Before breaking for the August recess, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Formerly Owned Resources for Veterans to Express Thanks for Service Act (FOR VETS Act), a bipartisan, bicameral bill introduced by Senators Susan Collins, Patrick Leahy and Tom Carper in the Senate and Representatives Dan Benishek and Julia Brownley in the House of Representatives. The bill has also passed the House and will now be sent to the President to be signed into law.
The FOR VETS Act will amend existing law to make veterans groups eligible to receive surplus property, such as computers, trucks and home appliances, being donated by the federal government. The General Services Administration (GSA) oversees the distribution of surplus property to eligible organizations, which currently includes medical institutions, providers of assistance to the homeless, universities, and childcare facilities. The bill has been endorsed by the American Legion.
"We should always look for ways to demonstrate our gratitude for the sacrifices our veterans have made on behalf of our nation," Senator Susan Collins said. "This legislation will allow veterans groups, which improve the lives of our nation's heroes each and every day, to enjoy the same access to surplus government property that other groups do."
"Our nation's veterans deserve and have earned the ongoing efforts by our government to provide them with high-quality care and support, whether through healthcare, workforce training or education," said Senator Patrick Leahy. "Opening the distribution of surplus government property to veterans groups is just one more way we can pay our debt of thanks for their service."
"We should do all we can to ensure that our service members have access to the resources they need when they come home," said Chairman Tom Carper, a Navy veteran. "This common sense legislation will give veterans and veterans' groups access to the federal government's surplus property -- from personal computers to appliances and more. Though this may be only a small effort, I hope that in some way it can help our returning heroes live happy, healthy, successful lives."
"From refrigerators to use at a local post to spare vehicles for parades, access to surplus property helps the veterans' organizations up in Northern Michigan better serve their members. But there's unnecessary Washington regulations that are preventing our veterans from getting access to these items. This common sense bill will get rid of these needless federal rules and ensure veterans have access to the surplus items they deserve. 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. I am hopeful now that this legislation is heading for the president's desk it will soon become law," said Congressman Dan Benishek (MI-01), a general surgeon who worked in the Iron Mountain VA Medical Center for 20 years.
"For the sacrifices America's veterans made for our country, they deserve every bit of support we can provide them," said Congresswoman Julia Brownley (CA-26). "This simple bill will ensure veteran's groups have access to the surplus items they rightly deserve and others already receive to better serve our veterans across our country."