NEW LEGISLATION TO HELP VETERANS WITH BURN INJURIES
U.S. Senator Larry Craig announced today that he is joining Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) in sponsoring legislation to provide financial help to veterans with severe burn injuries, and to make housing assistance programs available to servicemembers who are recuperating from the their burns - before they transition to veteran status.
The Veterans Housing Benefits Enhancement Act of 2007 (S. 1096) will provide up to $50,000 to help servicembers - those with severe burn injuries - modify their homes to meet their unique needs. The legislation will also provide up to $11,000 for the purchase or modification of an auto mobile or other vehicle for veterans with extensive burns.
Current law provides such benefits to those who have lost the use of their arms or legs, or who have lost their sight.
"There are unique home and auto modifications needed by those with serious burns. Our legislation updates existing programs to account for injuries we are seeing from our returning combat veterans," said Craig (R-Idaho), the top Republican on the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs. " I commend Sen. Cornyn for his leadership in bringing this legislation forward."
Last year Sen. Craig sponsored legislation - that is now law - which provides funding to modify the homes of the families (usually parents) of severely injured veterans. Prior to that change, veterans had to own the home in order to qualify for the grants.
"With the change we are proposing this year, payments will be made available to the families while the servicemember is still listed on active duty and recuperating at military hospitals like Walter Reed. Hopefully changes to the family house can be made before the veteran returns back home," Craig said.
The new legislation, if approved by Congress, will also require VA officials to provide Congress with a detailed report about other severely injured veterans who may not be covered by existing law. That report would be due by the end of this year.
"I am highly confident that we can pass this legislation quickly. It's needed now," Craig said.