The following information is for military personnel and veterans. Please contact our office for assistance if you have any questions or require further assistance.
Veterans Legislation Passed in the 115th Congress
* The following information is sourced from the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.
H.R. 3819, introduced by Rep. Brian Mast, would extend a number of expiring authorities impacting veterans’ benefits, health care, and homeless programs, including nursing home care, support services for caregivers, transportation, child care assistance, adaptive sports programs and housing and home loan services. Click here for more information. Read the bill here.
The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017, introduced by Rep. Phil Roe, would remove time restrictions to use the GI Bill, enabling future eligible recipients to use their GI bill benefits for their entire lives, as opposed to the current 15-year timeline. Click here for more information. Read the bill here.
The Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017, introduced by Reps. Mike Bost and Elizabeth Esty, would modernize the appeals process at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Click here for more information. Read the bill here.
The HIRE Vets Act, introduced by Rep. Paul Cook, as amended, would require the Department of Labor to establish a HIRE Vets Medallion Program to recognize companies for their efforts to employ veterans. Click here for more information. Read the bill here.
The Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 would create a new streamlined and efficient process to remove, demote or suspend any VA employee for poor performance or misconduct with a concrete shortened timeline, while still protecting employees’ due process rights, and would provide them with the right to appeal the action. It would also provide expanded protections for whistleblowers and would specifically bar VA from using this removal authority if the employee has an open whistleblower complaint/case with the Office of Special Counsel. Click here for more information. Read the bill here.
S. 114 would provide $2 billion to continue the Choice Program for six months while Congress works on other reforms to the Choice Program. It would also authorize 28 major medical facility leases and enhance the recruitment, retention and training of the VA workforce. Click here for more information. Read the bill here.
Senate companion to H.R. 369: Eliminating the Sunset Date of the Choice Act
The Eliminating the Sunset Date of the Choice Act, introduced by Chairman Phil Roe, M.D., would eliminate the statutory sunset date for the Choice Program and instead allow the program to continue until the original funding has been expended. Click here for more information. Read the bill here.
- Military OneSource — Information includes: deployment, reunion, relationships, grief, spouse employment and education, parenting and childhood services.
- Tax Information for Members of the U.S. Armed Forces
- TRICARE — The military's health care program.
- U.S. Armed Forces websites:
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) — lists offices, by state, as well as information and resources on the following topics:
- How can I contact the Department of Veterans Affairs?
- How can I get education benefits under the Montgomery GI Bill?
- How can I get medical benefits?
- How can I get information on suicide prevention?
- How can I get a home loan?
- How can I get life insurance?
- How can I get vocational rehabilitation and employment benefits?
- How can I get survivor benefits?
- What drug benefits are available?
- How can I get a copy of my military records?
- How can I apply for a medal, award, or decoration that I earned while in the service?
- Where can I get more information on federal benefits for veterans?
- Where can I get more information on my state's benefits for veterans?
- Would you like to apply for veterans benefits? Use VONAPP to apply online.
- Would you like to appeal a decision? Find out how at the Board of Veterans Appeals.
For more information concerning work and views related to Veterans issues, please contact our office.
More on Veterans
As we celebrated our nation's veterans this past week, I hope we were all able to pause and count the many blessings we have in this country because of the sacrifices of others. We are fortunate to live in the United States of America, but our freedom does not come without a cost. Our liberty is hard-won by those who answered the call to serve.
The coordinated terrorist attacks on our troops and innocent civilians in Kabul, Afghanistan by ISIS was nothing less than a tragedy. Thirteen servicemen lost their lives in the mission to protect Americans and all human life in the face of true evil. My heart goes out to the families of those who were injured or killed. The nation grieves together with the loved ones of these heroes.
This year, we celebrate the 245th birthday of the United States. Independence Day is a great day to picnic with friends, spend time outside, and enjoy a fireworks show, but it is also much more than that. It is our duty to honor the men and women who, for the past two and a half centuries, have kept our county free.
We owe a debt of gratitude to American military members and their families and we want to repay them in a very small way by giving them lifetime access to our national parks.
This year’s Memorial Day will be special for many Americans as our nation begins to return to normal, with many joining in-person gatherings with family and friends for the first time in over a year. As we celebrate the holiday weekend with cookouts, sunshine, and good food, let’s take a moment to count our many blessings because of the sacrifices of others. Freedom has always come with a high price, and it is our privilege to remember the men and women who died in service so that we may continue to enjoy our freedom.
I recently introduced two bipartisan bills to ensure veterans exposed to Agent Orange while serving their country during the Vietnam War-era receive the benefits they were promised and have earned. Upon retirement, many Vietnam War-era veterans stationed in Vietnam and Thailand were denied certain health benefits despite a clear connection between their time in service, the herbicides used during their service, and their subsequent poor health status.
WASHINGTON – Today, Representative Bruce Westerman (R-AR) introduced two bipartisan bills to ensure veterans who were exposed to chemical herbicides while serving their country receive the benefits they have earned. The Keeping Our Promises Act is co-sponsored by Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) and 18 colleagues, and a second bill extending benefits to Vietnam War-era veterans stationed in Thailand is co-sponsored by 37 House colleagues and is a companion bill to Senator John Boozman’s (R-AR) S. 657.
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) announced the Fourth District’s student nominations to military academies. Westerman issued the following statement:
“I’d like to encourage all Fourth District students interested in serving their country to consider attending a military academy. America’s freedom and values depend on the courage of young people who put on a uniform and fight to protect liberty. U.S. military academies offer unparalleled opportunities to serve while obtaining a fully-funded, top-notch education.”
One of the things I love most about serving in public office is the ability to honor incredible heroes who live and work in our communities. Just a few weeks ago, I learned that one of these people, Mr. Fred Randle, was a long-time Hot Springs resident who was part of Merrill’s Marauders during WWII.
I am pleased to inform you that starting this Veterans Day on Nov. 11, and lasting indefinitely, the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) has granted military veterans and Gold Star families free access to national parks and wildlife refuges, as well as lands and waters managed by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Our freedom isn’t free. It is fought for and earned by our veterans, and we owe each of them our thanks. This year on Veteran’s Day, I encourage you to take time and thank the veterans in your life for their service to America. I'm honored to have several family members who have served, including my grandfather, Andrew Westerman, who fought in World War II. My father-in-law Clayton French and my brother-in-law Clayton (Chuck) French also both served in the Air Force, and Chuck actually wrote commentary that served as the inspiration for The Airman's Creed.