Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) voted this week in support of several key pieces of legislation that would improve veterans’ quality of life, post-service career opportunities and access to health care.
“These bills improve the processes, institutions and agencies that serve the men and women who have served our nation,” Hartzler said. “I am proud to support these measures, which will do everything from improving veterans’ access to proactive, attentive mental health care to expanding job opportunities for our returning servicemen and women.”
The veterans legislation that passed the House of Representatives this week includes:
· The VA Management Alignment Act of 2017 (H.R. 1066): A 2015 assessment found the organizational structure of the Veterans Health Administration to be “intensely, unnecessarily complex” and rampant with mistrust and risk aversion. H.R. 1066 would require the VA to submit a report on its organizational structure to improve the agency’s management and hold the VA accountable to taxpayers and stakeholders.
· Veterans Care Financial Protection Act of 2017 (H.R. 3122): The VA’s pension program provides eligible low-income veterans with support for assisted living or in-home care. Reports have surfaced about scam artists targeting veterans who receive these benefits. H.R. 3122 would crack down on scam artists taking advantage of veterans receiving in-home care benefits.
· H.R. 3562: This bill protects veterans with service-related injuries by providing support to adapt their houses, allowing disabled veterans to maintain their independence in their own homes.
· H.R. 3656: This bill clarifies the rules regarding which dependents of veterans are eligible for VA-provided memorial headstones.
· The Veteran Urgent Access to Mental Health Care Act (H.R. 918): The stresses of military combat can contribute to maladaptive behaviors that could contribute to an other-than-honorable discharge. This bipartisan legislation expands VA mental health care services to veterans who received other-than-honorable discharges stemming from mental health concerns caused by the stresses of combat.
· Veterans Transplant Coverage Act (H.R. 1133): H.R. 1133 would authorize the VA to provide all care and services necessary for a veteran to receive an organ transplant from a live donor, regardless of whether the donor is eligible for VA health care.
· Veterans E-Health and Telemedicine Support (VETS) Act (H.R. 2123): This bill gives the VA Secretary the authority to allow VA providers to practice telemedicine across state lines, a benefit to rural veterans who do not live in close proximity to a VA facility.
· Veterans Increased Choice for Transplanted Organs & Recovery (VICTOR) Act (H.R. 2601): This bill would enable veterans who aren’t able to access care at a VA transplant center to seek care at a community transplant facility.
· The Securing Electronic Records for Veterans Ease (SERVE) Act (H.R. 3634): H.R. 3634 would make basic allowance for housing (BAH) documentation available online to all veterans, which they could show to landlords as proof of income, simplifying the home or apartment rental process.
· Veterans Fair Debt Notice Act (H.R. 3705): This bill would ensure that veterans receive and understand debt notices sent from the Veterans Benefits Administration, preventing veterans from falling into financial peril for failing to pay debts they didn’t know existed.
· Veteran Apprenticeship & Labor Opportunity Reform (VALOR) Act (H.R. 3949): H.R. 3949 streamlines the process to pay students under the GI Bill apprenticeship program, encouraging a more diverse range of companies to offer apprenticeships to veterans.
· The Veterans Crisis Line Study Act of 2017 (H.R. 4173): This bill calls for an assessment of the Veterans Crisis Line to determine its effectiveness in providing emergency mental health counseling to at-risk veterans.
In addition to supporting these measures, Hartzler recently introduced two bills—the VA Fairness in Hiring Act (H.R. 4037) and the VHA REHIRE Act (H.R. 3754)—to improve the administration of the VHA health care system.