Community Briefs

compiled by Samoa News staff

AMATA AND HVAC MARK-UP LANDMARK G.I. BILL

Washington, D.C. — Friday, July 21, 2017 — Congresswoman Aumua Amata, and the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs passed a series of bills out of mark-up yesterday including H.R. 3218, The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017. H.R. 3218 will make several improvements for veteran and service member education covered under the G.I. Bill.

“I am very proud of this fact, and repeat it every chance I get…that my home district of American Samoa has the highest rate of recruitment in the nation,” stated Amata. “One of the main influences that draws our young people to the recruiting station in Pago Pago is the G.I. Bill incentive.  For many years now, the young people of American Samoa have utilized the G.I. Bill to gain access to a higher education upon completion of their service to the nation.  Many have gone on to do great things with those degrees, and I am excited to see this historic program expanded and improved,” she continued.

Major Provisions of the Bill would:

Remove time restrictions to use the GI Bill for future eligible recipients. This would allow them able to use their GI bill benefits for their entire life as opposed to the current 15-year timeline. Eligible recipients would be service members, veterans and surviving spouses and children;

  • Provide significant increases in GI Bill funding for Reservists and Guardsmen, dependents, surviving spouses, and surviving dependents;
  • Provide 100% GI Bill eligibility to Post 9/11 Purple Heart recipients;
  • Provide GI Bill eligibility to Reservists and Guardsmen who are currently being put on active duty and convalescent medical leave orders that do not currently accrue GI Bill eligibility;
  • Provide an extra academic year’s worth of Post 9/11 benefits for over 3,300 veterans (per year) to help them finish a STEM degree;
  • Create a pilot program that would pay for veterans to take certain high technology courses (coding boot camps, IT certifications etc.) and would also provide living stipends to veterans;
  • Make it easier and cheaper for veterans to use their GI bill to take national tests or tests that lead to a license or credential;
  • Restore eligibility for service members whose school closes in the middle of a semester (ex. ITT Tech and Corinthian); and
  • Authorize funding for IT improvements to ensure that GI Bill claims are processed quickly and accurately.

“I want to thank Committee Chairman Phil Roe and Ranking Member Tim Walz for their work on H.R. 3218, and I also want to applaud all the members whose provisions have been included in this landmark legislation. This legislation is the result of a lot of hard work on both sides of the aisle, and I am proud to be a cosponsor of this bipartisan bill,” concluded Amata.

(Source: Congresswoman Aumua Amata Office, Washington DC)

DOI PROVIDES GRANT FOR RESOURCE PROTECTION IN AM SAMOA

(BASED ON A PRESS RELEASE) — WASHINGTON, D.C. — Interior Acting Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas Nikolao Pula made available $94,906 for natural and cultural resource protection in American Samoa.

“We are pleased to support Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga and the Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources team in their efforts to preserve natural ecosystems vital to American Samoa’s environment and the people’s livelihood,” said Pula. “American Samoa’s natural resources are highly vulnerable to the impacts of land-based pollution, illegal near-shore fishing and changes in climate for which this funding is greatly needed.”

The American Samoa Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources will use the funds to:

1)      Coordinate efforts in the Faga’alu, Vatia, and Nu’uuli Watersheds, each prioritized by either the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force or the territory.  Overfishing, climate change, land-based pollution, and population pressure have been identified as the four primary threats to natural resources in these areas.

2)      Continue development of rain gardens and other best practices to manage storm water runoff in the territory by collaborating heavily with federal, territorial, and academics as well as village councils. 

3)      Provide GIS mapping training and certification to better inform management of priorities across watersheds, raingardens, and marine-protected areas, as well as other managed and unmanaged areas on the island.

4)      Set up integrated radar systems to monitor and deter poaching in the Tutuila Marine Protected Areas.

All funding for cultural and natural resources protection and management was provided for under what was formerly called the Coral Reef Initiative and is available under CFDA# 15.875 at https://www.grants.gov/.

All four U.S. territories of the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands as well as the three freely associated states of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau are eligible to apply.

[Source: DOI-OIA media release]

AUMUA ANNOUNCES DEPT OF HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES GRANTS FOR CANCER 

Friday, July 21, 2017 — Congresswoman Aumua Amata is pleased to announce that the Department of Health and Human Services has awarded American Samoa a grant of $633,967 for cancer prevention and control.

 “This grant is vital for the health of American Samoa. Being able to detect cancer early is vitally important in order to fight it,” stated Amata.

 “I would like to thank Motusa Tuileama Nua for his leadership of the Department of Health, and for Fara Utu for their hard work in securing these funds. I would also like to thank Secretary Price for his leadership of Health and Human services, and the staff of the HHS for recognizing the needs of American Samoa with this funding,” concluded Amata.

[Source: Congresswoman Aumua Amata Office, Washington D.C.)

 

 

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