Standing with Ohio Veterans and Military Families

Few duties are more important than honoring Ohio’s veterans.

Just as we invest in and train our men and women during their military service, we must do so when they return to their communities, hang up their uniforms, and embark on the next phase of their lives.

In 2008, I was proud to help pass the largest expansion of veterans’ benefits since the GI bill. The Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act now covers up to four academic years of educational tuition benefits for veterans – with enough funding for veterans to attend the most expensive in-state public tuition. The GI bill’s education benefits are critical to investing in returning servicemembers.

But veterans have a limited amount of time before their GI benefits expire. At crowded colleges, general education requirements and prerequisites often fill up quickly, and it can take several semesters to secure a spot.

Waiting for a spot in a required course is a luxury many veterans don’t have.

That’s why, last week, I was proud to introduce the bipartisan Veterans Priority Enrollment Act of 2015, which would allow veterans using their GI benefits to attain priority enrollment at four-year institutions – something Ohio’s public universities already do. The rest of the nation should follow Ohio’s lead. This bill will ensure veterans can complete their coursework before their GI benefits run out.

Last week, the Senate also unanimously passed my legislation, the Gold Star Fathers Act of 2015. This bill will expand federal hiring preferences so fathers of service members who have been killed or disabled in action can receive federal hiring preference – something we already provide to mothers, widows, and widowers of deceased service members.

In November 2006, Canton resident and Gold Star father Scott Warner lost his son, Heath, in action in Iraq during Heath’s deployment as a U.S. Marine. Mr. Warner came to my office and shared his experiences as a father of a fallen soldier. After hearing his story, I knew we had to change the law to provide fathers of deceased or permanently disabled service members with the same hiring preferences that we already provide to mothers, widows, and widowers.

When a service member is killed in action or permanently and totally disabled, the government should do its part to be there for grieving parents — no matter if they’re fathers or mothers.

These bills are just two of the many ways we can help those who have served our nation.

I hope all veterans will come to my office if you need assistance. We can help you navigate the VA bureaucracy to get the benefits you have earned and deserve. My office assists with receiving military records, medals and awards, pension and retirement benefits, Social Security and Medicare, and any other federal agencies.

Please visit my website for more information on how we can help Ohio’s nearly 900,000 veterans and your families.