Veterans Memorial Post 347

A couple of legislative issues concerning Veterans

H.R. 7846, the Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2022

On October 10, the president signed into law H.R. 7846, the Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2022, which authorizes a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for veterans receiving Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability compensation, clothing allowance, and survivors receiving dependency indemnity compensation payments.

The VA adjusts veterans’ monthly disability compensation amounts based on the yearly change in the cost of living as determined by the Social Security Administration. The recently announced 8.7% COLA will increase the amount paid to veterans and their survivors effective December 2022, and will be reflected in January 2023 compensation payments.

In 1983, the COLA was over 7%. This year’s COLA of 8.7% is the largest increase in over 50 years. The new VA compensation rates are not available yet, but click here to view the VA’s website, where they will be posted soon.

H.R. 8750, the Expanding Veterans' Options for Long Term Care Act

     H.R. 8750, the Expanding Veterans' Options for Long Term Care Act, seeks to assess the effectiveness of providing assisted living services to eligible veterans.

     Currently, the VA provides home-based primary care services, which is care provided by a qualified care specialist at the veteran’s own home. The VA also provides 24-hour care and supervision by skilled nurses and nursing aides at community living centers (CLC) for veterans who can’t be cared for at home. However, more support and services are needed for those veterans whose required level of care falls between intermittent home-based supportive services and an extended care skilled nursing facility.

     Assisted living services can benefit veterans with certain conditions, such a moderate traumatic brain injury, who may need help with daily care, but not as much help as a nursing home or a CLC provides. Exact arrangements can vary, but assisted living residents usually live in their own apartments or rooms and share common areas. They have access to supportive services, including up to three meals a day; assistance with personal care; help with medications, housekeeping and laundry; 24-hour on-site staff; and generally, some social and recreational activities.

     The Expanding Veterans' Options for Long Term Care Act requires the VA to implement a three-year pilot program to provide assisted living services in six geographically diverse areas. Veterans who would be eligible to participate are those who are already receiving nursing home level care paid for by the VA, are eligible for such care from the VA, or exceed the requirements for domiciliary care paid for by the VA but do not meet the requirements for nursing home level care paid for by the VA.

     This bill would also require the VA to report on the cost of care at each assisted living facility, including an analysis of any cost savings by the VA when compared to the cost of nursing home care, feedback from participants in the pilot program, and recommendations on whether the model studied in the pilot program should be continued or adopted throughout the Department.

     DAV strongly supports the Expanding Veterans' Options for Long Term Care Act, in accordance with DAV Resolution No. 022, which calls for legislation to improve the VA’s program of long-term services and supports for service-disabled veterans. We are calling on all DAV members and supporters to contact their Representative and urge them to co-sponsor and support H.R. 8750.

H.R. 5721, the VA Infrastructure Powers Exceptional Research (VIPER) Act

 Today an important bill, H.R. 5721, the VA Infrastructure Powers Exceptional Research (VIPER) Act, will be up for a vote on the House floor. This bipartisan bill is supportive of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) research program and critical to funding veteran specific research. Please contact your Representative today and urge them to approve this important bill.  

VA research plays an invaluable role in enabling the VA to identify breakthroughs in medicine and biomedical and rehabilitative technology, and offering its clinicians opportunities to participate in enriched learning environments with scientific peers in academic affiliates. This helps the VA retain its best and brightest clinical providers and preserve collaborative relationships with schools of medicine. The VA’s research program is dedicated to exploring veteran-specific questions about risks unique to the veteran population and identifying the most effective ways to treat health conditions related to their military service. VA researchers have also made many important discoveries that benefit all Americans.

H.R. 5721, would exempt the VA from the Paperwork Reduction Act requirements when it enters certain contracts or agreements for research activities. It would also establish the Office of Research and Development within title 38, United States Code, to ensure that the VA maintains its commitment to a robust research endeavor within the department. Most importantly, it would allow some scarce research professionals engaged in mission-critical work to accept compensation from other sources for off-hours work outside of their VA duties.

DAV Resolution No. 430 urges Congress to support the VA’s research programs. Please contact your Representative today and urge them to pass this important bill to strengthen the VA’s unique research program. 

On October 10, the president signed into law H.R. 7846, the Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2022which authorizes a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for veterans receiving Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability compensation, clothing allowance, and survivors receiving dependency indemnity compensation payments.

The VA adjusts veterans’ monthly disability compensation amounts based on the yearly change in the cost of living as determined by the Social Security Administration. The recently announced 8.7% COLA will increase the amount paid to veterans and their survivors effective December 2022, and will be reflected in January 2023 compensation payments.

In 1983, the COLA was over 7%. This year’s COLA of 8.7% is the largest increase in over 50 years. The new VA compensation rates are not available yet, but click here to view the VA’s website, where they will be posted soon.

H.R. 6961, the Dignity for MST Survivors Act, was introduced by Congressman Frank Mrvan (Ind.), Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Technology Modernization.

This bill modifies communications and procedures for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Board of Veterans' Appeals (BVA/Board) regarding claims for compensation based on military sexual trauma (MST) experienced by veterans.

The bill requires the VA to ensure each BVA member is offered annual MST training and that claims for compensation based on residuals of MST must be assigned to a member of the Board who has completed the annual training. 

