Issue Position: Veterans
Veterans: Saluting America's Finest
Saluting America's Finest
"There is no adequate compensation for what our nation's military has so bravely and honorably secured for us, but we can and we must endeavor to pay tribute to their service, by continuing our commitment to provide them with the best possible care and recognition."
As a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Inhofe has sought the best compensation and care for America's soldiers and veterans through fiscally sound measures that preserve the heritage of the U.S. Armed Forces. While in the Senate, he has voted more than 60 times to increase federal funding for veterans which has gone up more than 75 percent since 2001.
-Updating the Montgomery GI Bill: This year, Senator Inhofe proudly supported the passage of GI benefit enhancements which were signed into law on June 30, 2008. The legislation modernizes the outdated Montgomery GI Bill, providing $62.8 billion over eleven years, and applying to any service member who served the required period of active duty since September 11, 2001. Importantly, this legislation expands GI Bill benefits to include a transferability provision Senator Inhofe worked to include, allowing troops to transfer GI benefits to spouses and children and providing a significant retention incentive to these troops.
After hearing the concerns of Oklahoma veterans and school officials regarding the administration of some of the changes, Sen. Inhofe is working with Secretary James Peake at the Department of Veterans Affairs to ensure the same level of care and support currently provided to our veterans is maintained.
-Enhanced Medical Treatment: This Congress, Senator Inhofe has sponsored amendments to the FY09 National Defense Authorization Bill that will advance the medical treatment available to the armed forces, including establishing a Traumatic Injury Center of Excellence to address the treatment and rehabilitation of traumatic extremity injuries and amputations, expanding the availability of medical and dental services for National Guard and reserves, and enacting nutrition and dietary care for seriously ill and injured service members to aid in recovery.
- Improving the Survivor Benefits Program: Senator Inhofe has supported changes to the survivor benefits program so that surviving spouses receive full benefits.
- Wounded Warriors Act of 2007: Senator Inhofe successfully worked to enact the Wounded Warriors Act as part of the FY08 National Defense Authorization Act. This bill makes system-wide improvements in health care for service members. It guarantees mental health evaluations to combat veterans within 30 days of their request. The bill increases from two to five years the period during which recently separated combat veterans may seek care from the Veterans Administration. It also requires the Department of Defense to use the Veterans Administration's presumption-of-sound-condition standard in establishing eligibility of service members for disability retirement.
-Added Retirement Benefits: Sen. Inhofe cosponsored The National Guard and Reserve Retirement Modernization Act, S. 648 which amends title 10, United States Code, to reduce the eligibility age for military service retired pay for members of the Ready Reserve in active federal status or on active duty for significant periods.
-Increased Health Benefits: On April 24, 2008, Senator Inhofe voted to enhance vital veterans' benefits including life insurance, housing, and increased benefits for disabled veterans under the age of 65. It also provides additional insurance for veterans who suffered traumatic injuries in combat since 2001. In addition, he was the cosponsor of The Veterans' Benefits Enhancement Act of 2008, S. 2640.
-Concurrent Receipt: In 2004, Congress eliminated the unfair requirement of offsetting military retired pay by the amount of VA disability compensation a service member receives. As a key member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Inhofe supported this important change to veterans' benefits and had long worked to ensure this change was enacted.
-Senator Inhofe sponsored the Respect for America's Fallen Heroes Act, S. 2779 prohibiting a political or protest demonstration at a national cemetery or within 500 feet of a cemetery at which a funeral or memorial service is to be held if such demonstration includes any individual making noise or a diversion that disturbs the peace or good order of the funeral or service and applies criminal penalties. This legislation became law in May 2006.
-Senator Inhofe cosponsored the Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act, S.3167 to clarify veterans' benefits to firearm ownership.
-Senator Inhofe cosponsored the National Guard and Reserve Retired Pay Equity Act of 2008, S.2836 to back-date to September 11, 2001, the period of active duty of a contingency operation or other emergency situations, for which members of Ready Reserve components of the armed forces can receive credit in determining eligibility for early service retired pay.
-Saluting the Flag: Senator Inhofe has sponsored legislation to amend title 4, United States Code, to prescribe that members of the Armed Forces and veterans out of uniform may render the military salute during hoisting, lowering, or passing of flag.
-Inhofe Salutes: A new feature on Sen. Inhofe's website called "Inhofe Salutes" provides a sampling of the numerous news stories reported in the Oklahoma media highlighting the courage, honor, and commitment of the men and women of the United States Armed Services.