WASHINGTON, DC – Today, after passing both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, H.R. 7746, Sgt. Wolf Kyle Weninger Veterans Education Fairness Act of 2022, is on its way to the President’s desk to be signed into law. Congressman Dave Joyce (OH-14) introduced this legislation in May in honor of the late Sergeant Wolf Kyle Weninger, a U.S. Marine and OH-14 constituent. H.R. 7746 was included as part of the Student Veterans Emergency Relief Act of 2022.
The bill amends the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008, commonly known as the new G.I. Bill, to ensure soldiers who are honorably discharged under the sole survivorship discharge distinction prior to completing three years of Active Duty service are still eligible to seek financial compensation for a college education. Joyce’s legislation passed the House as part of H.R. 7939, the Student Veteran Emergency Relief Act of 2022.
“I want to thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle who helped get this bill to the President’s desk,” said Joyce. “After learning what happened to the Weninger family following Kyle’s death, I was humbled to introduce this bill on their behalf. It’s only right to ensure those in our Armed Forces can access the benefits they’ve earned following the conclusion of their service.”
The 2008 GI Bill guarantees funding for undergraduate and qualifying graduate education to those who have served three years or more of Active Duty following September 11, 2001. While there are exceptions to that three-year requirement for those forced to seek an early discharge due to medical or personal reasons, they do not currently extend to individuals who receive a sole survivorship discharge. Defined under Section 10 of the United States Code, a sole survivorship discharge provides a veteran with early separation from the Armed Forces when they are the only surviving child in a family in which their father, mother, or only sibling also served in the Armed Forces and was killed or permanently disabled as a result of wounds incurred through their service.
When Sergeant Weninger, known by many back home as Wolf, was tragically killed in a training accident in 2020, his only sibling, Drew, was serving in Active Duty as a Lieutenant JG in the U.S. Navy. As a result of Sergeant Weninger’s death, Drew was granted a sole survivorship discharge to return home. However, because he had not yet completed three full years of active-duty service prior to his honorable discharge, he was ineligible to receive financial support under the 2008 GI Bill to further his education after graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy.