Pittsburgh, PA - Governor Tom Wolf visited the Southwestern Pennsylvania Veterans Home today to encourage the state’s National Guard members to enroll in the first-of-its-kind Military Family Education Program, known as the PA GI Bill. Gov. Wolf was joined by Department of Military and Veterans Affairs’ Brig. Gen. Gregg Perez, Sens. Lindsey Williams and Pam Iovino, and PA National Guard members and their families. Following the press announcement, the governor and guests spent time visiting with home residents, thanking them for their service to our commonwealth and country.
“The Pennsylvania GI Bill family education program is a way for Pennsylvanians to support the families of our Guard members, who are sacrificing precious time with their loved ones to keep us safe,” Gov. Wolf said. “The least we can do as Pennsylvanians to thank these military families is to ease the burden of paying for education.”
The name “Pennsylvania GI Bill” is a reference to the GI Bill first issued after World War II. That GI Bill provided millions of veterans with the means to start a business or to enroll in school to re-train for a civilian job. The GI Bill is one of the most net-positive programs in American history.
Under the PA GI Bill, Guard members who commit to an additional six years of service can receive five years of higher education benefits for their spouses and children. The program will provide for 10 semesters of tuition-free education for family member(s) and is in addition to the Guard’s existing Education Assistance Program for Guard members themselves.
The benefit must be used at a Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) approved educational institution, and at the tuition rate set by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE). The PA GI Bill could benefit up to 8,000 military family members. Enrollment began Oct. 29 and hundreds of families have already signed up.
“The PA GI Bill is a great re-enlistment incentive for Pennsylvania’s National Guard members who are not only protecting our commonwealth and country, but also want to secure a bright future for their family,” said Brig. Gen. Gregg Perez, chief of staff for the Pennsylvania Air National Guard. “Our highly trained soldiers and airmen are experts in their specialty areas and are frequently called for federal or state duty, so it is critical to Pennsylvania and the nation that we retain these very talented men and women.”
“The PA GI Bill is not only a pro-education bill, but it is a pro-working families bill,” said Sen. Williams, Chair of the Senate Community, Economic, and Recreational Development Committee. “Our National Guard Members make so many sacrifices, but so do their families. This legislation honors that commitment in one of the best ways: by allowing them to continue their education. This is the first bill that I’ve been the prime sponsor of that has gone to the governor’s desk for signature, and I am so honored to have been able to give back to our National Guard Members and their families in this way.”
"The PA GI Bill embodies Pennsylvania’s commitment to supporting the men and women who serve our country, as well as their loved ones,” said Sen. Pam Iovino, Democratic Chair of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and Emergency Preparedness. "Supporting the educational and professional aspirations of the spouses and children of our National Guard members is a fitting way to honor their service, especially on the heels of Veteran’s Day and during November, Military Family Month."
“Instead of our military members worrying about the cost of education for their children, they can be focused on the task at hand,” Gov. Wolf said. “And their children will graduate with little or no debt, allowing them to spend their money on a house or starting a business instead of paying off student loans. I want as many of our Guard members to take advantage of this as possible, and I encourage anyone with even just a little bit of interest to reach out for more information.”
Interested Guard members can apply through their unit to the PA National Guard Education Office. Tuition benefits will begin for the 2020-2021 academic year.
More information on the PA GI Bill, along with answers to frequently asked questions, can be found on the Pennsylvania National Guard website.
MEDIA CONTACT: J.J. Abbott - 717-783-1116
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