U.S. veterans and soldiers legislation

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Summary (how summaries work)

This article covers legislation in the U.S. Congress affecting both veterans and active members of the armed services.



Contents

110th Congress

Senate

Wounded Warriors Act

The Wounded Warriors Act, S.713, was introduced by Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) on February 28, 2007. The bill would mandate standards of care and facilities for wounded soldiers. It would create a congressionally appointed Wounded Warrior Oversight Board, a 24-hour bilingual hotline, employment protections for caregiver family members and a zero-tolerance for pest infestations at recovery facilities. The bill was introduced in the wake of public furor over a series in the Washington Post detailing squalid conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.[1]


On July 25, 2007, the Senate voted unanimously to pass the Wounded Warriors Act. Before passage, Republicans sought to add a 3.5 percent pay increase to the bill, a raise originally aimed to be part of the delayed defense authorization bill. The Democrats had hoped to keep the pay raise in the defense bill to help it avoid a Presidential veto.[2]

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a statement, "Just as treating our Wounded Warriors is of urgent importance, so is passing this pay raise before the Senate moves on to the defense appropriations bill."[3]

House

Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act

As a result of mental illness following service in wars, suicide rates among veterans have often been high. On March 21, 2007, the House considered a bill, introduced by Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa), to address this problem. Specifically, the bill would require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to [4]:

  • Provide screening for risk factors of suicide, track veterans at risk, counsel and treat them and provide for referral for counseling and treatment. Counselors would be expected to work with local emergency rooms and police, mental health organizations and veterans services organizations to engage in outreach. Mental health care would be provided on a 24-hour basis and a hotline would need to be established and implemented. [5]
  • Provide research and mental health care for veterans who have experienced sexual trauma while in the military. [6]
  • Make an effort to remove the stigma associated with mental illness, encourage veterans to seek treatment and assistance for mental illness, promote skills for coping with mental illness, and help families with veterans understand the issues of assimilating to civilian life after war. [7]


The bill passed 423-0.


Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2007

On March 21, 2007, the House considered a bill to raise compensation rates for veterans with service-connected disabilities, as well as the rates determining dependency and indemnity compensation for survivors of some disabled veterans. Clothing allowance increases would also be included. The scope of the rate increases were not specified in the bill; rather, it authorized the Department of Veterans Affairs to institute and publish the enhanced rate increases in the near future. [8]


The bill, sponsored by Rep. John Hall (D-N.Y), passed 418-0.


Dr. James Allen Veteran Vision Equity Act

On March 21, 2007, the House considered a bill which would amend existing law to improve compensation benefits for veterans in certain cases of vision impairment. Specifically, it would offer:

  • Veterans suffering eyesight loss in the range of 20/200 or less, or loss of peripheral field loss of 20 degrees or less, enhanced disability compensation.

The Secretary of Veterans Affairs would be required to match listings on the National Directory of New Hires with that of the Secretary of Health and Human Services to determine individuals under age 65 who are eligible for the benefits.


The bill, sponsored by Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), passed 424-0.


Traumatic Brain Injury Health Enhancement and Long-Term Support Act of 2007

On May 23, 2007, the House considered the Traumatic Brain Injury Health Enhancement and Long-Term Support Act of 2007 (H.R.2199), which would direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to provide certain improvements in the treatment of individuals with traumatic brain injuries.[9]

Specifically, the bill would call for the following:

  • The Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs shall establish a program to screen veterans eligible for hospital care, medical services and nursing home care for symptoms of traumatic brain injury.
  • Within a year, the Secretary must submit a report to Congress on the number of veterans screened under the program, the prevalence of traumatic brain injury symptoms among those screened and recommendations for improving care and services to veterans exhibiting symptoms of traumatic brain injury.
  • The program is to be long-term for post-acute traumatic brain injury rehabilitation to include residential, community and home-based treatment components. The activities will center on the establishment of up to five geographically dispersed polytrauma network centers. The centers will conduct research on traumatic brain injury care, provide education and training and develop and improve models and systems for furnishing the care. The development of innovative clinical activities is required.
  • The program is available to veterans who served on active duty in a theater or combat operations during a period of war after the Persian Gulf War or in combat against a hostile force during a period of hostilities after November 11, 1998. The veteran must be diagnosed as suffering from moderate to severe traumatic brain injury and is unable to manage routine activities of daily living without supervision or assistance.
  • Outreach with care services to rural veterans would be met with a three year pilot program funded at $7.5 million for FY 2008. Two mobile Vet Centers would be established in Veteran Integrated Service Networks 1, 16, 19, 20 and 23. An advisory committee is also established to oversee outreach and programs for rural veterans.[10]


The bill, sponsored by Rep. Michael Michaud (D-Maine), passed 421-0.[11]


Chiropractic Care Available to All Veterans Act

On May 23, the House considered the Chiropractic Care Available to All Veterans Act (H.R.1470), which would amend the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care Programs Enhancement Act of 2001 to require the provision of chiropractic care and services to veterans at all Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers by 2011.[12]


The bill, sponsored by Rep. Bob Filner (D-Calif.), passed 421-1.


