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U.S. Has “Obligation to Provide Veterans the Benefits and Care They’ve Earned,” Westerman says (Video)

November 29, 2016
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressman Bruce Westerman (AR-04) issued the following statement upon passage of seven veterans-related bills on Tuesday (November 29) in the U.S. House of Representatives:

“The men and women who have served this nation in uniform have sacrificed in ways large and small,” Westerman said. “The United States has an obligation to provide veterans the benefits and care they’ve earned. That is why I joined with my House colleagues on the right and left today to support a series of bills that would ensure proper access to healthcare, education, and employment for our veterans. For far too long, our veterans have not received the benefits and care they deserve. These bills do not make up for the deficiencies in the V.A., but they are a step in the right direction for the heroes who fought for each of us.”

The following is a list of veterans-related bills passed by the House of Representatives on Tuesday (descriptions by the House Republican Conference):

  • H.R. 5458 – Veterans TRICARE Choice Act: “Would allow certain individuals who are automatically eligible for TRICARE, which is the health benefits program of the Department of Defense, to elect to be temporarily ineligible for that benefit. Making that election would allow those individuals to contribute to health savings accounts (HSAs), which are tax-advantaged accounts used to pay health expenses. Under current law, individuals eligible for TRICARE and covered by a high-deductible health insurance plan (HDHP) cannot make contributions to HSAs.”
  • H.R. 4757 – To amend title 38, USC, to expand the eligibility for headstones, markers, and medallions furnished by the Secretary of VA for deceased individuals who were awarded the Medal of Honor: “Would allow the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide special markers for the graves of those who have received the Medal of Honor and who are buried in private cemeteries. Under current law, the VA is prohibited from furnishing a distinctive headstone, marker, or medallion for Medal of Honor recipients who are buried in private cemeteries, if the grave is marked with a private headstone.”
  • H.R. 5399 – Ethical Patient Care for Veterans Act: “Would require physicians employed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to report unethical health care practices that take place at VA medical facilities to the appropriate state licensing authority within five days of occurrence. The bill also would require VA to inform physicians of their duty to report.”
  • H.R. 5047 – Protecting Veterans’ Educational Choice Act: “Would require the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to include information on articulation agreements when it provides educational and vocational counseling to veterans. Articulation agreements are arrangements between institutions of higher learning regarding how those institutions will grant academic credit for course work pursued at other institutions.”
  • H.R. 5166 – WINGMAN Act: “Would enable congressional staff, which would include staff sometimes referred to as “caseworkers”, to have “read only” access to veterans’ records in the databases of the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), if the veteran provides permission to the Congressional office to allow their records to be accessed. This would enable staff, who are already certified to access these records, to bypass the step of having to use the VA as a intermediator to receive them.”
  • H.R. 3286 – HIRE Vets Act: “Would require the Department of Labor (DOL) to establish the HIRE Vets Medallion Program, within one year of enactment, to annually recognize businesses for their efforts to employ veterans. DOL would make awards to employers, on a voluntary basis, who recruit, employ, and retain veterans; and provide community and charitable services supporting the veteran community. Employers would earn either platinum or gold status based on requirements related to the number of veterans hired each year, if they provide pay equity for Guardsmen and Reserve employees who were called up to active military service, and if certain other requirements are met.”
  • H.R. 5600 – No Hero Left Untreated Act: “Requires the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to carry out a one year pilot program to treat a limited number of veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, chronic pain, or opiate addiction or who have experienced military sexual trauma by using magnetic EEG/EKG-guided resonance therapy. The bill also requires VA to submit a report on the pilot program.”
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