|Vietnam Veterans of America|
|Government Affairs, November/December 2022|
Getting Back to Work After the Midterm Elections
Now that the midterm elections are completed, it is time for us to get back on track.
The first task for the committee and for chapters and state councils is to update our phone rosters and contact lists. After the rosters and call lists are addressed, please make sure that the Government Affairs Committee receives a copy. We need to have contact information for chapter and state council individuals who are working on legislative issues.
Take the time to make personal contact with your newly elected officials and their office personnel. Make sure that they receive the data on the number of veterans in their district. If they don’t have a veterans taskforce, offer to help them start one. If they are not familiar with current legislation dealing with veterans, offer to help them. Helping them get their feet on the ground will pay dividends.
There are currently several pieces of veterans legislation that should be monitored. Consequently, the individuals handling legislation at the state and chapter level need to stay in contact with VVA national. It is important for us as an organization to keep the membership informed. However, we cannot accomplish that task without the support of the state council and chapter presidents.
DECEMBER COLA BOOST
H.R. 7846, Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2022, now public law 117-191, will provide an increase in VA benefits, including disability compensation, clothing allowances, dependency. and indemnity compensation. The increase will be 8.7 percent, the same as Social Security. The adjustment will go into effect on December 1. The first checks reflecting the new rate will be issued on Dec. 31.
VA CAREGIVERS PROGRAM
On October 1, the VA's Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers was expanded to include eligible veterans and family caregivers of all eras. Previously, it was only available to eligible veterans who served on or after September 11, 2001.
The President recently signed the following pieces of veterans legislation into law:
When the House and Senate return for the December 2022 session, they will take up the FY 23 National Defense Authorization Act, H.R. 7900 and S.4543, one of the twelve appropriations bills required by law to be enacted on December 31, or face another Continuing Resolution into the next Congress.
Congress in the past has always enacted the National Defense Authorization Act prior to its deadline. For this bill, VVA has sent support letters to both chambers to include H.R. 324, Korean American VALOR Act; S.1994, Vet Center Improvement Act of 2021; and H.R. 7972, The USS Frank E. Evans Act in the final passages of the FY23 NDAA.
We are hopeful that Congress will also pass S. 2604, Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2022 by the end of the session, so that the VA can fully implement the provisions in the PACT Act.
PACT ACT ELIGIBILITY
The new law makes veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam from January 9, 1962 - May 7, 1975; Guam or American Samoa, (or in the territorial waters) from January 9, 1963, to July 31, 1980; Cambodia or Minot or Krek, Kampong Cham Providence from April 16, 1969, to April 30, 1969; Thailand (Anu US or Royal Thai-base) from January 9, 1962, to June 30, 1976; Laos from December 1, 1965, to September 29, 1969; and Johnston Stoll (or on a ship that called there) from January 1, 1972, to September 30, 1972, eligible to enroll in VA healthcare.
The law also expands eligibility for healthcare and benefits for veterans who participated in certain nuclear response PR cleanup activities in Eniwetok Atoll, from January 1, 1977, to December 31, 1980; Palomares, Spain, from January 17, 1966, to March 31, 1967; and Thule Greenland, from January 21, 1968, to September 25, 1968.
The PACT added two new Agent Orange Presumptive conditions: Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) and high blood pressure (hypertension). We encourage you to reach out to a VVA Service Officer to learn how to apply for these benefits under the new law, and to go to https://www.va.gov/resources/the-pact-act-and-your-va-benefits to learn more abouth these earned benefits
The VBA will begin processing these benefits claims in January 2023 and we encourage all to apply because the effective date of the new presumptive benefits was August 10, 2022.
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