Death of veteran's daughter prompts proposed change in GI Bill benefits

Death of veteran's daughter prompts proposed change in GI Bill benefits

by Katy Moeller
The Idaho Statesman

Retired Navy Capt. Edward Hill had hoped his daughter, Shauna, would use his veterans’ education benefits to go to college and then medical school.

The 16-year-old Eagle High School student, who was a competitive figure skater/ice dancer and violinist, was killed in a two-car crash on Idaho Highway 16 in 2012. She was driving home from orchestra practice when the accident occurred.

Hill and his wife, Heidi, hoped to transfer the education benefits to their younger daughter, Haley — but federal law doesn’t allow moving GI Bill benefits from one child to another post-retirement.

On Thursday, U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, introduced a bill that would allow that. U.S. Sen. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, introduced a companion bill in the Senate.

House Resolution 1112 is called the Shauna Hill Post 9/11 Education Benefits Transferability Act. It would permit reassignment of veterans’ education benefits in cases where the designated beneficiary passes away.

“Congress surely didn’t intend to exclude a surviving child or spouse when it expanded GI benefits in 2009,” Labrador said in a press release Thursday. “Losing a child is the worst thing I can imagine and we honor those who serve by clearing up this inconsistency and providing some small measure of relief.”

The Hills are grateful for the effort, and they believe the law change could help other families facing terrible losses, the release said.

Labrador’s office says the proposed legislation has the support of a dozen other congressmen and has been endorsed by the Concerned Veterans for America.

©2017 The Idaho Statesman (Boise, Idaho)
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