Our nation’s veterans have earned the very best care our country has to offer. Sadly, as a veteran myself, I’ve seen firsthand how often the government fails our veterans. We can and must do better.
This week, in recognition of Veteran’s Day, the House passed 15 bills that will honor our veterans while improving care for them and their families.
I helped introduce one of the bills that passed called the Gold Star Family Support and Installation Act. I have been inspired every day by the Gold Star mothers, wives, husbands, sons and daughters in our community. They mourn, persevere and remember - always. They do not need us to tell them their sons and daughters were patriots, heroes, selfless defenders of our nation. They know the commitment better than any other ever could.
Since World War I, the Gold Star symbol has been used by American families to honor members of the Armed Forces who have given their lives in service to the nation, but the only Gold Star benefit currently defined in law is a lapel pin. We can and must do better!
The Gold Star Family Support and Installation fills in critical gaps in current support laws for Gold Star families by requiring the government provides Gold Star spouses and children with lifetime access to installations so that they can attend events likes memorial services and unit reunions, or receive grief counseling.
Here are the other bills we passed:
H.R. 1066: The VA Management Alignment Act of 2017
The VA Management Alignment Act of 2017 would require VA to submit a report regarding the roles, responsibility, and accountability of elements and individuals of VA, using the findings of the Independent Assessment, the Commission on Care, and relevant GAO reports as resources. Read the bill here.
H.R. 3122: Veterans Care Financial Protection Act of 2017
The Veterans Care Financial Protection Act of 2017 directs the VA to work with federal agencies and states to develop and implement standards that protect individuals who are eligible for this increased pension from dishonest, predatory or otherwise unlawful practices. Read the bill here.
H.R. 3562: To amend title 38, United States Code, to authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to furnish assistance for adaptations of residences of veterans in rehabilitation programs
H.R. 3561 would give VA-designated appraisers the ability to rely solely on information from approved third parties, such as a desktop appraisal, when determining a home’s value for a VA home loan. Read the bill here.
H.R. 3656: To establish a consistent applicability date for provision of memorial headstones and markers for eligible non-veteran individuals
H.R. 3656, introduced by Rep. Jim Banks, would provide a headstone or marker for all eligible non-veterans who die on or after November 11, 1998. Read the bill here.
H.R. 3657: To expand authority to provide headstones and markers to eligible spouses and dependents in tribal veterans cemeteries
H.R. 3657, introduced by Rep. Bruce Poliquin, would authorize VA to provide headstones and markers to eligible spouses and dependents who are buried or interred at tribal veterans cemeteries. Read the bill here.
HR 3705: Veterans Fair Debt Notice Act
The Veterans Fair Debt Notice Act would instruct VA to use plain language in its debt notices to provide a clear explanation of why VA is alleging that the veteran owes such a debt. Read the bill here.
H.R. 4173: The Veterans Crisis Line Study Act of 2017
The Veterans Crisis Line Study Act of 2017 would require VA to conduct a study on the outcomes and efficacy of the Veterans Crisis Line based on an analysis of national suicide data and data collected from the VCL. Read the bill here.
H.R. 918: The Veteran Urgent Access to Mental Healthcare Act
The Veteran Urgent Access to Mental Healthcare Act would require VA to provide an initial mental health assessment and any subsequent mental health services required to meet urgent mental health care needs to former service members who would otherwise be ineligible for such services because they were discharged from military service under OTH conditions. Read the bill here.
H.R. 1133: Veterans Transplant Coverage Act
The Veterans Transplant Coverage Act would authorize VA to provide all care and services needed for a veteran to receive an organ transplant from a live donor, regardless of whether the donor is eligible for VA health care or whether the health care facility is part of the VA. Read the bill here.
H.R. 1900: National Veterans Memorial and Museum Act
The National Veterans Memorial and Museum Act would designate the Veterans Memorial and Museum in Columbus, Ohio, as the National Veterans Memorial and Museum. Read the bill here.
H.R. 2123: Veterans E-Health and Telemedicine Support Act (VETS) Act of 2017
The VETS Act would give the VA Secretary the legislative authority to allow VA providers to practice telemedicine across state lines. Read the bill here.
H.R. 2601: Veterans Increased Choice for Transplanted Organs and Recovery (VICTOR) Act
The Veterans Increased Choice for Transplanted Organs and Recovery (VICTOR) Act will increase access to care in community transplant centers through the Choice program. Read the bill here.
HR 3634: The Securing Electronic Records for Veterans Ease (SERVE) Act of 2017
The SERVE Act of 2017 would make BAH documentation available online to all veterans, which would help confirm a veteran’s monthly housing stipend and simplify their home or apartment rental process. Read the bill here.
H.R. 3949: Veteran Apprenticeship and Labor Opportunity Reform (VALOR) Act
The VALOR Act would simplify an approval process by allowing companies to register their apprenticeship programs with one central approval agency. Read the bill here.