On May 23, 2007, the House passed 6 bills to support our veterans and honor their sacrifices, providing them with expanded health care and the benefits they deserve.
- The Veterans Outreach and Improvement Act of 2007, H.R. 67, would improve outreach activities of the Department of Veterans Affairs. It allows the VA to partner with state and local governments to reach out to veterans and their families in ensuring they receive the benefits for which they are eligible and assist them in completing their benefits claims. Federal grants would be directed to states with large and growing populations of veterans, and is another step in fulfilling our promises in the GI Bill of Rights for the 21st Century.
- The Returning Servicemember VA Healthcare Insurance Act of 2007, H.R. 612, extends the period of eligibility for health care for combat service in the Persian Gulf or future hostilities from two years to five years after discharge or release. The bill is meant to address mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, which may not be evident right after a veteran's discharge from service. This will also provide veterans who might be denied health care due to the Bush Administration enrollment ban policy, an additional period of time to gain access to VA health care.
- The Traumatic Brain Injury Health Enhancement and Long-Term Support Act of 2007, H.R. 2199, ensures that our veterans are properly screened for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI, the signature injury of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan) and, if diagnosed, receive the appropriate treatment. More than half of combat casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan have associated brain injuries, often due to improvised explosive devices. The bill:
- Requires screening of veterans for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
- Establishes a comprehensive program for long-term TBI rehabilitation to be located at four geographically dispersed locations
- Creates TBI transition offices at each of the polytrauma network sites
- Requires the development of a TBI registry
- Authorizes funds for the establishment of centers for TBI research, education, and clinical activities
- Forms the Committee on Care of Veterans with TBI.
In addition to the TBI provisions, H.R. 2199 also creates a pilot program for an innovative system for delivering readjustment counseling, mental health services and benefits outreach to rural veterans through mobile Vet Centers. It also creates an Advisory Committee on Rural Veterans.
- The Early Access to Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Benefits Act, H.R. 2239, expands eligibility for vocational rehabilitation benefits for severely injured service members undergoing long-term care and recovery. It makes it easier for injured veterans with service-connected disabilities by allowing the Veterans' Administration's vocational rehabilitation and employment (VR&E) benefits to be received before discharge.
Under current law, the VA is not permitted to provide VR&E benefits until after a service member is discharged from Armed Forces. This legislation would allow the benefits to begin for any member of the Armed Forces who is hospitalized or receiving outpatient medical care, services or treatment, as long as he or she is determined to have service-connected disabilities that are likely to lead to their discharge or release from the Armed Forces.
- The Chiropractic Care Available to All Veterans Act, H.R. 1470, requires the provision of chiropractic care and services to veterans at all Department of Veterans Affairs medical center
- H.R. 1660 would direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a national cemetery for veterans in the Southern Colorado region. The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that there are approximately 150,000 veterans in Southern Colorado, and for years veterans groups have listed adding a cemetery there among their top priorities.