WASHINGTON—The United States Senate today voted to restore tuition benefits for active duty service members, passing an amendment to the Continuing Appropriations Act to fund the federal government. Co-sponsored by U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), the amendment reinstates critical tuition assistance for active duty military that was cut as a result of budget sequestration.

I’m thrilled that the Senate stepped up to restore education benefits to service members who put their lives on the line for us every day,” said Murphy. “These brave men and women are working to get their degrees so they can not only improve their work in the military, but also improve skills they’ll need to get a job when they return home. The tuition assistance program took a major hit under budget sequestration, but this legislation is a big step towards reversing that damage. I thank the service members and their families who contacted me on this issue, and for their courage in service.”

Recently, the United States Marine Corps, Army, Air Force, and Coast Guard were forced to terminate their branches’ tuition assistance for active duty service members in response to sweeping cuts imposed by budget sequestration. Tuition assistance is a critical benefit for service members, and is used by hundreds of thousands of active duty military who earn degrees part-time in fields that directly improve their skills on and off the battlefield.  In Connecticut, thousands of active duty service men and women rely on the military tuition assistance program to obtain their degrees. This bipartisan amendment, introduced by U.S. Senators Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) and James Inhofe (R-Okla.), prevents drastic cuts to the tuition assistance program and allow active duty service members to continue their education.

Active duty service men and women, and parents of service members, wrote to Murphy to encourage him to support the measure. Below are excerpts from two Connecticut service members who urged Murphy to support the legislation:

As a member of the military and one that makes personal sacrifice to support my country and government I find it insulting that one of the few benefits that we have left us being cut. Neither I nor any of my fellow soldiers deserve to lose our tuition assistance in a time when it's hard enough to pay our bills on the salaries we earn. Being able to better myself by taking college courses and earning a degree serves both me and my country and having better educated soldiers should be important to you as well especially with how many are re-entering the private sector and trying to get jobs and help our economy. I am not one that is in it for the money as I take great pride in serving my country I just wish my country would take pride in offering benefits to their soldiers. Please help save our tuition assistance. –Stephen Froberg, Plainville, CT

Cutting the Tuition Assistance Program will make our country will suffer on the whole. With the increase of a technological force, education has been pushed up as a priority in our military.  As a U.S. Reservist, during my last deployment I was able to complete my Associates Degree. This time I was hoping to finish my Bachelor’s Degree. I ask for you please not to do away with this program. It will also help many soldiers upon their return from Theater to get work in what is already a challenging economy. –MSG TJ Finn, Stamford, CT