Brighton Beach

Jeffries seeks financial aid for children of fallen soldiers

May 27, 2015 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries is part of a bi-partisan effort to get the bill passed. Photo courtesy Jeffries’ office

Children of military service members killed in the line of duty would be eligible for more student aid and other forms of financial assistance if a bill sponsored by U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries becomes law.

The bill, called the Fry Scholarship Enhancement Act, is designed to deliver expanded student aid assistance to the surviving children of service members who died in the line of duty. Surviving spouses of service members would also be covered under the bill.

Jeffries (D-Brooklyn-Queens) is part of a bi-partisan push in Congress to get the bill passed. Jeffries introduced the bill in the House while U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina) introduced the legislation in the Senate.

The bill would extend Yellow Ribbon G.I. Education Enhancement Program benefits to the child or spouse of service members who die in the line of duty while deployed.

The Yellow Ribbon Program is an educational assistance provision of the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008, according to the website of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The law allows institutions of higher learning to enter into agreements with the Department of Veterans Affairs to match a certain amount of the tuition and fees not covered by the basic Post-9/11 G.I. Bill.

While the Yellow Ribbon program is available to veterans utilizing Post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits and the dependents to whom a service member transferred benefits, it excludes Fry Scholarship recipients, who are specifically dependents of service members who die in the line of duty.

Jeffries said his bill would correct that imbalance in the current law.

“American soldiers lay their lives on the line each and every day to keep this nation safe. Helping their spouses and children pay for college is the very least we can do to show our appreciation for their bravery and unyielding courage. The families impacted by this bill have a loved one who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country. We must continue to assist them in every way possible,” Jeffries said in a statement.

“The families of service members killed in action have sacrificed so much and they have our respect and our gratitude. Expanding the Yellow Ribbon Program will ensure that they have full access to the educational benefits they deserve,” Brown said.

Tillis called the bill “commonsense, bipartisan legislation that expands student aid assistance for the families of the courageous service members who have died in defense of our freedoms.”

The legislation has been endorsed by the National Military Family Association, the Military Child Education Coalition, American Gold Star Mothers, Inc., the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors and the Gold Star Wives, according to Jeffries.