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Veterans Benefits Act of 2010 Sent to President's Desk

Published: 2010-10-01
Author: House Committee on Veterans Affairs

Synopsis: House passes legislation to enhance expand and modernize benefits for veterans.

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House passes legislation to enhance, expand and modernize benefits for veterans.

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House Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Bob Filner (D-CA) announced that the U.S. House of Representatives voted to approve H.R. 3219, the Veterans' Benefits Act of 2010. Amended and approved by the Senate earlier in the week, today's House action sends the bill to President Obama for his signature. The legislation improves and modernizes certain benefits administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for veterans and their families.

Chairman Filner said, "H.R. 3219 is the result of numerous productive hearings and markups, meaningful oversight and bi-partisan compromise - all to ensure that those who were willing to lay down their lives for our country and their families and survivors, receive meaningful, world-class, 21st Century benefits. This bill will make a big difference in the lives of many of America's brave veterans."

H.R. 3219, as amended - The Veterans' Benefits Act of 2010

Enhances Employment Opportunities

Reauthorize the recently expired VA work-study program and expand the type of work available for participating veterans. The extension allows for veteran students to complete work study in congressional offices, state veteran agencies, or any position working jointly between the VA and an institution of higher learning.

Require the Secretary of the VA to verify small business ownership and operate a database of veteran-owned small businesses and service-connected veteran-owned small business in an effort to end contracting with businesses that fraudulently claim to be owned by a veteran.

Increase job opportunities for veterans by reimbursing energy employers for the cost of providing on-the-job training for veterans in the energy sector. Specifically, the bill would create the pilot "Veterans Energy Related Employment Program" which would award competitive grants to three states that are able to serve a population of eligible veterans, boast a diverse energy industry, and have the ability to carry out such a training program.

Prevents Homeless Veterans

Reauthorize the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program for fiscal years 2010 through 2014

Authorize an additional $10 million to provide dedicated services for homeless women veterans and homeless veterans with children. Grants would be made available to provide job training, counseling, placement services, and child care services to expedite the reintegration of veterans into the labor force.

Ensures the Welfare of Veterans and Their Families by Increasing Insurance Limits

Increase many of the outdated insurance policy amounts and terms for our veterans, many who are severely disabled or have suffered traumatic injury.

Increase the maximum loan guarantee amount under the Veterans' Mortgage Life Insurance program.

Allow totally disabled veterans to receive free Service-members' Group Life Insurance coverage for two years following separation from active or reserve duty.

Gold Star Wives Government Relations Committee Co-Chair Kathryn A. Witt provided the following support for the insurance provisions in the bill: "Gold Star Wives of America, Inc. is happy to support the Veterans' Benefits Act of 2010, H.R. 3912.... Section 401 increases the amount of supplemental life insurance available to totally disabled veterans to $30,000. This is a much needed increase in this insurance benefit."

Secures Compensation, Pensions and Other Benefits Increase the number of veterans to receive independent assisted living services and the quality of those benefits. Provide greater automobile and adaptive equipment to veterans with severe burn injuries. Increase the automobile allowance for disabled veterans from $11,000 to $18,900. Allow low income veterans currently receiving a VA pension to receive payments of up to $5,000 from state or municipalities without offsetting the pension benefit.

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) offered the following statement: "Included in this legislation is language I introduced as the Veterans Pensions Protection Act which reverses existing policies that limit veterans from receiving their full benefits offered by state and local governments and makes it easier for our combat veterans to receive the benefits they deserve."

Paralyzed Veterans of America National Legislative Director Carl Blake offered support for the bill: "The increase in the cap for Independent Living services administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Vocational Rehabilitation program will prove beneficial to the most severely disabled veterans who simply want to become productive members of society. Once again, we thank the Committee for it continued emphasis on improving benefits for severely disabled veterans and their families." Protects Service Members Called to Combat Allow the U.S. Office of Special Counsel to receive and investigate certain Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act claims. The provision builds on OSC's extensive expertise and experience in investigating and resolving federal employment claims and will go a long way in protecting veterans who file USERRA complaints as a result of their service in the Armed Forces, National Guard, and Reserves. For three years, a random selection of claims will be sent directly to the OSC to be resolved. Prohibit early termination fees for certain contracts like cell phone service and residential leases after service members receive notice of military orders to relocate to a site that does not support the contract. Allow the Attorney General to bring a civil suit against any violator of the Service-members Civil Relief Act, which provides a wide range of protections for service members.

Honors Fallen Service Members and Their Families Allow a parent whose child gave their life in service to our country to be buried in a national cemetery with that child when their veteran child has no living spouse or children. Increase burial and funeral benefits and plot allowances for veterans who are eligible for a burial at a national cemetery or who died in a VA facility from $300 to $700.

Congresswoman Shelley Berkley (D-NV), long a champion of increasing funeral benefits and plot allowances to reflect modern costs, offered the following statement: "Veterans deserve to be laid to rest with full recognition of their military service and by increasing these benefits, we can defray costs for families who might otherwise be unable to cover such an expense. This legislation increases payments so that veterans and their loved ones can have peace of mind when planning for their final arrangements. Veterans who proudly served our nation are entitled to benefit payments to help cover the cost of their final arrangements. But over time, inflation has eroded the purchasing power of these payments, leaving it to families and states to cover any extra costs."

Strengthens Education Benefits Extend the life of the Veterans' Advisory Committee on Education, a committee that offers short and long term recommendations for improving the educational benefits of veterans. Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick (D-NM) offered this statement explaining the need for the Advisory Committee on Education: "Our service members should have access to a first-rate education that will prepare them to excel in new jobs once they leave the military. The expertise and insight of this advisory committee help our fighting men and women get the opportunities they have earned. The new G.I. Bill marks a great victory for our Veterans, but passing that legislation is just part of repaying the debt we owe them. The next step is ensuring that these benefits work for our Veterans, and this committee is a valuable tool in that effort." Addresses Housing Needs of Disabled Veterans Authorize the Secretary of the VA to make grants of up to $200,000 per year to recipients that develop assistive technologies for use in specially adaptive housing

In a letter to Chairman Filner, Disabled American Veterans (DAV) National Legislative Director Joe Violante wrote, "Overall, the 'Veterans Benefits Act of 2010' makes important improvements to an array of federal benefits that help to compensate and support veterans transitioning back to into civilian life, especially those who return with disabilities from their service. DAV supports approval of this legislation..."

Invests in Research for Gulf War Veterans Allow the Institute of Medicine to carry out a comprehensive review of best treatment practices for chronic multi-symptom illness in Gulf War veterans and develop a plan for dissemination of best practices through VA. Extend the review and evaluation of chronic multi-symptom illness by the National Academy of Sciences of veterans of the Persian Gulf War and Post-9/11 Global Operations.

Chairman Filner concluded: "This Congress has been extraordinarily productive for America's veterans. Speaker Pelosi's strong leadership has been critical as this Congress passed caregiver legislation, approved advance appropriations for veterans' health care, raised the VA budget to adequately care for veterans during wartime, and passed a G.I. Bill for the 21st Century. I am privileged to work with the Members of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee who set an aggressive agenda and stood together to ensure that the cost of the war includes the cost of the warrior. They have truly shown love and compassion to America's veterans evidenced by their hard work to keep the promises made to our Nation's heroes of the past, present, and future."

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Cite This Page (APA): House Committee on Veterans Affairs. (2010, October 1). Veterans Benefits Act of 2010 Sent to President's Desk. Disabled World. Retrieved September 26, 2021 from www.disabled-world.com/news/veterans/benefits-act-2010.php