Today, Congressman Bill Owens shared in the American Legion's announcement that 2010 was a "banner year on veterans legislation." In their announcement, the Legion recognized several high priority pieces of their legislative agenda that Congress had accomplished.
"I am proud to have voted several bills into law over the past year that will benefit our nation's veterans, honor their service, and maintain the integrity of our armed forces," said Owens. "Much has been accomplished for our brave servicemen and women, but there is still work to be done. I look forward to working with both parties in the future to pass additional legislation that provides the opportunities and benefits that our troops deserve."
As American Legion National Commander Jimmie Foster said, "the bipartisan passage of so many veterans bills by the 111th Congress certainly demonstrates its commitment to honor the sacrifices of those who have served in uniform." Over the last two years, significant legislation has been enacted that both responds to the needs of returning service men and women, and works to better honor veterans of past conflicts. Most recently, the President signed into law October 13th the Veterans' Benefits Act of 2010 that would enhance veterans employment and work training opportunities, address veterans housing issues, upgrade disability, insurance and survivor programs, and also require a comprehensive study of best treatment practices for chronic multi-symptom illness in Gulf War I veterans.
In his first year in office, Congressman Owens has cosponsored legislation to further improve the quality of life for veterans and active duty soldiers, including:
* H.R. 667: the Heroes at Home Act of 2009, a bill to establish a program on training and certification of family caregivers of veterans and members with traumatic brain injury
* (TBI) and conduct outreach to enhance awareness of veterans and the public about the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and TBI, as well as the services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs to veterans with such symptoms.
* H.R. 953: the Veterans Travel Tax Relief Act of 2009, a bill to allow veterans a deduction from gross income for their travel expenses, including those of a family member, to a Department of Veterans Affairs medical center for treatment related to a service-connected disability or for an examination related to a claim for disability compensation or a pension.
* H.R. 2254: the Agent Orange Equity Act of 2009, a bill to improve access to benefits for veterans exposed to Agent Orange.
* H.R. 3341: a bill directing the Secretary of the VA to automatically enroll returning members of the Armed Forces in the VA medical system upon discharge or separation from duty, for the purpose of reducing delays in service.