Washington, D.C. – On Wednesday, May 6, 2009, the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs led by Chairman Bob Filner (D-CA), approved five bills that would improve benefits and services to veterans provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
“Caring for veterans is an ongoing cost of war and the measures passed today will have an impact on our veterans,” said Chairman Filner. “I would like to thank Economic Opportunity Subcommittee Chairwoman Herseth Sandlin and Ranking Member Boozman for their hard work and strong bipartisan leadership in crafting these bills that we have passed today.”
H.R. 23, as amended – The Belated Thank You to the Merchant Mariners of World War II Act of 2009 (Filner)
This bill establishes in the Treasury the Merchant Mariner Equity Compensation Fund for payments by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs of a monthly benefit of $1,000 to each individual who, between December 7, 1941, and December 31, 1946, was a documented member of the U.S. merchant marine (including the Army Transport Service and the Naval Transport Service).
Chairman Filner stated, “This Committee is once again on the precipice of correcting a grave injustice heaped upon the gallant men of the Merchant Marine of World War II. These heroes were not granted veteran status until 40 years after the War. We are here today to rectify the improper denial of G.I. Bill benefits and to find a way to compensate them, more than 60 years later, for their heroic deeds.”
H.R. 466, as amended – Wounded Veteran Job Security Act (Doggett)
This bill prohibits any employment discrimination or acts of reprisal against any person who has, or who has been treated for, an injury, illness, or disability determined by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to have been incurred in or aggravated by military service. The bill was amended to allow employers to prove that this provision would impose an undue hardship to the employer and to bring the language in line with the current protections afforded to service members and veterans in the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA).
H.R. 1088 – Mandatory Veteran Specialist Training Act of 2009 (Herseth Sandlin)
This bill reduces from three years to one year the period during which a disabled veterans' outreach program specialist or a local veterans' employment representative must complete the training program provided by the National Veterans' Employment and Training Services Institute.
H.R. 1089, as amended – Veterans Employment Rights Realignment Act of 2009 (Herseth Sandlin)
This bill allows the U.S. Office of Special Counsel to receive and investigate certain USERRA claims containing a related prohibited personnel practice allegation. The bill was introduced to respond to hearing testimony from veterans and results of a pilot program showing that the U.S. Office of Special Counsel was equipped to handle these cases.
H.R. 1170, as amended – To establish a grant program to encourage the development of new assistive technologies for specially adapted housing (Boozman)
This bill directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to make grants to encourage the development of new assistive technologies for specially adapted housing for disabled veterans. Grant amounts would be limited to $200,000 annually per recipient.
The bills will next be considered by the U.S. House of Representatives.