Kilili: Veterans coronavirus bill becomes law

Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (file photo)

Veterans in a vocational rehabilitation and education program will now be protected, if their schooling ends because of the coronavirus. The President signed into law legislation drafted by Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan on Tuesday, as part of the Student Veteran Coronavirus Response Act of 2020.

Sablan’s bill, H.R. 6262, allows the Veterans Administration to keep paying for a veteran’s housing and keep providing a subsistence allowance through the end of the term, in the event the school the vet is attending closes. The new law also provides two additional months of subsistence allowance to veterans currently participating in the vocational rehabilitation and education, who may face difficulty finding a job as a result of COVID-19’s impact on near-term employment prospects.

“The coronavirus is hurting everyone in ways large and small,” Congressman Sablan said. “My legislation is aimed at veterans nationwide, who were doing their best to build their skills to enter the job market, only to have their work derailed by this disease.

“By continuing the support they were expecting from the federal government, we help these veterans stay on track, so they are ready when the economy reopens.”

Sablan’s bill also prevents veterans from losing eligibility time for education support, when they do not receive credit for classes cut short by the coronavirus.

In addition to the provisions from Sablan’s bill, the Student Veteran Coronavirus Response Act, also recognizes that not every student veteran will be able to make the transition to online learning, if their school is forced to use that system during the coronavirus crisis. Veterans in that situation could also continue to receive a housing allowance. And the bill allows the VA to continue paying student veterans on work-study, even if they lose their on-campus job due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“We cannot let any student veteran lose their work-study payments, have their housing cut off, exhaust their disaster housing stipend continuation payments, or lose their benefits due to school closures during the coronavirus pandemic,” Sablan said.