Constituent Services
Higgins Votes to Provide Additional Support for Returning Troops
June 1, 2007

 Congressional Funding for Vets Represents the Largest Increase in History

 

            Today, Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) and his colleagues in the House of Representatives approved sweeping new reforms to veterans’ health care benefits and additional legislation providing support to returning troops. 

 

            “Our military put their lives on the line to protect our Country and this Country owes them the same care and dedicated service in return,” said Congressman Higgins.  “This week we made great strides toward providing veterans with the long-overdue health care and transition services that meet the evolving needs of troops returning to civilian life in today’s world.”

 

            Below is a summary of some of the legislation approved this week.

 

            The Veterans Outreach Improvement Act (H.R. 67) allows the Veterans Administration (VA) to partner with state and local governments to reach out to veterans and their families to assist them in completing benefits claims and ensure they receive the benefits for which they are eligible. 

 

            H.R. 2199 the Traumatic Brian Injury (TBI) Health Enhancement and Long-Term Support Act requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to screen vets for TBI, calls for a comprehensive program of long-term care for post-acute TBI rehabilitation and expands VA resources to provide rural communities with “mobile vet centers” for mental health services and benefits outreach.  

 

            The Early Access to Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Benefits Act (H.R. 2239) extends eligibility for rehabilitation benefits to current members of the armed forces who are hospitalized, disabled or receiving outpatient care and likely to be discharged from service due to that disability. 

 

            H.R. 612 the Returning Servicemember VA Healthcare Insurance Act extends the period of eligibility for health care for combat service in the Persian Gulf War or future hostilities from two years to five years after discharge or release.  This bill is meant to address mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, which may not be evident right after a veteran’s discharge from service.

  

            Since September 2001 over 1.5 million U. S. troops nationwide, including nearly 59,000 from New York, have been deployed to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

 

            This Congress is, for the first time, fully funding the request of the major veterans’ service organizations, boosting veterans’ health care and benefits programs by nearly $12 billion – the largest increase in vet funding in American history. 

 

 

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