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Improving Compensation Benefits For Veterans In Certain Cases Of Impairment Of Vision Involving Both Eyes

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. BERKLEY. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank Mr. Filner and Mr. Miller for their steadfast support for this legislation, and Ms. Baldwin for bringing this to our attention for quite awhile now, waiting for us to act, and act we should.

As Mr. Filner is well aware, having been to my congressional district, southern Nevada has one of the fastest growing veterans populations in the country, with nearly 218,000 veterans living in Clark County. And when I first started serving in Congress, I only had 160,000 veterans, so our veterans population has increased quite dramatically. It is even more important that former service men and women have the health care and benefits that they have earned.

I am a cosponsor of this legislation which would allow veterans who have complete loss of sight in one eye due to a service-connected injury to receive increased disability compensation if they lose sight in the other eye, regardless of whether that loss of sight is service connected.

For some reason, and I don't understand why, the VA has a higher threshold for determining blindness than any of the States and for the Social Security Administration. Because of this, veterans like my constituent, retired Army Major General Roy Kekahuna, are not covered for deteriorating vision in both eyes, even though they are considered legally blind.

Let us through this legislation demonstrate our true appreciation to our veterans for their sacrifice on behalf of this Nation by meeting our promise to provide them with proper health care and by passing this important piece of legislation.

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