In-state tuition, college credit for military training now law for Washington’s 600,000 veterans
Calling the 2014 legislative session one of the “most beneficial for veterans in a generation,” Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler said the passage of five major veteran-related bills is “one more example of how the Majority Coalition Caucus is changing priorities in Olympia.”
Last week Gov. Jay Inslee signed Senate bills that removed the one-year waiting period for veterans or active members of the military to qualify for in-state tuition rates, and award college credit for military training. There are 22,000 veterans, active-duty personnel and their dependents enrolled in Washington’s community and technical colleges; the University of Washington has 1,344 enrolled veterans alone.
In addition to education benefits, new state laws expand access to home- and community-based service programs for dependents of military-service members, provide for special recognition on state driver’s licenses and identification cards, and provide additional support and maintenance for state veteran retirement homes and facilities.
“The Majority Coalition Caucus is working to put people and solutions above politics, which is a change for Olympia,” said Schoesler, R-Ritzville. “The people we serve include many veterans who were stationed at Fairchild Air Force Base, Joint Base Lewis-McChord or other Washington installations and chose to make our state their home after transitioning out of the military. Our coalition is acknowledging them and their service with these new opportunities.”
Sen. Bruce Dammeier, R-Puyallup, is one of three veterans serving in the Senate’s Majority Coalition Caucus. “We are keenly aware of the sacrifice and personal cost that service in the military requires,” said Dammeier, a Navy veteran and graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. “We want to keep veterans and their families in our state and make sure they have the best possible transition into civilian life.”
Veterans serving in the Majority Coalition Caucus include Dammeier; Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, who serves as a commander in the Naval Reserves; and Sen. Mike Hewitt, R-Walla Walla, an Army veteran.
According to Defense Manpower Data Center, 11,173 service members left the military in 2013 and made Washington their home; more than 600,000 veterans reside in Washington.
The Senate bills that benefit veterans and became law are:
- Senate Bill 5318, introduced by Sen. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor: Removed the one-year waiting period for veterans or active members of the military for the purpose of eligibility for resident tuition.
- Senate Bill 5969, introduced by Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-Pierce County: Awards academic credit for military training
- Senate Bill 5691, introduced by Hewitt, R-Walla Walla: Establishes a state veterans’ home in Walla Walla.
- Senate Bill 5775, introduced by Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver: Provides veteran designation on drivers’ licenses and identification cards
- House Bill 2363 /SB 6351, introduced by Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn: Expanded home and community-based service programs for dependents of military service members in Washington.