U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Tom Carper (D-DE) and Congressman Dan Benishek (R-MI-01) and Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D-CA-26) have introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation that would improve veterans groups' access to surplus personal property donated by the federal government.
The General Services Administration (GSA) currently oversees the distribution of surplus property to eligible organizations, such as medical institutions, providers of assistance to the homeless, universities, and childcare facilities. This property includes such items as computers, trucks, and home appliances. The Formerly Owned Resources for Veterans to Express Thanks for Service Act (FOR VETS Act) would amend existing law to allow veterans groups to stand alone as a category of eligible groups that can apply to receive surplus goods.
"We should always look for ways to demonstrate our gratitude for the sacrifices our veterans have made on behalf of our nation," said Senator Collins. "This legislation would allow veterans groups, which enhance the lives of countless servicemen and women each day, to enjoy the same access to surplus government property that other groups do. It's one more way to say "thank you" to those Americans who have worn the uniform and to their families."
"This change will help us achieve the original intent of the Leahy-Collins FOR VETS Act, to make excess federal equipment more available to veterans and veterans service organizations," said Senator Leahy. "I thank Senator Carper for lending his support to a commonsense effort that won't cost taxpayers a single cent more but that will greatly benefit those who sacrificed so much for us
"As a veteran, I know the sacrifices our service members make in defending our nation," said Senator Carper, Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. "These brave men and women do so much to protect us at home and abroad. We have a responsibility to ensure that they have the resources and support they need once they return home. This bill would help do just that. By allowing the Federal government to donate much-needed surplus items like cars, computers, and desks to veterans organizations, we can help repay our debt of gratitude to our service members and better equip those here at home with the tools they need to find a good job and live productive lives."
"From a refrigerator for use at a local post to a vehicle for a Memorial Day parade, access to surplus property will help our veterans' organizations better serve their members. In this tough economy, our veterans' organizations are trying to stretch their bucks a little further and being able to receive surplus property will make that easier. This bipartisan measure we are introducing is a simple fix to a simple problem," said Dr. Dan Benishek (MI-01), a surgeon who worked at VA Hospital in Upper Michigan for 20 years.
"Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) provide critical services to our nation's veterans and their families and I'm proud to join my colleague Congressman Benishek in introducing legislation that will make available the additional resources these organizations need to continue to do the great work they do," said Congresswoman Julia Brownley (CA-26).
The bipartisan, bicameral FOR VETS Act is supported by the American Legion and the National Association of State Agencies for Surplus Property.