As an active member of the Army Reserve for over 20 years, I have a deep admiration and appreciation for my fellow servicemen and women, and their families. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, I am fully committed to improving the welfare and quality of life for both our veterans and the current members of our Armed Services. As soon as I took office, I formed a Veterans Advisory Board to receive input from Nevada's veteran community on the issues they are facing. This advisory board focuses on issues related to health care coverage for veterans, access to job opportunities and workforce training programs and the proposed spending cuts at the Pentagon. The board's input allows me to take their concerns to Washington so I can be an effective advocate for our veterans.
I served in Iraq in 2008, so I understand the extraordinary sacrifice our veterans and their families make. Therefore, I formed a veteran advisory council composed of Nevadans to ensure the promises we made to our veterans are fulfilled. Below are a few pieces of legislation I support which will help keep those promises.
Recently, I introduced legislation that would reduce homelessness in our veteran community. Some severely disabled veterans qualify for aid and attendance benefits to pay for assistance with daily activities such as bathing, feeding, and dressing. Many of these veterans also qualify for housing assistance, but current law requires that any aid and attendance benefits be counted towards their income. The result is that our veterans who are most in need are not receiving adequate resources to stay in a home because of inflated income amounts. My bill eliminates that provision, thus allowing those veterans who most need assistance to qualify for maximum housing resources and reducing incidents of homelessness among veterans. To learn more about this bill, click here.
I also introduced a bill to update the Stolen Valor Act of 2005. I introduced this bill in order to address First Amendment concerns with the original law, and to protect the sanctity of military service and awards. This legislation will strengthen current law by punishing those who misrepresent their military service with the intention of obtaining anything of value. This legislation also strengthens current law by expanding the definition of misrepresentation to include any false claims of military service, service in a combat zone, and service in a special operations force. I'm committed to ensuring that those who served and sacrificed are properly recognized and prevent those seeking false praise from benefitting from the service of others.
In light of the Supreme Court's recent decision to overturn the original stolen valor law, I have renewed my efforts to pass the Stolen Valor Act of 2011 which will pass constitutional scrutiny. The Supreme Court laid down a marker in its recent decision on Stolen Valor, but it also left the door open to valid Congressional action. I believe that we must defend the valor of those who have served our country but also that we must protect the very liberties for which our service men and women sacrificed. The Stolen Valor Act of 2011 would achieve both objectives and Congress should move quickly to pass this legislation.
I voted in support of H.R. 674, which promotes employment opportunities for veterans. Among other things, this bill combines the provisions of S. 951, the Hiring Heroes Act of 2011; H.R. 2433, the Veterans Opportunity to Work Act of 2011; and other veteran's employment tax credit provisions. This bill passed the House of Representatives on November 16, 2011 and was signed into law on November 21, 2011.
I have also cosponsored several pieces of legislation which positively affect veterans. H.R. 333, the Disabled Veterans Tax Termination Act will amend the federal military retired pay provisions. Veterans with a service-connected disability of less than 50% will be permitted to receive both retired pay and disability compensation. This legislation will also eliminate several provisions required phase in periods for receipt of retired pay and disability compensation. I am also a cosponsor of H.R. 2051, the Veterans Missing in America Act. This legislation directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to cooperate with organizations to assist in finding, identifying, and burying unclaimed remains of veterans in a national cemetery.