VA would also be required to ensure communications to veterans filing appeals use more sensitive language and that clinicians providing examinations for compensation or pension are trained to use trauma-informed practices.

DAV Resolution No. 105 calls on Congress to support oversight of VA practices in evaluating disability claims for residuals of military sexual trauma.

Too many veterans who experience MST report they are re-traumatized when seeking compensation through a seemingly rigid and uncaring bureaucracy in which decision makers are not consistently following proper procedures. Please write your Representative to ask him or her to cosponsor H.R. 6961-- the Dignity for MST Survivors Act.

 H.R. 8750, the Expanding Veterans' Options for Long Term Care Act, seeks to assess the effectiveness of providing assisted living services to eligible veterans.

     Currently, the VA provides home-based primary care services, which is care provided by a qualified care specialist at the veteran’s own home. The VA also provides 24-hour care and supervision by skilled nurses and nursing aides at community living centers (CLC) for veterans who can’t be cared for at home. However, more support and services are needed for those veterans whose required level of care falls between intermittent home-based supportive services and an extended care skilled nursing facility.

     Assisted living services can benefit veterans with certain conditions, such a moderate traumatic brain injury, who may need help with daily care, but not as much help as a nursing home or a CLC provides. Exact arrangements can vary, but assisted living residents usually live in their own apartments or rooms and share common areas. They have access to supportive services, including up to three meals a day; assistance with personal care; help with medications, housekeeping and laundry; 24 hour on-site staff; and generally some social and recreational activities.

     The Expanding Veterans' Options for Long Term Care Act requires the VA to implement a three-year pilot program to provide assisted living services in six geographically diverse areas. Veterans who would be eligible to participate are those who are already receiving nursing home level care paid for by the VA, are eligible for such care from the VA, or exceed the requirements for domiciliary care paid for by the VA but do not meet the requirements for nursing home level care paid for by the VA.

     This bill would also require the VA to report on the cost of care at each assisted living facility, including an analysis of any cost savings by the VA when compared to the cost of nursing home care, feedback from participants in the pilot program, and recommendations on whether the model studied in the pilot program should be continued or adopted throughout the Department.

     DAV strongly supports the Expanding Veterans' Options for Long Term Care Act, in accordance with DAV Resolution No. 022, which calls for legislation to improve the VA’s program of long-term services and supports for service disabled veterans. We are calling on all DAV members and supporters to contact their Representative and urge them to co-sponsor and support H.R. 8750.

Legislative Update

Five New Veteran-Related Bills signed into Law

Good news! On June 7, five important veteran-related bills were signed by the president and became public law. The Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas SERVICE Act – named after Marine Corps Officer Kate Thomas, who served near a burn pit in Iraq and died of breast cancer – expands eligibility for VA mammography screening to veterans who served in locations associated with toxic exposures. (P.L. 117-133)

The Veterans Rapid Retraining Assistance Program Restoration and Recovery Act gives VA the authority to restore important education benefits to veterans who were unable to complete a course or program as a result of the closure of an educational institution or the disapproval of a program by the state approving agency or the VA. (P.L. 117-138)

The Making Advances in Mammography and Medical Options for Veterans Act (MAMMO Act) strengthens and expands access to high-quality breast cancer screenings and life-saving cancer care for veterans nationwide. (P.L. 117-135)

The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) Extension Act extends a program that compensates individuals who were exposed to radiation from atomic weapons testing, or uranium mining or processing, and who subsequently developed specified cancers or other medical conditions. (P.L. 117-139)

The Strengthening Oversight for Veterans Act gives the VA’s Office of Inspector General the authority to subpoena witnesses as necessary to carry out the duties of the office. (P.L. 117-136)

All of these bills were supported by both the American Legion and the Disabled American Veterans.

In addition, on May 18, the U.S. House of Representative passed several other supported bills, which are now being considered by the Senate.

These include:

DAV is closely following these bills and will make efforts to ensure their passage by the U.S. Senate.

Bill Update on H.R 3967:  Honoring our PACT Act

On June 16, 2022, in a bipartisan vote of 84 -14, the Senate passed H.R. 3967, the Honoring our PACT Act. It is now up to the House to reconsider and pass this historic comprehensive toxic exposure legislation that will impact all generations of veterans. Over 60 veteran and military service organizations support the Honoring Our PACT Act.

House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Mark Takano and Ranking Member Mike Bost both support this truly comprehensive measure and step forward in addressing the long lasting impact of toxic exposures.

The House will be voting on the Honoring Our PACT Act this week. If the House votes to pass the Honoring the PACT Act, it will go to the President for signature. Please contact your Representative today, as our fellow veterans and their families cannot afford to wait.

Senate Bill 2884: The Veterans Fair Debt Notice Act of 2018

Calls for the VA to create a debt notice letter, with the assistance of veteran’s service organizations, written in plain language to include a clear explanation of all options available to the veteran. The VA would also be required to develop a method that allows veterans to receive the debt notice via email as well as by standard mail.

“Currently, VA debt letters are not written in easy-to-understand language and often lack an explanation of why the debt was created,” said DAV National Service Director Jim Marszalek. “Many veterans do not understand the reason for the debt, their options after notification, and in many instances, do not receive the notice in a timely manner. Enactment of S. 2884 would provide veterans with a clear explanation about the debt and allow them to receive a more expedient notice via email.