On June 29, the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee approved five bills, including an omnibus health and benefits bill, a fix to the GI Bill and a measure aimed at helping Veterans find good jobs. They also approved legislation requiring the Veterans Affairs Department to provide medical and nursing care for any Veterans or family members who are ill because of contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, N.C. The employment bill, the Hiring Heroes Act of 2011, results from a push by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the committee chairwoman, for a comprehensive overhaul of programs that are supposed to help separating service members find jobs. Murray said the Defense Department, Labor Department and VA have myriad programs that are supposed to be helping, yet the unemployment rate for young Veterans hovers around 24 percent. “I don’t want to have programs just to have programs,” she said. “I want this to really work.” One of the key features of the bill is follow-up. For people receiving transition help in the military, or from VA or the Labor Department after getting out of the military, the bill requires follow-up six months to a year afterward. For those who do not have jobs, especially disabled Veterans who have used vocational rehabilitation programs, the bill would allow them to attend the classes again for another shot at earning a marketable skill. The omnibus bill, the Veterans Programs Improvement Act of 2011, includes provisions related to health, homeless Veterans, housing, compensation, burial and construction.
To learn more, please see: www.militarytimes.com/news/2011/06/military-veterans-benefits-bills-062911w/.