News from Capitol Hill

On Jan. 28, the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee approved comprehensive legislation to respond to potential environmental hazard exposures on military installations, expand efforts to reduce veteran homelessness and strengthen VA health care.

An original bill entitled Examination of Exposure to Environmental Hazards During Military Service and Health Care for Camp Lejeune and Atsugi Naval Air Facility Veterans and Their Families Act of 2010:

Provides health care for troops, veterans and dependents with potential exposures from Camp Lejeune and Atsugi Naval Air Facility;

Creates a VA/DOD-joint Advisory Panel to study potential troop, veteran and dependent exposure to environmental hazards on military installations, and

Requires an annual report to monitor the recommendations of the advisory board, including information on individuals receiving care and benefits under the act.

S. 1237, Homeless Veterans and Other Health Care Authorities Act of 2010:

Expands and creates programs to reduce veterans' homelessness at the local, state and national level;

Automatically enrolls eligible demobilizing Guard and reserve units into VA health and dental care;

Increases transparency within VA health care by establishing a VA Medical Center Report Card; and

Extends health-care eligibility for Gulf War veterans until 2012, including those exposed to sodium dichromate at Qarmat Ali.

On Jan. 28, the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee approved the nomination of Dr. Raul Perea-Henze to be VA's assistant secretary for policy and planning.