House approves Legion-supported bills

House approves Legion-supported bills

The House of Representatives passed a series of bills Monday and Tuesday that would improve the lives of veterans and servicemembers. The American Legion provided statements for the record supporting three of these bills and backs the fourth but is seeking to increase the benefits provided.

“This legislative action demonstrates a significant step forward in providing the care our veterans need and deserve through their selfless service,” said American Legion National Legislative Chairman Patricia Harris of North Carolina.

The bills are:

House bill 3722, sponsored by Rep. Zachary Nunn, R-Iowa, is the Daniel J. Harvey Jr. and Adam Lambert Improving Servicemember Transition to Reduce Veteran Suicide Act. The legislation requires the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to jointly carry out a five-year pilot program to reduce suicide among veterans. The program would assess the feasibility and advisability of providing certain services and a module comprised of specified elements as part of the transition process.

House bill 5914, sponsored by Rep. Derrick Van Orden, R-Wisconsin, is the Veterans Education Transparency and Training Act. The legislation would amend Title 38 of the United States Code to improve the processes related to VA educational assistance programs.

House bill 1767, sponsored by Rep. Delia Ramirez, D-Illinois. It would amend Title 38 of the United States Code to restore the GI Bill for veterans who were defrauded. The American Legion supports this legislation but is working to expand the benefits before the Senate votes.

House bill 3738, sponsored by Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio. It would amend Title 38 of the United States Code to compel the Veterans Economic Opportunity and Transition Administration to administer economic opportunity assistance programs for veterans, and their dependents and survivors. Specifically, this relates to the following VA initiatives: vocational rehabilitation and employment programs; educational assistance programs; veterans' housing loan and related programs; and the Transition Assistance Program.

Harris expressed appreciation to House Committee on Veterans' Affairs Chairman Mike Bost, R-Illinois, and Ranking Member Mark Takano, D-California, for their leadership on these bills.

“We look forward to our lawmakers continuing to demonstrate strong bipartisan support that will benefit our nation’s veterans, especially when it comes to reducing the rate of suicide,” she said. “I fully support the restoration of the GI Bill benefits for those who defaulted, particularly due to economic hardships. The inclusion of the Veterans Economic Opportunity and TAP assistance programs demonstrates that efforts are being made to support veterans, their families and survivors. It is a positive sign that America values the service provided to protect our nation. I am hopeful that these bills will be implemented promptly to provide much-needed relief for those who have served.”

The bills now move on to the Senate for consideration.