Last week, Congressman Bill Owens introduced legislation that would automatically enroll eligible veterans into the VA healthcare and benefit system, saving returning service members hours of paperwork and giving them more time to spend reintegrating into civilian life. This legislation would require the Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to see that eligible members of the Armed Forces who wish to participate in the VA system are automatically enrolled within 45 days of their separation from service.
"We owe a tremendous debt to American service members returning home from operations overseas," said Owens. "To that end, we must do all we can to ensure members of the Armed Forces have access to the benefits they have earned as soon as they leave the service. Too often, eligible veterans are delayed or kept out of the system simply because of the lengthy process required to enroll. This bill will streamline the process and save veterans valuable time that can be better spent with their families or finding a job back home."
American service members returning from deployment often have their focus set on visiting family, starting a home or finding a job. Many benefit programs require veterans to fill out paperwork, undergo evaluation or spend additional hours on the VA application process. As a result, some veterans are compelled to forego necessary screening or care, leading to deteriorating health down the road. This legislation would prevent this scenario and offer returning veterans the option of immediate enrollment to quickly facilitate access to the care they have earned through service to their country.
"This bill honors an individual's service to the nation by creating a logical process that takes the burden off veterans, enrolling them in the VA as soon as their transition to veteran status is complete," Owens added.