Standing By Veterans
We have an obligation to care for and honor America’s servicemen and women, their families, and our veterans for their bravery and service to the United States. For these reasons, Congress has taken bold action to make investments for our troops and their families. This includes, new benefits to the nation's veterans and their support systems at home.
Read a progress report on the historic gains for troops, veterans, and military families here.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, signed into law in February 2009, makes key investments for our veterans. It provides incentives for businesses to hire recently discharged unemployed veterans, and expands housing assistance for disabled veterans. The legislation addresses deficiencies at aging military hospitals and VA hospitals and improves claims and benefits processing. It also invests in housing for troops and families, supports reservists in the National Guard, provides assistance to military homeowners, and funds warrior transition complexes to provide services to wounded warriors and their families.
New GI Bill for Veterans
Last year, Congress enacted the new GI Bill for the 21st Century (the "Post-9/11 GI Bill") to restore the promise of a full, four-year college education for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. The Post 9-11 GI Bill provides financial support for education and housing to individuals with at least 90 days of aggregate service on or after September 11, 2001, or individuals discharged with a service-connected disability after 30 days. On May 1st, 2009 veterans began to apply for a certificate of eligibility for the new college benefits. For more information on how to access these benefits, please visit the Department of Veterans Affairs website here.
Investments for Returning Troops
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act: Creating Jobs & Improving Quality of Life for Our Troops and Veterans
This legislation identifies and funds some of the most pressing infrastructure needs of the military and VA. Funding these infrastructure projects supports our troops and veterans at home. This legislation also includes other key provisions – including giving businesses tax credits for hiring unemployed veterans and providing disabled veterans a payment of $250. It also includes other provisions to improve the lives of our troops and veterans, such as funding additional child care centers and warrior transition centers for wounded warriors returning from combat.
Improving the Quality of Life for Our Troops
Renovating and Making More Energy-Efficient DOD Facilities: Provides $4.2 billion to invest in energy efficient projects and to repair and modernize a variety of Department of Defense facilities.
Improving the Hospitals for Our Troops: Provides $1.3 billion for rebuild and renovate our aging military hospitals and ambulatory care centers. Many of these facilities are 40 or even 50 years old, and are not suited to current medical standards and practices.
Providing Assistance to Military Homeowners: Provides $555 million for assistance to military homeowners, including wounded warriors and surviving spouses, who have been impacted by the housing crisis.
Improving Troop and Family Housing: Provides $335 million to build new barracks and dormitories for our soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen as well as to make further investments in quality family housing for military families.
Expanding Child Care for Military Families: Provides $240 million for new child development centers on military bases across the country. These facilities will help military spouses hold down jobs and will provide employment opportunities for caregivers.
Establishing Warrior Transition Complexes: Provides $100 million for warrior transition complexes to provide services to wounded warriors returning from combat and their families.
Constructing Needed Facilities for the National Guard: Provides $100 million for new construction of operations and training facilities to support National Guard units across the country.
Improving the Quality of Life for Our Veterans
Providing Businesses A Tax Credit for Hiring Unemployed Veterans: Provides a tax credit to businesses for hiring unemployed veterans. Specifically, veterans would qualify if they were discharged or released from active duty from the Armed Forces during the previous five years and received unemployment benefits for more than 4 weeks before being hired.
Providing Disabled Veterans A Payment of $250: Provides a payment of $250 to all disabled veterans receiving benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. (This $250 payment, which also goes to retirees, SSI beneficiaries and Railroad Retirement beneficiaries, is targeted to those who are likely not to benefit from the Making Work Pay tax credit.)
Improving the Hospitals for Our Veterans: Provides $1 billion for non-recurring maintenance, including energy efficiency projects, to address deficiencies and avoid serious maintenance problems at the 153 VA hospitals across the country.
Increasing the Number of VA Claims Processors: Provides $150 million for an increase in VA claims processing staff, in order to address the large backlog in processing veterans’ claims. This backlog has been a key complaint of veterans across the country.
Improving Automation of VA Benefit Processing: Provides $50 million to improve the automation of the processing of veterans’ benefits, to get benefits out sooner and more accurately.
Constructing Extended Care Facilities for Veterans: Provides $150 million for state grants for the construction of additional extended care facilities for veterans.
Standing By Caregivers
Supporting our troops means supporting the people who care for them when they come home. Caregivers make sacrifices everyday to support their brave loved ones who served our country. This is why in April 2010, the House and Senate passed the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act, to help millions of veterans and their families receive better support from the VA and financial assistance for the care they provide.
This landmark legislation will provide support services to family and other caregivers of all veterans, including stipends for caregivers living with severely wounded veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. If signed into law by the President, this legislation would be a landmark investment in veteran caregiver assistance and support.
The measure creates two distinct caregiver programs within the Department of Veteran Affairs, one for all caregivers and one specifically designed for those supporting Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. Caregivers are defined as family members of veterans or non-family members who live with a veteran. Training, education, counseling, mental health services, lodging, financial assistance and subsistence payments for accompanying veterans on medical care visits will be provided to qualifying caregivers under this bill.
In addition, caregivers would be provided health care services through the Civilian Health and Medical Program (CHAMPVA) of the Department of Veterans Affairs. To learn more about this legislation, please visit here.
State & Local VA Centers