[WASHINGTON, DC] – U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) introduced legislation to allow student veterans to more easily access documentation needed to secure housing. The Securing Electronic Records for Veterans Ease (SERVE) Act requires the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to make documentation of Post 9/11 GI Bill monthly housing stipends available online for use in verification to housing agents, leasing companies, apartment managers, and landlords. A companion measure, introduced in the House of Representatives by U.S. Representative Jim Himes (D-CT), passed the House of Representatives last November.
“The SERVE Act recognizes that student veterans too often face senseless obstacles that stymie their efforts to obtain higher education. This measure is a simple fix that will allow student veterans to access electronic documentation of Post 9/11 GI Bill housing stipends in order to better secure housing near the educational institution they attend. Congress has a responsibility to ease veterans’ reentry into civilian life and remove all hurdles that block their way to a smooth transition and successful future,” said Blumenthal.
“I learned about the values of military service from my three older brothers. I’m deeply proud of the men and women who fight for our country and we have a commitment to do right by them when they return home,” said Warren. “Veterans and their families should never have to worry about jumping through bureaucratic hoops to verify eligibility for their GI Bill funds or housing stipends. Our bill will eliminate an unnecessary obstacle for veterans and their kids.”
The Post 9/11 GI Bill affords many veterans, survivors, and dependents the opportunity to pursue higher education by providing funds for tuition, books, fees, and a monthly housing stipend. Most veteran students using education benefits seek housing in the local market, rather than in on-campus facilities. As many rental agencies and landlords require proof of income, veteran students are disadvantaged by hurdles in accessing housing stipend documentation. The SERVE Act will remove those hurdles by ensuring veterans and their families can access documentation on the VA website.
“The men and women who have bravely sacrificed for our country face distinct and daunting challenges when they come home. Reclaiming their normal lives can take a lot of work and, too often, we leave our veterans on their own to do so. Even those who have taken the necessary steps to further their educations using the Post 9/11 GI Bill still can face challenges securing housing because of outdated systems. We can help make their lives easier, at least a little bit, with the SERVE Act, which would make housing more accessible for many student vets. I’m deeply grateful to Senators Blumenthal and Warren for their support in the Senate and hopefully we can move this bill forward quickly,” said Himes.