Early Access to Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Benefits Act

On May 23, 2007, the House considered the Early Access to Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Benefits Act (H.R.2239), which would expand eligibility for vocational rehabilitation benefits administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to all of those veterans who have suffered a permanent disability in the line of duty.[13]


The bill, sponsored by Rep. John Boozman (R-Ark.), passed 414-0.[14]


Veterans Outreach Improvement Act of 2007

On May 23, 2007, the House considered the Veterans Outreach Improvement Act of 2007, which sought to expand the outreach activities of the Department of Veterans Affairs.[15]

The bill would establish a coordination program between government agencies with the purpose of improving outreach from the Department of Veteran’s Affairs to veterans, their spouses and children and parents. The Office of Public Affairs, the Veterans Health Administration, the Veterans Benefits Administration, and the National Cemetery Administration would assure that recipients are fully informed about and assisted in applying for any veterans’ and veterans’-related benefits and programs for which they may be eligible.[16]


The bill, sponsored by Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.), passed 421-0.[17]


Returning Servicemember VA Healthcare Insurance Act of 2007

On May 23, 2007, the House considered the Returning Servicemember VA Healthcare Insurance Act of 2007 (H.R.612), which would extend the period of eligibility for health care for combat service in the Persian Gulf War or future hostilities from two years to five years after discharge or release.[18]


The bill, sponsored by Rep. Bob Filner (D-Calif.), passed 419-0.[19]


SBA Veterans' Programs Act of 2007

On June 18, 2007, the House considered the SBA Veterans' Programs Act of 2007. The bill would:

  • Direct the Associate Administrator to increase veteran outreach by ensuring that the Veteran Business Outreach Centers regularly participate, nationwide, in workshops of the Transition Assistance Program of the Department of Labor. A center could provide grants to eligible entities located in TAP locations to make presentations on the opportunities available from the DBA for recently separated veterans to include business training resources from the SBA. A report on the implementation to Congress would be required.[20]
  • Establish a Women’s Veterans Business Training Resource Program to compile information on resources available to women veterans for business training, including vocational and technical educations, general business skills such as marketing and accounting and advertising, and accounting. An assistance program for women veterans would be included.[21]
  • Allow a Business Development Center to apply for grants to carry out veterans assistance and services programs. The Centers would create a marketing campaign to promote awareness and education of services available at the Center. The campaign would target veterans, disabled veterans, military units, federal agencies and veteran’s organizations. Technology-assisted online counseling and distance learning technology would be available and coordination with organizations that assist veterans would be incorporated into a one-stop pint of contact for veterans who are entrepreneurs or small business owners.[22]
  • Expand veteran’s business outreach centers by at least two for both FY 2008 and 2009 and by a number considered appropriate by the administrator for each additional fiscal year. The Administrator would produce a study to identify gaps that exist as to informed decisions on funding and allocation of resources in the availability of Veterans Business Outreach Centers.[23]


The bill, sponsored by Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), passed in the House by a voice vote.[24]

2008 G.I. bill for expanded education assistance

Summary (how summaries work)
Originally introduced in the House (H.R. 5740), the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008 is legislation reforming the military's education assistance program for veterans. Supports have said the bill aims to fill gaps in the program, by including veterans who served in the National Guard and Reserves. In addition, it would roughly double the benefit provided to veterans. In May, 2008, Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives included the bill as an amendment to an appropriations act (H.R. 2642).
Main article: 2008 G.I. Bill


Articles and resources

See also

References

  1. Lois Romano, "War Debate Keeps the House's Only Iraq Veteran Front and Center," Washington Post, March 1, 2007.
  2. Elana Schor. "Dems score win as vets, military pay measure passes," The Hill. July 26, 2007.
  3. Elana Schor. "Dems score win as vets, military pay measure passes," The Hill. July 26, 2007.
  4. Robert McElroy, "Managing America: Military," TheWeekInCongress, March 22, 2007.
  5. Robert McElroy, "Managing America: Military," TheWeekInCongress, March 22, 2007.
  6. Robert McElroy, "Managing America: Military," TheWeekInCongress, March 22, 2007.
  7. Robert McElroy, "Managing America: Military," TheWeekInCongress, March 22, 2007.
  8. Robert McElroy, "Managing America: Military," TheWeekInCongress, March 22, 2007.
  9. Robert McElroy, "Managing America: Veteran Affairs," TheWeekInCongress, May 25, 2007.
  10. Robert McElroy, "Managing America: Veteran Affairs," TheWeekInCongress, May 25, 2007.
  11. Robert McElroy, "Managing America: Veteran Affairs," TheWeekInCongress, May 25, 2007.
  12. Robert McElroy, "Managing America: Veteran Affairs," TheWeekInCongress, May 25, 2007.
  13. Robert McElroy, "Managing America: Veteran Affairs," TheWeekInCongress, May 25, 2007.
  14. Robert McElroy, "Managing America: Veteran Affairs," TheWeekInCongress, May 25, 2007.
  15. Robert McElroy, "Managing America: Veteran Affairs," TheWeekInCongress, May 25, 2007.
  16. Robert McElroy, "Managing America: Veteran Affairs," TheWeekInCongress, May 25, 2007.
  17. Robert McElroy, "Managing America: Veteran Affairs," TheWeekInCongress, May 25, 2007.
  18. Robert McElroy, "Managing America: Veteran Affairs," TheWeekInCongress, May 25, 2007.
  19. Robert McElroy, "Managing America: Veteran Affairs," TheWeekInCongress, May 25, 2007.
  20. Robert McElroy, "Managing America: Small Business," TheWeekInCongress, June 22, 2007.
  21. Robert McElroy, "Managing America: Small Business," TheWeekInCongress, June 22, 2007.
  22. Robert McElroy, "Managing America: Small Business," TheWeekInCongress, June 22, 2007.
  23. Robert McElroy, "Managing America: Small Business," TheWeekInCongress, June 22, 2007.
  24. Robert McElroy, "Managing America: Small Business," TheWeekInCongress, June 22, 2007.

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