an exceptional burden in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Salazar. “The new GI Bill will make sure that our troops have the opportunity to lead successful lives when they return home.”
The new GI Bill of Rights for the 21st Century has been endorsed by a number of veterans’ and military organizations, including the American Legion and the Vietnam Veterans of America. Several of the bills provisions already exist as bipartisan measures initiated by Republicans.
“I look forward to working my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass this legislation,” said Salazar. “The fact that veterans in rural Colorado have to travel five hours to see a doctor tells me that we’re not doing enough for our veterans. We owe it to our men and women in uniform to come together and pass this legislation now.”
Salazar is a veteran, serving in the Army from 1973 – 1975. His father was a World War II veteran and his son Esteban has served two tours of duty in the Colorado National Guard.
GI Bill of Rights for the 21st Century
Makes Health Care Accessible and Affordable for Our Veterans
ê Improves veterans' health care.
ê Improves mental health for returning soldiers.
ê Blocks increases in prescription drug co-payments and enrollment fees for veterans.
Provides the Benefits Our Veterans Have Earned and Deserve
ê Ends the Disabled Veterans' Tax.
ê Reduces waiting times on disability claims and expands outreach to veterans.
Honors the Families of Those Who Made the Ultimate Sacrifice for our Country
ê Ends the Military Families Tax.
ê Increases survivor benefits for families with minor children.
Strengthens Our Support for Our Men and Women in Uniform
ê Provides $1,000 Bonus for those serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
ê Ensures an adequate number of troops and adequate equipment for our troops.
ê Improves military pay for senior enlisted personnel and warrant officers.
Honors Our Debt to Our Servicemen and Women
ê Modernizes and enhances the GI Bill Education and Job Training Programs.
ê Provides additional funds to assist homeless veterans with employment.
ê Protects bonuses and special pay for the permanently injured, and continues combat pay or additional compensation for those recovering from combat injuries.
Improves Health and Education Benefits for Our National Guard/Reservists
ê Expands military health care (TRICARE) for National Guard/Reservists.
ê Protects the income of activated National Guard/Reservists.
ê Ensures recruitment incentives and bonuses for National Guard/Reservists and improve educational benefits.
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