President Biden signed nine bills that improve health care for veterans during a White House ceremony June 7 attended by staff members of The American Legion’s Washington, D.C., office.
Among the goals Biden laid out in his Unity Agenda during his first State of the Union address is supporting the nation’s veterans.
“Today, our administration is delivering on that agenda,” the president said. “In just a moment, I’ll be signing nine different bills with overwhelming bipartisan support that improve care for our veterans and honor their service and their sacrifice.”
The legislation calls for expanding veterans' access to lifesaving breast cancer screenings and care, strengthening oversight by temporarily authorizes the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Office of Inspector General to issue subpoenas in certain circumstances, extending a program to compensate World War II veterans exposed to radiation and awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to Army Rangers of World War II.
The Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas Supporting Expanded Review for Veterans in Combat Environments Act expands eligibility for Veterans Health Administration mammography screenings to veterans who served in certain locations during specified periods, including those who were exposed to toxic substances.
The bill is named in honor of Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas, a Marine Corps veteran. In 2018, Thomas was diagnosed with three different types of stage 4 breast cancer believed to have been caused by burn pit exposure during her service in Iraq. Following her diagnosis, Thomas fought not only her own health care, but became a champion advocate for veterans suffering from illnesses caused by toxic exposures.
Thomas passed away on April 5, 2022, leaving behind a husband and young son. She was 42 years old.
The other bills, the president said, focus on the success of a veterans’ future.
“We’re going to strengthen the oversight of the VA’s activities so veterans get the care they deserve, and restoring educational assistance benefits so veterans displaced by COVID-19 can continue to gain new skills to meet the demands of a changing workforce.
“We can never fully repay the debt to all of you. But I promise that my administration will always have your back. I made that commitment when I ran, and I commit that now. And the men and women sitting before me made a similar commitment. We mean it.”
The nine bills signed into law are:
• S.4119 - RECA Extension Act of 2022.
• S. 4089 - Veterans Rapid Retraining Assistance Program Restoration and Recovery Act of 2022.
• S. 3527 - A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to transfer the name of property of the Department of Veterans Affairs designated by law to other property of the Department..
• S. 2687 - Strengthening Oversight for Veterans Act of 2021.
• S. 2533 - Making Advances in Mammography and Medical Options for Veterans Act.
• S. 2514 - A bill to rename the Provo Veterans Center in Orem, Utah, as the "Col. Gail S. Halvorsen 'Candy Bomber' Veterans Center."
• S. 2102 - Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas Supporting Expanded Review for Veterans In Combat Environments Act.
• S. 1872 - United States Army Rangers Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act.
• S. 1760 - A bill to designate the community-based outpatient clinic of the Department of Veterans Affairs planned to be built in Oahu, Hawaii, as the "Daniel Kahikina Akaka Department of Veterans Affairs Community-Based Outpatient Clinic."