The United States Senate last night passed a comprehensive package of improvements to benefits and services for veterans and their families, including a key component authored by U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) to help keep military families in their homes. The Honoring America's Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012 contains a measure to lengthen the period of foreclosure protection for servicemembers returning from active duty, which is similar to a provision from Whitehouse's Protecting Servicemembers from Mortgage Abuses Act of 2011.
"After fighting for our country overseas, our troops shouldn't have to fight to keep a roof over their heads when they return home," said Whitehouse. "I'm pleased that we are able to take this important step to strengthen protections for military families facing the dual challenges of deployment and a tough economy."
Current law provides for a stay of foreclosure proceedings for loans servicemembers incurred before entering active duty service. Servicemembers are covered by this protection for the duration of their deployment and for nine months after their tour of duty. The bill would lengthen that period from nine to 12 months. The legislation also extends the military foreclosure protections, currently set to expire at the end of this year, through December 31, 2014. In addition, the bill requires the Comptroller General to report to Congress on the effectiveness of these protections in improving the long-term financial well-being of servicemembers and their families.
The legislative package includes provisions to improve health care, housing, education, homelessness, memorial affairs, and compensation for veterans and their dependents. It also provides for medical care coverage for former residents of U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune suffering from exposure to contaminated drinking water.