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Housing, Employment, And Living Programs For Veterans Act Of 2010

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Housing, Employment, And Living Programs For Veterans Act Of 2010

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Ms. HERSETH SANDLIN. Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 5360, the Housing, Employment and Living Programs (HELP) for Veterans Act of 2010, which the Veterans Affairs Committee approved with bipartisan support on Sept. 15, 2010.

I would like to thank Veterans Affairs Chairman FILNER and Ranking Member BUYER for their leadership on the committee and their support of this legislation.

I introduced the original version of H.R. 5360 on May 20, 2010, with the support of my colleague, Economic Opportunity Subcommittee Ranking Member BOOZMAN. The bill, as introduced, was titled the ``Blinded Veterans Adaptive Housing Improvement Act of 2010.'' The Blinded Veterans Adaptive Housing Improvement Act aligns the VA's definition of blindness with existing federal laws with regards to eligibility criteria for Specially Adapted Housing Grants. The Economic Opportunity Subcommittee that I chair held a hearing in November 2009 that identified this excessively restrictive definition as having prevented some visually impaired veterans from qualifying for the assistance they need to modify their homes for their disability.

Thanks to a concerted bipartisan effort by Ranking Member BOOZMAN, the other members of the Economic Opportunity Subcommittee, and other members of the full Veterans Affairs Committee, H.R. 5360 was improved and expanded throughout the legislative process to provide aid and assistance to many veterans beyond the visually impaired. I'm pleased the committee worked together in a bipartisan way to craft the final version of this legislation.

Importantly, these benefit improvements for veterans don't add a dime to the deficit. They are fully paid for by making a change that the VA requested to regulations regarding the VA's Home Loan Guarantee program.

H.R. 5360, now known as the HELP Veterans Act, improves benefits to veterans in a number of areas in addition to the assistance for blinded veterans, including:

Increasing apprenticeship, on-the-job training and flight training educational benefits through the Montgomery G.I. Bill.

Extending authorization for the VA's work-study program for student veterans to 2020 and authorizing new program standards to allow these veterans to work in Congressional offices as part of their work-study.

Temporarily reducing, for the three years, the requirement for private employers to provide a wage increase for veterans participating in an approved on-the-job training program.

Reauthorizing the Veterans' Advisory Committee on Education.

Improving the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment program by providing reimbursement for certified child care assistance for single parents as well as increasing the subsistence allowance payable to veterans participating in VR&E by 5.2 percent.

Updating regulations for VA educational benefit programs to increase the reporting fees payable to educational institutions as well as modifying the rules for advance payment of educational assistance to prevent any break in educational benefits.

Giving the Department of Labor the authority to make grants to programs and facilities to provide services for homeless women veterans and homeless veterans with children.

Again, I wish to thank Ranking Member BOOZMAN and the rest of my colleagues on the committee for the cooperative and bipartisan spirit in which they worked to better serve our veterans through this legislation. I urge my colleagues to pass H.R. 5360, the HELP Veterans Act.

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