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Veterans Fiduciary Reform and Honoring Noble Service Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. MICHAUD. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of the bill, H.R. 5948, which is a mini-omnibus of veterans' measures that run the gamut of issues, such as improving the policy on notification of data breaches of veterans' personal information, to reforming of the Department of Veterans Affairs' fiduciary program, to ensuring that veterans with no known next of kin receive the dignified burial they deserve.

I thank all of the Members for their hard work on these measures, particularly Chairman Miller and Ranking Mr. Filner; Chairman RUNYAN of New Jersey and Mr. McNerney of California, the chair and ranking member of the Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Subcommittee; Mr. Johnson of Ohio and Mr. Donnelly of Indiana, chair and ranking member of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee. Their bipartisan work on the committee, along with the staff efforts, have helped ensure that the provisions of this bill are meaningful and sound for veterans on all fronts.

H.R. 5948 contains language from a bill introduced by Mr. Donnelly which will significantly improve the VA's notification requirements following a data breach involving a veteran's sensitive personal information.

We must work harder to protect veterans' personal identifiable information, including their Social Security number. And rapid notification procedures when breaches occur will stem the tide of harm any veteran, their family, or a survivor has to incur.

In that same vein of protecting our veterans, this bill also contains a long-overdue overhaul of the VA fiduciary program. The additional provisions seek to
ensure that our most vulnerable VA beneficiaries who cannot manage on their own are provided the utmost protections of their hard-earned benefits.

In my district, the number one concern among the constituents that are brought before my congressional offices deals with veterans issues. And I'm so pleased that H.R. 5948 includes a provision to grant county veterans service officers, other State and local employees, as well as staff of Members of Congress greater access to veterans' claims information and for tracking purposes.

I wholeheartedly support the mission of this measure and the work of our county veterans service officers and the tireless work of my staff, as I know other Members of Congress' staff, as it relates to veterans' issues.

Finally, this bill will establish a Place of Remembrance at Arlington National Cemetery for unidentified cremated remains of our servicemen and -women. This will ensure that not one of our veterans or servicemembers is left behind or forgotten.

Mr. Speaker, according to the Department of Defense, more than 48,000 servicemembers have been wounded in action while serving in the recent conflicts. Today, 18 veterans and servicemembers will take their lives by their own hands. These are sobering statistics. In caring for the injured men and women in uniform, we must continue to address their needs so they may live in dignity after their honorable military service.

I have only begun to name a few important provisions of this bill, and I want to thank the chairman for his work to bring this bill before the committee. I would urge my colleagues to support the bill, and I respectfully reserve the balance of my time.

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