In a joint letter to leaders of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, 10 general aviation associations urged the full Senate to reject calls to place limits on flight training benefits for veterans.
The letter noted that aviation training provides a path to a well-paying civilian career and urged lawmakers to ensure that veterans can use their benefits for flight training, adding that “absent significant personal financial resources, no veteran can attain an aeronautical college degree that includes earning a commercial pilot license.”
Such flight training programs do not qualify for federally backed student loans and financial institutions often treat them as unsecured loans with high interest rates.
“Given the pressing need for pilots in this country across all sectors, a cap would be counterproductive not only to veterans but to our nation’s economy,” the May 17 letter said.
The letter was sent one day after the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee approved the Veterans First Act without the controversial cap on flight training.
“We appreciate the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee’s leadership on this issue,” said AOPA President Mark Baker. “Our veterans have earned their benefits and they should be allowed to use them to pursue the education and career of their choice—including a career in aviation.”
In addition to Baker, the was signed by the leaders of the Experimental Aircraft Association, General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Helicopter Association International, National Association of State Aviation Officials, National Air Transportation Association, National Business Aviation Association, Air Line Pilots Association International, Air Medical Operators Association, and The Association of Air Medical Services.
AOPA and others had previously opposed provisions in the House Veterans Employment, Education, and Healthcare Improvement Act ( H.R. 3016) capping flight training benefits at $20,235, a figure too low to allow students to earn a commercial certificate needed to begin working as a pilot. Despite objections that legislation passed with the cap intact.
The full Senate must now vote on the Veterans First Act. If it passes, the Senate and House will have to reconcile their differences and reach agreement before the legislation can become law.