Cost-of-living hike for veterans approved

The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill July 9 that would provide a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) of 1.9 percent for veterans who receive disability benefits. H.R. 4114, the Veterans Compensation Cost of Living Act of 2012, would make the COLA increase effective on Dec. 1 of this year.

Last March, The American Legion testified in favor of the bill at a hearing before the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Disability and Memorial Affairs. During that testimony, the Legion said it supported a COLA increase for veterans this year, "as we have each year it has been passed before. We must ensure veterans are getting some relief from rising costs. However, before long-term measures are considered, we urge Congress to reflect on the unique considerations those disabled in our nation’s service merit."

By resolution of its membership, the Legion has opposed an automatic, direct correlation of veterans’ COLA to Social Security benefits because of concerns that a direct correlation would not take into account individual requirements of veterans.

"Such a correlation would also leave veterans more vulnerable to political maneuvering and budgetary legerdemain directed at overall cost-cutting," the Legion testified. "Veterans have earned, through their sacrifice, unique consideration."

H.R. 4114 was introduced last February by Rep. Jon Runyan, R-N.J., and passed the House by a voice vote.