House Passes Gallego Veterans Package, including Gallego, Johnson, O’Halleran, and Cole Bill to Support Native Veterans Attending Tribal Colleges and Universities
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed by voice vote H.R. 2878, a legislative package to support Native American, student and homeless veterans which includes the Native VetSuccess at Tribal Colleges and Universities Pilot Program Act, which was introduced by Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-SD), Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ), and Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK).
H.R. 2878 would connect Native veterans and their families to VA services and provide Native veterans attending Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) with educational counseling and vocational support by expanding the VetSuccess on Campus (VSOC) program to TCUs. The VSOC program is not currently available to Native veterans attending TCUs, despite the fact that Native Americans have the highest rates of military service among demographic groups.
H.R. 2878 also includes legislative proposals to:
- Increase the number of veterans in high-tech 21st Century careers by providing an immediate injection of funds into the Veteran Technology Education Course (VET-TEC) program so that this successful initiative can serve more veterans during and following the pandemic.
- Ensure student veterans completing their education are not unfairly stripped of their housing benefits in their final semester of school.
- Enable the VA to partner with non-profits, States, Tribes, and localities to increase affordable housing inventory specifically for veterans to fight veteran homelessness.
“H.R. 2878 helps us keep our promise to Native veterans, a group that has fought for this country in every war since the American Revolution; it gives the VA the tools to continue to fight veteran homelessness in the wake of a pandemic that exacerbated our housing crisis; it directs funds to help veterans succeed in 21st century careers that have become all the more essential in a virtual world; and it ensures that student veterans can keep their housing benefits until they graduate from school,” said Rep. Gallego, a combat veteran and member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. “I am proud to have worked across the aisle to assemble this legislative package to help improve access to economic and educational opportunities for veteran communities. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to get it signed into law.”
“Educational and career counseling programs are critical to the long-term success of our Native veterans. Expanding the VetSuccess on Campus program to tribal colleges ensures our Native veterans are best prepared for civilian life,” said Rep. Johnson. “I’m proud our bill passed the House and look forward to the day our Native veterans are able to take full advantage of the services they’ve earned. I hope the Senate will quickly pass our bill.”
“As the representative for Arizona’s First Congressional District, a vast and diverse area that includes 12 Indian Nations and Tribes, I am committed to doing everything in my power to ensure that Native American veterans have access to the highest quality education available. Today, I’m proud to see our bipartisan bill that will aid veterans and servicemembers finishing their degrees, give them the tools they need to succeed afterward, and ensure they are able to access safe, quality living accommodations throughout, pass the House. I look forward to seeing it signed into law,” said Rep. O’Halleran.
“Native Americans lead all racial and ethnic groups in terms of enlisting for military service, and we must continue to provide them with access to the quality education they truly deserve,” said Rep. Cole, Co-Chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus. “By establishing a pilot program at Tribal Colleges and Universities, we can connect Native veterans to programs such as educational and career counseling, vocational testing and expedited veteran readiness and employment services. Indeed, the legislation would ensure our Native veterans have the tools critical to their success after service. I am very proud that this legislation has now passed the House, and I hope to see it enacted into law.”