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Early Access to Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Benefits Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. FILNER. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill (H.R. 2239) to amend title 38, United States Code, to expand eligibility for vocational rehabilitation benefits administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, as amended.


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

This bill, the Early Access to Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Benefits Act, was authored by my good friend from Arkansas (Mr. Boozman), and we appreciate his efforts over many years on behalf of our veterans. I was glad that we could get this bill to the floor today. It is the last of seven that say thank you to our Nation's veterans as we come up on Memorial Day.

This would extend vocational rehabilitation and employment benefits to members of the Armed Forces who are determined to have a disability incurred while on active duty of at least 10 percent and likely to be discharged from service due to that disability. The service members would still have to qualify under usual vocational rehabilitation and employment criteria of at least 20 percent, with an employment handicap of 10 percent with a serious employment handicap.

H.R. 2239 will help veterans begin their rehab earlier and will be very beneficial to those veterans in extended convalescence which could be over a year. This is the ideal time, as veterans will still be on active duty, continuing to receive their military pay, making it easier to support his or her family. One of the factors that leads to service members dropping out of vocational rehabilitation and employment is the need to support their families.

Due to the severity of the injury or injuries, most veterans will be expected to experience a drop in pay once they are discharged. However, if a veteran begins their rehab immediately, they may be able to enter the job market much earlier.

I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 2239. It is an important bill. This is the least we can do for these brave men and women. It will ease the transition from the military to civilian employment market. And, again, I thank Mr. Boozman for his leadership on this issue.


Mr. FILNER. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days in which to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous material on both H.R. 2199 and H.R. 2239, as amended.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from California?

There was no objection.

Mr. FILNER. Mr. Speaker, we have come to the end of a day of thanks to our Nation's veterans. We have seven bills, all of which will go to really improve our services, our health care, our sense of commitment to our Nation's veterans. We have had seven good bills today, and I think they will all be approved by this body.

I was a professor of European history before I became a Congressman, and I used to talk about the Roman world. And there was this famous Roman senator named Cato. And Cato would end all his speeches, no matter on what subject, which they might be about the sewer system of Rome or they might be about gladiator games or war against the Parthians or whoever, but he would always end his speech, no matter what the thing was, and everybody would expect it and he sort of became the laughingstock of the senate because they would know he would end all his speeches with ``and we must destroy Carthage.'' And nobody paid any attention to his speeches because they were all waiting for that conclusion no matter on what subject.

So with that little history lesson, I urge my colleagues to unanimously support H.R. 2239.


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