OLYMPIA – Governor Inslee has signed legislation sponsored by Representative Dave Paul, D-Oak Harbor, to expand access to certain benefits for veterans and their children.
“Our veterans and their families have been asked to sacrifice enough. Bureaucratic red tape shouldn’t get in the way of their education benefits,” said Paul. “Providing veterans with support to help them earn a family-wage after leaving the armed forces is simply the right thing to do.”
House Bill 2543 grants access to in-state tuition for veterans and their children, even if the technical transition from military life to civilian life has not been officially completed. Currently, veterans and their families do not qualify for in-state tuition until all discharge paperwork is completed, which can take significant time. The legislation also grants in-state residency to are eligible for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits, and to students who separated from the military due to sexual orientation or gender identity.
Finally, House Bill 2544 ensures that all armed service personnel who earned a campaign badge or medal will receive full retirement benefits from the state of Washington. Previously, only veterans who received a campaign medal and served in specific conflicts were awarded these benefits. The bill also directs the Law Enforcement Officers’ and Firefighters’ Plan 2 Retirement Board to study the impacts of extending these benefits to veterans who earned an expeditionary badge or medal.
“Our state has many veterans from all branches of the armed services, and our district has one of the largest concentrations of veterans in Washington” continued Paul. “We need to make life easier for our veterans and their families. I am glad these bills have made it the governor’s desk.”
Both bills received overwhelming bipartisan support in the House and Senate. Paul represents the 10th Legislative District. This district includes Island County, which boasts one of the highest concentrations of veterans in Washington.