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Public Statements

Veterans Benefit Improvement Act of 2007

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington DC

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Mr. FILNER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I am glad that my colleagues on the committee were able to work together to craft this important piece of legislation. The Chair of our Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity, Ms. Herseth Sandlin, and her ranking member, Mr. Boozman, provided really strong bipartisan leadership that was important in this bill. As I said when starting this package of bills, we must never forget the great debt we owe to all of them. We have to remember the courage and sacrifice demonstrated daily by those who serve our Nation.

Mr. Speaker, when our servicemembers return home, it is our solemn obligation to protect and serve them with the same commitment and dedication which they protected and served us. H.R. 1315, as amended, would contribute to just that level of commitment.

Under current law, transitioning disabled servicemembers who are temporarily living in housing owned by a family member are barred from receiving financial assistance to make necessary adaptations to their housing. This bill before us clarifies this point of law and ensures those veterans have the resources necessary to enjoy a comfortable and independent lifestyle.

This legislation creates a scholarship for students interested in earning a degree or certification in blind rehabilitation. In return for these scholarships, these students would provide 3 years of service to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The effect of this program will be a needed staff increase to meet the growing needs of our vision-impaired and blind veterans.

I must say, Ms. Herseth Sandlin, we ought to look at this for some other needs of the VA, whether it is nursing or psychiatry or whatever. This way of encouraging and incentivizing those who could serve our veterans is a really fine approach.

The bill will, furthermore, bring more efficiency and accountability to the veteran employment process by facilitating greater coordination among the U.S. Departments of Veterans Affairs, Defense, and Labor. It allows for a more transparent view of data concerning complaints submitted by the National Guard and Reservists regarding difficulty obtaining employment.

Ensuring that our servicemembers are afforded a seamless transition from active duty to civilian life is an issue that we in the committee are keenly aware of, and I am glad to see needed language in this bill.

Finally, this bill corrects a technical error in current law to increase the U.S. Department of Labor's Advisory Committee on Veterans Employment Training and Employer Outreach by one representative from the existing 15.

We all stand united here in this House in caring for our veterans, and I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 1315, as amended

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. FILNER. Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to conclude by referring to the section that the gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. Jackson-Lee) referred to.

Unfortunately, because of scoring rules, we had to remove at the last minute a section that would have given protection from foreclosure, extend the protection from foreclosure on homes from 3 months to 6 months for those who are fighting abroad, whether in the active duty or in the Guard and Reserve units.

It's a very important section, very important protection I think that we have to extend to our men and women in active duty. We will take that up at a later time and try to make sure that that protection is granted

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Mr. FILNER. Mr. Speaker, I urge support of H.R. 1315, as amended, and I yield back the balance of my time.


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