Today, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), co-chair of the Senate Military Family Caucus, joined with Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), Mark Begich (D-AK), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) to introduce the GI Bill Protection Act of 2012, which would permanently prohibit the inappropriate and misleading use of the phrase “GI Bill” in the marketing materials of for-profit colleges or universities.
“For more than 60 years, the phrase ‘GI Bill’ has been synonymous with our country’s commitment to do right by those who risk their lives to protect it,” Senator Boxer said. “The legislation we are introducing today would put a permanent end to the deceptive use of this phrase by for-profit schools targeting our veterans.”
In March, Senator Boxer led a group of thirteen Senators in asking Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to file a trademark application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for the phrase “GI Bill” to combat the problem of misleading advertisements and marketing practices aimed at veterans. By late April, President Obama had directed Secretary Shinseki to proceed with trademarking the phrase.
Because registered trademarks must be continually maintained in order to remain active, the GI Bill Protection Act of 2012 is essential to ensuring that these protections for veterans remain in place permanently. Congress has a long history of providing permanent statutory protection for phrases such as “American Veterans,” and the names of federal benefit programs like “Medicare” and “Social Security” to prevent misuse of these phrases. The GI Bill Protection Act of 2012 would provide the same protection for the phrase “GI Bill.”
The GI Bill Protection Act of 2012 is strongly supported by the Military Officers Association of America and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
“Thanks to Congress, hundreds of thousands of returning warriors and veterans have access to the greatest G.I. Bill program since World War II. But there are some who are ‘scamming’ our veterans by posing as quasi-governmental “GI Bill” experts on websites that are only fronts for aggressive marketing tactics,” said Vice Admiral Norbert R. Ryan, Jr., USN (ret.), President of the Military Officers Association of America. “The Military Officers Association of America strongly supports protecting our nation’s investment in the future of our veterans. One way to do that is to trademark the term ‘GI Bill’ so that it can only be used in conjunction with trustworthy sources of information for our veterans.”
“The VFW believes that when we ensure our veterans have access to accurate information about choosing a college, they will make the right decision. This is why we’re proud to support Senator Boxer’s bill to copyright the phrase ‘GI Bill’ once and for all,” said VFW Executive Director Bob Wallace. “Today, veterans can be inundated with inaccurate and sometimes false information about how and where to use their earned education benefits under the guise of an entity purporting to represent the GI Bill. By copyrighting the phrase, we protect the men and women who earned this benefit much like we already protect beneficiaries of Social Security and Medicare from companies that seek to take advantage of them.”