Vietnam Veterans of America  
  The VVA Veteran® Online  
  homepipeAboutpipeArchivepipeSubscribepipeContactpipevva.orgVVA gifFacebookContact    
Government Affairs, March/April 2023 -   -  

Vietnam Veterans of America’s Legislative Priorities for the 118th Congress

The Government Affairs Committee is working to make positive changes in the lives of service members, veterans, caregivers, and survivors through advocacy, education, and outreach. Below are Vietnam Veterans of America’s legislative priorities for the 118th Congress.

The Fullest Possible Accounting: Vietnam Veterans of America has worked toward resolution of the POW/MIA issue since our founding in 1978, aiming for the fullest possible accounting of all POW/MIAs. We believe Congress must exercise close oversight to ensure that the maximum effort is made to continue that process.

Addressing the Legacy of Toxic Exposures: The Jeff Miller and Richard Blumenthal Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act of 2016, P.L. 114-15, in Subtitle C, Section 632, required the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to “seek to enter into an agreement with the National Academy of Medicine under which the National Academy of Medicine conducts an assessment on scientific research relating to the descendants of individuals with toxic exposure.” Congress must ensure that VA conducts the multigenerational toxic exposure study as required by the law.

P.L. 116-23 Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act 2019: Extended benefits to servicemembers that served in the territorial waters off the coast of Vietnam and were exposed to Agent Orange. VVA calls on Congress in the strongest terms to amend P.L. 116-23 to extend the nautical mile limitation sufficient to include U.S. Navy and Marine Corps Vietnam veterans who were assigned to the Vietnam Theater of Combat Operations or received the Vietnam Service Medal.

GAO Study Addressing Burn Pits in Vietnam: During the Vietnam War, hazardous waste removal sites emitted toxic chemicals into the air. VVA calls on the GAO through an act of Congress to study the likelihood of that exposure of these airborne hazards. If a study concludes airborne hazardous exposure causes service-connected presumptive conditions exposed veterans should receive back pay based on the date a claim was made or denied.

Implementation of the PACT Act: The PACT Act marks one of the greatest expansions of veterans healthcare and benefits in our generation. VVA opposes any attempts to cut appropriated funding from the Cost of War Toxic Exposure Funds section in the PACT Act. We have a right as veterans to ensure that Congress will not raid this program and put veterans in harm’s way.

Aging Veterans: The U.S. population is rapidly aging. The National Center for Veterans Analysis & Statistics reports that in 2020 almost 9 million veterans were 65 or older. VVA will work with Congress and the administration to remove barriers that aging veterans face in gaining access to VA care and treatment.

Women Veterans: VVA is proud to have been a moving force in the establishment of the VA Advisory Committee on Women Veterans and the Center for Women Veterans. With the increased number of women in the military, the needs of women veterans are rapidly changing. Maintaining quality programs, services, and benefits requires the constant oversight and attention of Congress.

Homeless Veterans: VVA recognizes that tremendous strides have been made by the VA in addressing and providing services for homeless veterans; yet this problem is still a national disgrace. VVA asks Congress and the administration to request that all agencies receiving federal funding for homeless programs report on gender, race, age, and military service on veterans they house as well as those who receive VBA and VHA benefits. This data will provide the VA with the necessary resources to avoid duplication of services and to reconfigure their resources to better serve aging homeless veterans.

Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers: Provides a wide range of benefits, including monthly stipends, reimbursement for travel costs, medical coverage, training, counseling, and respite-care caregivers for veterans who were severely injured during military service. But the program has been plagued by chaos and mismanagement. VVA calls on Congress and the administration to remove the seventy percent service connection requirement; discontinue assessment for triple and double amputees; adopt standardized practices across the VHA, and, most importantly; have transparency on data collection for veterans accepted and denied into the program by race, gender, and military service.

Rural Veterans: A disproportionate number of veterans lives in rural America. Fifty-eight percent (2.7 million) of America’s rural veterans are enrolled in the VA healthcare system. Of that number, 55 percent are 65 or older, and 56 percent are affected by a service-related conditions. Congress must expand access to accessible, culturally sensitive primary care, behavioral health, specialty care, and other support services for rural veterans, and improve coordination and co-management of veterans between the VA and community-based service systems; increase the availability of community-based services; and explore the use of technology and transportation programs to increase access and outreach.

Beneficiary Travel: The Veterans Transportation Service program was established in 2012 to help visually impaired, elderly, and immobilized veterans, as well as those living in remote or rural areas, with transportation to and from VA medical facilities. VVA is concerned that this program is not meeting the needs of severely disabled veterans and calls for Congress to hold an oversight hearing on this program.

Long-Term PTSD: If left untreated, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and other psychological traumas can affect war veterans to the point that, over time, even daily functions become seriously impaired. VVA calls on Congress to restart clinician-led continuing care groups for veterans with PTSD and other mental health issues to ensure the Vet Center Improvement Act is implemented, and to help veterans with PTSD in the process of working for discharge upgrades.

Veteran Suicide: VVA calls on Congress to enact a law requiring death certificates to indicate whether a deceased person served in the military and for the VA to establish a clear path to reimburse community providers whom the VA has referred veterans to for mental health care and treatment.

S.344, Major Richard Star Act: In 2004, Congress acknowledged the injustice of granting concurrent receipt for retirees with at least 20 years of service who are rated 50 percent disabled or greater. However, those rated 40 percent disabled and below and those unable to complete 20 years of service due to service-connected injury or illness are still subject to the offset. VVA will work with Congress to insure that the Major Richard Star Act is enacted into law in the 118th Congress.

H.R. 366, The Korean American VALOR Act: More than 2,800 South Korean military servicemembers who fought in the Vietnam War later relocated to the U.S. and are now American citizens. These men and women served in the Vietnam War theater from 1964-73 alongside their American allies. VVA will work with Congress to ensure that the Korean American VALOR Act is enacted into law.

On March 1, VVA National President Jack McManus presented the organization’s Policy Initiative and Legislative Priorities for the 118th Congress before the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees. The full testimony is posted on the VVA website: www.vva.org




-May/June 2022March/April 2022January/February 2022November/December 2021September/October 2021July/August 2021May/June 2021March/April 2021January/February 2021November/December 2020September/October 2020July/August 2020May/June 2020March/April 2020January/February 2020November/December 2019September/October 2019July/August 2019
2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016
| 2014 | 2013 | 2012
| 2010 | 2009 | 2008
| 2006 | 2005 | 2004
| 2002 | 2001 | 2000

----Find us on Facebook-Online Only:Arts of War on the Web
Book in Brief-

Basic Training Photo Gallery
Basic Training Photo Gallery
2013 & 2014 APEX® Award Winner

    Departments     University of Florida Smathers Libraries  
  - -      
  VVA logoThe VVA Veteran® is a publication of Vietnam Veterans of America. ©All rights reserved.
8719 Colesville Road, Suite 100, Silver Spring, MD 20910 | www.vva.org | contact us


Geoffrey Clifford Mark F. Erickson Chuck Forsman