VA Bill Approved

President Obama approved the highly anticipated Veteran Benefits Act of 2010, or H.R. 3219.  The bill was sent a couple of weeks ago to the President for review.

The law will improve and update current benefits provided through the VA including education, pension, and insurance, according to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.

In addition, the VA bill will tackle the issue of homelessness in the Veteran community, a growing problem, through new employment opportunities and preventative measures.  The Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program, a program that guides homeless veterans back into the labor force, will be reauthorized throughout 2011.  $1 million will be awarded to programs or services that cater to homeless women veterans and homeless veterans with children. The grant will give way to job training, counseling and childcare service opportunities.

The H.R. 3219 includes the following changes in detail:

  • VA work-study program will be reinitiated.
  • Amounts of outdated insurance policies will be increased.
  • The maximum loan guarantee amount under the Veterans’ Mortgage Life Insurance program will be increased.
  • Automobile assistance for disabled veterans will rise from $11,000 to $18,900.
  • Clarifies that the Uniformed Service Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) prohibits wage discrimination against members of the Armed Forces. USERRA protects veterans from losing a job based on extended leave and scheduling conflicts.
  • Allow totally disabled veterans to receive free Service Members’ Group Life Insurance coverage for two years following separation from active or reserve duty.

In response to the White House’s decision, House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Bob Filner (D-CA) said, “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.”

Photo thanks to JMT Images under creative common license on Flickr.

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