FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
September 15, 2009
Contact: Jake Rubin
KAGEN PROVIDES VETERANS WITH EDUCATION OPPORTUNITIES THROUGH THE 21st CENTURY GI BILL
(GREEN BAY, WI) Congressman Steve Kagen, M.D. met with a group of veterans who are attending college on the 21st Century GI Bill. The Congressman discussed their experience in the military and what a college education will mean for their future. Financial Aid specialists were also on-hand to explain how other veterans can take advantage of this incredible opportunity.
“I am working hard to guarantee our veterans the benefits they have earned – before, during and after they serve in harm’s way,” said Kagen. “One thing we can do as a community is provide our veterans with a great education. If we get that right, then everything else will follow. If we get it wrong, nothing else will matter. The 21st Century GI Bill provides an opportunity for a great education.”
The bill, which became effective August 1, 2009, expands the number of people who qualify for education support from the Veterans Administration. Veterans who have served 90 days of aggregate active duty or who have been disabled in the service since September 11, 2001 are eligible for benefits under the program. They may claim benefits for 15 years after they leave the service.
Kagen was joined by Iraq War veteran and University of Wisconsin-Green Bay student Craig Destree, NWTC student Jeff Nieling. NWTC financial aid director Emily Ysebaert, Veterans services Coordinator Kathy Schubring and Dean of Enrolment Services Mark Franks were available to provide information on the many financial aid options available to those who have served out nation in uniform.
Destree, vice-president of the campus organization Vets 4 Vets, noted that local veterans have long enjoyed high-quality benefits, and will see an expansion of services. “Wisconsin has always been a model,” he said. “The new GI Bill may change where the financing comes from, so it will be important for servicemen to understand how to access their benefits. It’s a win for everyone.”
The program provides up to 48 months of tuition, fees, housing and books for undergraduate and graduate programs offered by accredited degree granting institutions of high learning, public and private. The number of University of Wisconsin-Green Bay students who have received veteran’s benefits to help cover the cost of tuition has increased from 113 in the 2005-06 academic year to 386 in the most recently completed academic year. Kagen voted for this legislation in June 2008
This week the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs will co-host campus outreach events in Green Bay. On Wednesday representatives from the department will be at UW-Green Bay’s Coffin Library, 2420 Nicolet Drive, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. On Thursday, they will be the Student Center Cafeteria at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, 2740 West Mason Street, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.
The events will provide information and assistance regarding federal and state veterans’ benefits, programs and services, and a special emphasis on education benefits to include the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the Wisconsin GI Bill. Current and prospective student-veterans and veterans from the surrounding areas, as well as their families, are welcome at these events.
WDVA staff and school veterans’ officials will provide information and be available to discuss federal and state education programs and services, and to assist veterans in applying for benefits. Providers will also include health care staff from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), addressing the needs of veterans recently returned from active duty, and additional representatives will include the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development and the Brown and Outagamie County Veterans Service Officers (CVSO) as well as various veterans’ service organizations.
The Congressman also recalled with great reverence Dave Rasmussen, a veteran of Operation Desert Storm who passed away on Friday. Dave was a founding member of Desert Veterans of Wisconsin, a member and secretary of the Friends of Brown County Veterans and served on Kagen’s Veterans Advisory Board.
“His service to his country and his fellow veterans was an inspiration. He will be missed,” said Kagen.