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Tim Kaine, Saxby Chambliss introduce SERVE Act of 2013

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U.S. Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, introduced the Servicemember Education Reform and Vocational Enhancement (SERVE) Act of 2013, a bill to improve the quality of educational programs for servicemembers and veterans and help them transition into the civilian workforce.

tim kaineThe SERVE Act will raise minimum standards for programs that accept educational benefits from the Veterans Administration (VA) and the Department of Defense (DoD) to make them consistent with educational standards currently required for other federal programs, such as Pell Grants and other types of federal financial aid, ensuring all veterans receiving benefits through the GI bill and Tuition Assistance obtain a high-quality education. The legislation also establishes a new pilot program to facilitate the use of veterans’ benefits for employment or on-the-job training programs and provides academic or employment counseling throughout the process to enable servicemembers the opportunity to be employed more quickly and at a lower cost.

“I’m proud to introduce the SERVE Act with Senator Chambliss, just six months after we introduced the Troop Talent Act. It’s important we do everything we can to improve the quality of life for our servicemembers as they transition from active duty service” said Kaine. “This bill will elevate the standards for educational programs that receive funding from the va and DoD, empower our nation’s veterans with increased access to high-quality education and job training, and equip them with the academic counseling, knowledge and skills to ease their transition back into civilian life.”

Over the Veterans Day weekend, Kaine traveled to Winchester, Richmond and Williamsburg to discuss the SERVE Act along with its companion legislation, the Troop Talent Act of 2013, which Kaine and Chambliss introduced in April. Through both bills, Kaine hopes to address the low graduation rate and high unemployment rate among veterans – especially young veterans who served in iraq and Afghanistan, which remains higher than the national average.

“When our servicemen and women return to civilian life, the transition can be hard,” said Chambliss, vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and a senior member of the Armed Services Committee. “While we have in place some programs, like the post Post-9/11 GI Bill, that assist veterans during this time, it is often difficult to know what the best programs are for each individual. The SERVE Act, introduced by Senator Kaine and myself, will raise the standards for educational programs that train our troops, and ensure our veterans and servicemembers  are getting the counseling they need to effectively use their benefits.  We should have no higher priority than caring for our nation’s veterans, and the improved transparency and career counseling from this legislation will guarantee our troops receive the training they need to be successful in their civilian careers, increasing the likelihood of employment after their training is complete.”

Chambliss has been an outspoken advocate for military personnel throughout his 20 years in Congress. He has been a strong voice for Georgia’s military communities and a tireless advocate for improving the quality of life for troops and their families. Chambliss has supported legislation in the past to increase education and employment-training opportunities; improve reporting systems for suicide prevention; provide superior healthcare coverage for servicemembers and their children; ensure better military family housing; and support programs to ease the transition of troops back into civilian life.

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