American Trucking Associations Chairman Ray Kuntz testified June 21 before the House Veteran’s Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity in support of expanded educational benefits for veterans. ATA previously has supported legislation (H.R. 1824) that would expand the Montgomery GI Bill’s accelerated benefit payments to truck driver training schools. According to ATA, about 78,000 of the estimated 300,000 military personnel who transition to the civilian sector each year have significant transportation experience.
Similar legislation has been proposed in the past but has failed to be enacted into law. One of the impediments has been that the Department of Veterans Affairs concluded that adding truck driver training school to the list of educational programs eligible for accelerated benefits would be cost-prohibitive.
The VA’s list of approved educational programs that are eligible for accelerated benefits payment assistance emphasizes high-technology careers, ATA says. “We believe, however, that many of the approved courses of study on this list do not accurately reflect today’s market-driven career demands and/or opportunities,” Kuntz told the subcommittee.
ATA proposes that the VA-approved list of programs eligible for educational assistance either be replaced or revised to represent jobs in industry sectors, such as truck driving, that are expected to add large numbers of new, well-paying jobs to the U.S. economy and require educational career training that is truly high-cost and short term in nature.
To make the accelerated benefits program even more cost-effective, ATA suggests that Congress limit the length of training eligible for funding through the MGIB accelerated benefit payment program to one year or less. “Most two year or four year degree educational programs may not fall within the original intent of the Montgomery GI Bill’s accelerated benefit program – to improve the affordability of relatively high cost, short term programs,” Kuntz said.
H.R. 1824 is sponsored by Reps. Mike Michaud (D-Maine), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) and Stephanie Herseth (D-S.D.) introduced.
For a copy of Kuntz’s testimony, click here.