WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) joined a bipartisan group of his colleagues on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee yesterday to announce the introduction of the Veterans First Act.
The Veterans First Act will give the VA the tools to fire bad actors, prohibit bonuses for employees accused of wrongdoing, and will institute protections for whistleblowers. It also includes numerous provisions to improve services for our nation's veterans, including expanding a VA program that allows seriously-injured veterans to receive care in their own homes, enhancing programs for veterans' mental health care, and beginning to address the VA's massive backlog of veteran disability claims appeals.
The comprehensive legislation also includes three provisions Senator Tillis previously introduced as stand-alone bipartisan bills that would expand educational opportunities for veterans and their family members:
- The Career-Ready Student Veterans Act, introduced by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Tillis, will provide stronger consumer protection measures for veterans by prohibiting schools lacking appropriate programmatic accreditation from receiving GI Bill benefits. Veterans will be protected from wasting education benefits on educational programs that do not equip them for employment.
- The Fry Scholarship Enhancement Act, introduced by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Tillis, will authorize Yellow Ribbon program eligibility for dependents receiving Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits under the Fry Scholarship.
- The Veterans Education Relief and Reinstatement Act, introduced by Senators Blumenthal and Tillis, will provide relief for veterans’ whose education benefits through the Post-9/11 GI Bill are affected by the permanent closure of certain educational institutions. It will expand the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) authority to restore the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits of veterans who are affected by the permanent closure of educational institutions. Currently, the VA cannot fully restore a veterans’ benefits if a school they attend permanently closes.