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June 11, 2024

King Joins Bipartisan Bill to Ensure All Purple Heart Recipients Can Transfer Benefits to Dependents

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Angus King (I-ME), a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee (SVAC), has joined legislation that will close an existing loophole and allow Purple Heart recipients who receive this distinction after their discharge to transfer their GI bill benefits to their dependents. In 2017, Congress passed the Forever GI Bill, which incentivized servicemembers to continue serving in the military by allowing them to transfer GI bill benefits to their dependents after six years of service, if they agreed to serve an additional four. In 2018, the Department of Defense (DoD) expanded GI Bill transferability benefits to Purple Heart recipients, allowing them to transfer GI benefits to their dependents while on active duty regardless of years of service. While this policy honors most wounded warriors, it leaves behind a small group of those who received their Purple Hearts after being discharged from the military. The Purple Heart Veterans Education Act would close this loophole by allowing veterans who received their Purple Heart after their service to transfer their benefits to their dependents.

“Our Purple Heart recipients are American patriots that put everything on the line in defense of democracy and freedom,” said Senator Angus King. “The Purple Heart Veterans Education Act would ensure that servicemembers who have received a Purple Heart after their honorable discharge can transfer their well-deserved benefits to their dependents. The entire family serves when a military member signs up to serve and we owe it to them to provide the upmost support by quickly closing this loophole.”

Specifically, the Purple Heart Veterans Education Act would:

  1. Permit an individual awarded the Purple Heart for service in the Armed Force on or after September 11, 2001, to transfer their educational benefits to one or more of their dependents.
  2. Allow flexibility by permitting the veteran to allocate different amounts, totaling 36 months of benefits to each of their dependents. For example, one dependent may be designated 20 months and the other 16 months. 
  3. Protect the veteran’s right to their benefits by prohibiting the use of their educational benefits to be treated as marital property or the asset of a marital estate. 
  4. Honor the veteran’s legacy by allowing their dependents to continue using the unused benefits after their death. 

The bill is also cosponsored by Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN).

Representing one of the states with the highest rates of veterans per capita, Senator King is a staunch advocate for America’s servicemembers and veterans. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, he previously pressed Pentagon officials on the need to prioritize resources for servicemembers transitioning from active duty to veteran status. Senator King has also worked to ensure American veterans receive their earned benefits and that the VA is properly implementing various programs such as the PACT Actthe State Veterans Homes Domiciliary Care Flexibility Act, and the John Scott Hannon Act. This past fall, he introduced a bipartisan bill to protect the educational benefits of military dependents if the servicemember who transferred them those education benefits is dishonorably discharged from the military due to domestic or sexual assault against a family. Additionally, Senator King has introduced the bipartisan TAP Promotion Act and bipartisan legislation to improve transportation to health care appointments for rural veterans.

The full text of the bill can be found HERE.


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