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House Passes Labrador Bill Honoring Idaho Veteran's Daughter, Aiding Military Families

 

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Tuesday | July 25, 2017

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HOUSE PASSES LABRADOR BILL HONORING IDAHO VETERAN’S DAUGHTER, AIDING MILITARY FAMILIES

Labrador bill closes gap in veterans’ education benefits

WASHINGTON, D.C. –The U.S. House on Monday passed bipartisan legislation to improve access to veterans’ benefits, the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Education Assistance Act (H.R. 3218). This legislation includes Rep. Raúl Labrador’s bill to fill a gap in veterans’ education programs by permitting reassignment of education benefits in cases where the designated beneficiary passes away.

Labrador’s bill was prompted by the death of a constituent, 16-year-old Shauna Hill of Eagle. Hill’s father, a retired Navy pilot with 28 years of service, learned that current law prohibited transferring his benefits under the GI Bill to his surviving daughter, Haley.

Labrador, R-Idaho, took up the cause and introduced the Shauna Hill Post 9/11 Education Benefits Transferability Act (H.R. 1112). The Labrador bill was included in the larger bill to improve veterans’ benefits that passed the House Monday night on a 405-0 vote.

Capt. Hill and his wife, Heidi, welcomed the news.

“The GI Bill provides fantastic benefits to those who serve their country,” the Hills said in a statement. “We were frustrated to learn we couldn’t transfer the education benefits after Shauna’s death, but now she is leaving a quite a legacy.

“Haley has graduated college, so she won’t directly benefit,” the Hills continued. “But the bill will make a real difference for deserving veteran families in the future. With all the challenges facing those who have served in the conflicts over the last 15 years, it is paramount that we do everything we can to recognize the sacrifices of these great Americans and fulfill our nation’s commitment to help them and their families.”

Said Labrador: “The Hills endured a horrible tragedy that was compounded by an oversight in the law. But out of that pain and loss, they did something for others. I’m happy to have helped the Hills honorthe memory of their daughter and gratified that veterans will benefit in coming years.”

Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, has introduced companion Senate legislation to the Labrador bill.The Colmery Act has been praised by the leaders of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Chairman Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Ranking Member Jon Tester (D-Mont.), and enjoys wide support from veterans service organizations.

“It’s great to see the bipartisan effort on this important legislation,” Labrador said. “I look forward to the bill becoming law.”

Shauna Hill was a junior at Eagle High School when she died as a result of injuries suffered in an automobile accident in 2012.

Labrador first met the Hills in 2013, when he and Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, presented the family with a Congressional Bronze Medal awarded to Shauna for public service, personal development and physical fitness.

Capt. Hill later sought Labrador’s help in working with the Navy in hopes of obtaining a waiver to reassign the education benefit to his surviving daughter. Unable to negotiate an administrative fix, Labrador sought a legislative remedy to ensure that in the future no veteran would find themselves in a similarly tragic situation.

Shauna Hill was a competitive figure skater and ice dancer. She played the violin in the Eagle High School Orchestra, including a performance at New York’s Carnegie Hall. The accident occurred when she was on her way home from orchestra practice.

To view Labrador’s floor speech on the bill, click here. Below is a photo of Shauna Hill, provided courtesy of the Hill family.