Luis Vasquez-Contes, American G.I. Forum
October 26, 2:36 PM
Good afternoon, to the leaders and staff members of the Department of Education. My name is Luis Vasquez-Contes, and I’ve had the honor of serving in many capacities within the American GI Forum, including as the National Commander.
The American GI Forum was founded after World War II when many Hispanic service members returned home only to find many opportunities they deserved were not there for them. Our motto since the beginning has been, “Education is Our Freedom and Freedom should be Everybody’s Business,” so you can see this topic is very important to us.
We are here today to call for closing the 90/10 loophole properly. It is a good law, and many veteran organizations fought very hard to fix this loophole. In coordination with Congress, the White House, and many others, it was an important and long-term effort. We will be very concerned of any efforts to weaken or undermine this law. Our members deserve the best education they can get, and we stand firm with the country’s veterans on this.
Unfortunately, veterans, service members, and their families will be a target of some schools for another two years, because closing the loophole does not take effect right away. Because of this delay, any request to weaken the implementation of this law would be very troubling. Delaying implementation for two years means there is a mechanism built-in to the process so schools can adjust as they need to.
For many of our members, the GI Bill and higher education represents an opportunity to improve their lives, and the lives of their family members. Education is a top reason why many people join the military today. They serve their country, and then get a chance to go to school—this is a big accomplishment. Unfortunately, many people would like to take advantage of veterans and their GI Bill. This is not what we want, and we hope you do what’s right for them.
I have said it before, but I feel it is important that I must say it again so you hear it loud and clear from me and our members: Veterans deserve the best education their GI Bill benefits can get. They should receive full value, and nothing less—they earned that right by serving our country.
At the American GI Forum, we have studied this issue with great care. We remain committed to doing the right thing for veterans, and hope you do also. Thank you for the time today, and we look forward to supporting this process however we can.
Public Hearings_Speech_AGIF_Luis Vasquez-Contes