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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

NCIL Policy on Veterans’ Issues: Overview

Tammy Duckworth delivers remarks at NCIL's 2015 Rally at the CapitolNCIL supports efforts to provide all veterans and their families with services and benefits in the most effective and efficient manner possible in recognition of their service. Specifically, NCIL supports:

  • Reform by the VA and Congress for the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) to process appointments in a timely manner.
  • Reform by the VA and Congress for the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) claims process to ensure consistency, true reforms with timely processing, and adjudication of claims.
  • A focus by the Department of Defense (DOD), VA, and Congress to provide proper supports for veterans who have PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury, and mental health issues as a result of service.
  • Transition from military to civilian life involves the veteran’s ability to work competitively. Congress must provide funding for education, employment, and training programs to meet increasing needs.
  • Congress must ensure that the VHA receives appropriate and sufficient funding for veterans’ healthcare while sustaining quality and satisfaction. This would include continued expansion of community-based living options such as Veterans Directed Home and Community Based Services and Medical Foster Homes.
  • Our President and Congress should continue to address the issue of homeless veterans and support efforts to prevent homelessness.
  • Congress must ensure that benefits received by veterans and their families are not reduced.
  • Since September 2001 there have been benefits created specifically for post-9/11 military members and deservedly so. It is time to examine the availability of those benefits for veterans who served pre-9/11.
  • There are factors affecting the daily lives of families and veterans that require needed services to be available in the communities where they live. There needs to be continued effort by Congress, DOD, and the VA to engage and collaborate with community-based organizations like Centers for Independent Living, which stand ready to continue serving veterans and their families.

NCIL supports the following bills from the 115th Congress and urges swift action on these measures.

Doing What’s Right for Our Navy Veterans Exposed to Agent Orange

The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act (H.R. 969 and S. 681) clarifies presumptions related to veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam by including its territorial seas for the VA’s service connection to Agent Orange. H.R. 969 is awaiting Subcommittee action. Hearings were held on S. 681 but it is awaiting further action.

Protecting Children of Veterans Who Gave up So Much for Our Country

The CHAMPVA Children’s Care Protection Act of 2015 (S. 170) and the Veterans Dependents’ Parity Act (H.R. 220) allow children of veterans eligible for medical care under the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA) to continue coverage up to age 26. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act left a coverage gap for children of eligible veterans from 23 to 26 years of age. S. 170 is awaiting Senate action in Committee, and H.R. 220 is awaiting House action in Subcommittee.

NCIL also supports the following bills from the 114th Congress that have not yet been reintroduced in the 115th.

Workable Solutions: Reducing the Backlog and Creating Better Access

The Quicker Veterans Benefits Delivery Act (H.R. 1331 and S. 666) will establish workable solutions by maximizing the use of private medical evidence to conserve VA resources and allowing the VA the authority to award partial or temporary benefits when clearly supported by evidence. H.R. 1331 is awaiting action in the full Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. S. 666 is awaiting Senate action.

The Disabled Veterans’ Access to Medical Exams Improvement Act (H.R. 2214) provides VA contract physicians the ability to conduct disability examinations at any location in any state on behalf of the VA. This legislation extends the temporary authority to December 2017 and expands the successful pilot program. This legislation has been awaiting full Committee action since 2015.

The Access to Veterans Benefits Improvement Act (H.R. 3335) provides access to VA case-tracking information for accredited individuals tasked with helping veterans. VA trained and accredited County Veteran Service Officers (CVSOs) have explained that they cannot answer simple questions about VA actions because they lack access. This will ease the administrative burden on VA employees, allowing their focus to remain on claims processing. This legislation is awaiting Subcommittee action.

Providing Reservists Improved Opportunities for Careers in the Federal Workforce

The Military Reserve Jobs Act of 2015 (S. 594) provides qualified members of the Military Reserve Components a tiered preference in hiring for civil service jobs. For many veterans, careers with the federal government present a fantastic opportunity to continue their lifelong mission of public service. S. 594 is awaiting Senate action in Committee.

Updated: March 23, 2017.