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Sen. Merkley lauds new survivor benefits for spouses of fallen military spouses

Sen. Jeff Merkley D-Oregon

Sen. Jeff Merkley
D-Oregon
Sponsored bill to broaden college benefits to spouses of deceased veterans.

Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley commended today’s announcement by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that college education scholarships will be available starting on November 3rd to spouses of military service members who died on active duty. This expanded scholarship comes as a result of legislation authored by Senator Merkley and passed into law this summer.

“Our military families face so many challenges and when tragedy strikes they deserve a chance to rebuild their lives through education opportunities,” said Merkley. “I was honored to fight for this change in Washington and it’s great news that the VA has been quick to put this legislation into action.”

Prior to the passage of Senator Merkley’s legislation, spouses of fallen service members were only eligible for limited education benefits. Merkley’s Spouses of Heroes Education Act makes them eligible for full scholarships which currently provide full in-state tuition and fees only to children of service members who died in the line of duty. This change will allow spouses to also receive the full cost of public, in-state undergraduate tuition and fees, plus a monthly grant for living expenses and textbooks.

The VA will track down surviving spouses eligible for this program and send them a letter with comparative information on the benefits available and instructions on how to make a choice among potential colleges.

Information about this program is available on the VA’s website and the GI Bill website: http://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill

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