Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015 | 1:09 p.m.
When Dannia Ramos enrolled to study marketing at UNLV after eight years serving in the Air Force, her GI benefits helped cover the cost of tuition and books.
But they didn't help pay for child care for her two young sons, forcing Ramos and her husband, also a student veteran at UNLV, to stagger their schedules so someone was always with the kids.
"My husband would get home from school at 3 p.m., and often I would meet him on our driveway," said Ramos, a senior and president of the UNLV Rebel Women Vets organization. "We only had time to do a high five as we exchanged our parental roles for a book bag."
Congresswoman Dina Titus is looking to provide some relief for student veterans with families through a new bill she's introduced that would allow GI benefits to also cover child care. Titus, D-Nev., announced the bill at a preschool on UNLV's campus today to a crowd of veterans, school officials and children.
"We have got to face the fact that women veterans are increasing in number. They have special education, health care and other kinds of needs like child care," Titus said. "We have to have the VA recognize that, accept it and do something about it."
The "Support for Student Veterans with Family Acts" would create a program through the Department of Veterans affairs to offer grants to colleges and universities to fund child care services for veterans on campus. The money could be used to build new facilities, expand class sizes or even provide direct aid to veterans shopping for child care, Titus said.
Funding the program could prove an insurmountable challenge in a Congress gridlocked by partisanship. Titus said she didn't want existing funding for GI benefits being diverted to support the new program.
But she was optimistic the bill could find bipartisan support because it deals with veteran and family issues.
UNLV has more than 950 students enrolled using the GI bill. Statewide, there are about 22,000 female veterans, Titus said.
UNLV has already taken steps to make itself more veteran friendly by offering in-state tuition to all honorably discharged servicemembers and creating specialized programs like the "Troops to Teachers" initiative.
"It is our obligation as a state...to give back to you," Board of Regents Chairman Rick Trachok told veterans in the crowd.