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Kilili’s veterans bill becomes law

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(Office of the CNMI Congressional Delegate) — Veterans and their eligible family members will now be able to use their GI Bill educational benefits to cover the cost of preparatory courses for license and certification exams. Legislation drafted by U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan and added to the Ryan Kules and Paul Benne Special Adaptive Housing Improvement Act of 2019 was signed by President Donald Trump on Saturday. This is Sablan’s second veterans bill to become law this year.

Sablan’s new law allows the Veterans Administration to pay the fees for courses that prepare students for license and certification tests. Northern Marianas College, for instance, has offered a $400 course to help prepare for the NCLEX nurse licensing exam. Latte Training Academy offers CompTIA certification exam courses for those entering IT professions. Sablan’s new law allows the GI bill to cover those costs.

“Covering these test prep courses as a GI bill benefit will make it easier for veterans and their eligible family members to enter in-demand careers in health care, technology, teaching, finance, and other fields that require government licenses and certifications,” Congressman Sablan said. Before, only the test fees were covered by the GI Bill.

As a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Sablan has made it a goal to make more benefits available to returning service members and their families. Up to 30 percent of Marianas high school graduates enter the military each year, according to the Public School System.

He has also focused on protecting veterans benefits during the coronavirus crisis. H.R. 6262, Sablan’s other veterans legislation to become law this year, safeguards vocational rehabilitation and employment benefits and subsistence payments, if a school a veteran was attending closes. H.R. 6262 was piggybacked on to the Student Veteran Coronavirus Response Act enacted in March.

In addition to Sablan’s preparatory course provisions the Special Adaptive Housing Improvement Act, signed Saturday, increases the number and funding of grants to help disabled veterans buy, build or modify homes to meet their needs and live more independently. The law also cuts the time students wait to get paid under the VA’s Work-Study program. Instead of taking weeks for VA to process these payments, schools can now receive direct funding to pay students for their work.

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