U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer joined with Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) today to introduce the Spouses of Heroes Education Act, which would amend the Post-9/11 GI Bill to include spousal eligibility for the Fry Scholarship.
This legislation would provide the same full undergraduate education benefits to surviving spouses that are currently available to the children of a member of the Armed Forces who died in the line of duty.
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“We owe it to the spouses of our fallen service members – who have sacrificed so much – to offer them the full Post-9/11 GI Bill education benefits,” said Boxer, co-chair of the Senate Military Family Caucus. “These benefits would help surviving spouses get the education and skills they need to support their families after a devastating loss.”
“When a member of the Armed Forces’ life is taken while serving our country, the least we can do is to ensure their family has the education they need to succeed,” said Merkley, a member of the Senate Military Family Caucus. “We already provide that benefit to the children of our fallen heroes. We should extend that benefit to a husband or wife who often must go back to school to provide a foundation for their family. When a soldier, airman, seaman, or Marine goes into battle, so do their families. It’s time to fulfill our commitment to military families.”
Currently, spouses of fallen service members are only eligible to receive federal education benefits under the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Education Assistance (SDEA) program. This program provides an allowance of up to $936 a month, but it often does not cover the full cost of tuition and fees.
Under this legislation, spouses of these service members could receive the full cost of public, in-state undergraduate tuition and fees, plus a monthly living stipend and book allowance. Spouses would need to use this benefit within fifteen years, and would not remain eligible if they remarry.
Supporters of the bill include the Military Officers of America (MOAA) and the National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS).