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Issue Position: Veterans

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Veterans Policy Sheet

Service members and military families need all the backing we can offer to them. These "benefits," however, are really commitments being honored, not government goodies being given out. Our country made promises to our service members for their sacrifices, and reductions and delays in providing them to veterans -- such as opening the Fresno veterans home -- are unconscionable.

The unemployment rate for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans is 12 percent, and it is 20 percent for those ages 18-24. So, helping troops separating from service find meaningful employment is a major goal.

It is easy to say that one supports the troops, but we need to make sure that those supporters also put the money where their mouths are. Below are highlights of that support:

Jobs for Returning Vets


SUPPORT AMERICAN JOBS ACT

Provides a new Returning Heroes Tax Credit of up to $5,600 for veterans who have been unemployed six months or longer
Doubles the Wounded Warriors Tax Credit to $9,600 for firms that hire veterans with service-connected disabilities who have been unemployed six months or longer
Challenges Community Health Centers to hire 8,000 veterans over the next three years
Helps vets who were military medics to become physician assistants by giving priority in HHS physician assistant training grants to universities and colleges that help train veterans

SUPPORT HIRING HEROES ACT

Encourages the hiring of separating service members by federal government and would allow service members to begin the federal employment hiring process prior to separation
Makes participation in the Transition Assistance Program mandatory for separating service members and requires that each service member receive an individualized assessment of jobs for which they may qualify
Requires the Department of Labor to engage with each veteran periodically to determine whether the veteran is employed
Continues a program that provides rehabilitation and vocational benefits to severely wounded members of the armed forces
Provides up to an additional 24 months of vocational rehabilitation and employment services to veterans who have exhausted both these benefits and state-provided unemployment benefits
Requires the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to engage with each veteran who has participated in its Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program periodically to determine whether the veteran is employed
Creates a competitive grant program for nonprofit organizations that provide mentorship and job training programs that are designed to lead to job placements for veterans


Benefits & Support for Vets & Their Families

EXPAND EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES BY SUPPORTING THE POST-9/11 GI BILL

The Post-9/11 GI Bill, the most comprehensive educational benefit for veterans since the original GI Bill of 1944, allows veterans, service members, reservists and Guard members the ability to receive an in-state, undergraduate education at a public institution for no cost
Do not backtrack on allowing the transfer of unused benefits to eligible career service members' families

SPEED UP THE CLAIMS PROCESS TO BETTER SERVE VETERANS

Ensure the VA hires up to 1,500 temporary claims processors to get veterans their benefits faster and is modernizing its claims process to serve veterans more quickly and efficiently
Because more than 40% of veterans in the VA health care system live in rural areas, the VA must keep expanding transportation and telemedicine services so that rural vets get care and benefits faster

UPHOLD STABLE AND PREDICTABLE FUNDING FOR VA HEALTH CARE

Veterans' medical care is now funded a year in advance, which means the VA can now expect sufficient and predictable funding

SUPPORT CARE FOR VETERANS AFFECTED BY AGENT ORANGE

It's easier for those with Agent Orange-related illnesses to get health coverage, extending benefits to those suffering from: Parkinson's disease, Hairy Cell and other Chronic B-Cell Leukemia, and Ischemic Heart Disease

EXPAND MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES FOR COMBAT VETS

Guarantee that every VA medical center provides services for vets suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), including screening for five years
Safeguard the number of PTSD programs that meet the special needs of veterans with co-occurring PTSD and substance use disorders, other mental health problems, and military sexual trauma
Maintain VA inclusion of marriage and family therapists


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