WASHINGTON, D.C. -President Bush signed legislation into law Monday that includes funding for troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, an extension of unemployment benefits and a landmark expansion of the GI Bill of Rights.
U.S. Rep Solomon Ortiz, D-Corpus Christi said there are currently more than 34,000 troops from Texas deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan and that more than 215,000 Texans have served in Iraq or Afghanistan since the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
"The new GI Bill is a significant step forward in our effort to honor the men and women who courageously serve our nation," Ortiz said.
He said the expanded GI Bill will restore full, four-year college scholarships to veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to help make them part of an economic recovery.
The legislation will also allow veterans to transfer those benefits to family members.
The Supplemental Appropriations bill also includes provisions that will provide a 13-week extension of unemployment benefits for those workers who are unable to find a job.
The legislation signed into law Monday also includes $161.8 billion that will support the cost of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan through the summer of 2009.
The following are provisions of the )ost 9/11 Veterans' Education Assistance program:
Extends educational benefits to all members of the military who have served on active duty since Sept. 11, 2001, including activated reservists and National Guard. Provides service members returning from Iraq or Afghanistan, including National Guard and Reserve members, up to 36 months of education benefits, including stipends for tuition, program fees, tutoring housing and books. Allows up to 15 years after they leave active duty to use their education benefits. Establishes a new program which the government will match, dollar for dollar, any voluntary additional contributions to veterans from institutions whose tuition is more expensive than the maximum educational assistance provided the legislation. Allows service members to transfer educational benefits to their spouses and dependents.