Faso Praises Veterans Bills Passed in Congress

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Washington, D.C., August 4, 2017 | comments

Kinderhook, NY – Congressman John Faso (R-Kinderhook) today praised the U.S. Senate’s passage of two critical pieces of bipartisan veterans legislation that previously passed in the House.

“Last night the Senate moved our nation’s veterans’ care a step in the right direction by passing the House-passed legislation, the Veterans Appeal Improvement and Modernization Act and the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act,” said Faso. “The first piece of legislation addresses the VA’s broken appeals process – where there are close to 500,000 appeals pending – to deliver care to veterans who have been waiting far too long, by streamlining the process and allowing veterans to maintain the original claim date.”

Faso continued, “The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act makes much-needed improvements to the post-9/11 GI Bill, including an important expansion of benefits for our veterans pursuing degrees in the STEM field. Upstate New Yorkers understand well the need for more people with this kind of training, and there is no one better to fill this demand than the men and women who have served in our military.”

Veteran and Otsego County Legislator Leonard Carson added, “I cannot overstate the importance of Congressman Faso's consistent support for our veterans through legislation in Congress and in our local communities. John is actively engaged on these issues which have tangible effects on the lives of veterans, and I appreciate his sincere efforts.”

The legislation now awaits the signature of the President. More information on the bills can be found below:

H.R. 2288, The Veterans Appeal Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 (Sponsored by Rep. Mike Bost / Veterans Affairs Committee)

  • Reforms the VA appeals process by giving veterans more options. Specifically, veterans could choose between three options: to waive a hearing and the ability to submit additional evidence, submit additional evidence and have a hearing, or transfer jurisdiction to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.
  • The bill also authorizes the Board to maintain at least two dockets—one specifically for an expedited review for veterans who waive the hearing and chance to submit new evidence.

Additionally, the bill would:

Allow veterans to maintain the original effective date of their claim, as long as the veteran submits new and relevant evidence at least once a year;

Allow certain veterans who have an appeal pending at the VA prior to the bill’s effective date, to opt-in to the new system;

Require the VA to provide a comprehensive plan for processing of legacy appeals and implementing the reform proposal to Congress and GAO within 90 days of enactment;

Require the Secretary to certify that the VA has sufficient resources to carry out the new appeals system and timely address to both new and legacy appeals;

Give the VA the authority to either phase-in the new system or conduct a pilot program of the new system prior to full implementation, and;

Require the VA to submit regular reports to Congress.

For full text of the legislation, click here.

H.R. 3218, Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 (Sponsored by Rep. Phil Roe / Veterans Affairs Committee)

  • Removes time restriction to use the GI bill for future eligible recipients and those who were discharged on or after January 1, 2013;
  • Provides an increase in GI Bill funding for Reservists, Guardsmen, dependents, and surviving spouses and dependents;
  • Provides 100% GI Bill eligibility to Post-9/11 Purple Heart recipients;
  • Provides GI Bill eligibility to Reservists and Guardsmen who are currently being put on active duty and convalescent medical leave orders that do not currently accrue GI Bill eligibility;
  • Provides an extra academic years’ worth of Post-9/11benefits for over 3,300 veterans (per year) to help them finish a STEM degree;
  • Create a pilot program that would pay for veterans to take certain high technology courses (coding boot camps, IT certifications, etc.) and provide living stipends;
  • Make it easier and cheaper for veterans to use their GI Bill to take national test or licensing and credentialing tests;
  • Restore eligibility for servicemembers whose school closes in the middle of a semester (ex. ITT tech and Corinthian);
  • Authorize funding for IT improvements to ensure that GI Bill claims are processed quickly and accurately.
For full text of the legislation, click here.
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