For many of America’s wounded veterans, everyday tasks can be a burden. Their own homes may even present mobility and accessibility challenges. To adapt homes to accommodate disabled veterans’ needs, the Department of Veterans Affairs provides specially adapted housing (SAH) grants to veterans with certain permanent and total service-connected disabilities. VA SAH grants allow veterans with disabilities to purchase or construct an adaptive home, or modify an existing home, to accommodate a disability. Read more on Specially Adaptive Housing.
Traveling through airport security with prosthetics, wheelchairs, or other mobility aids presents a challenge. The Veterans Expedited TSA Screening Safe Travel Act will provide many severely injured and disabled veterans a more dignified experience when passing through security checkpoints at our nation’s airports.
Historically, the Department of Veterans Affairs was designed to serve a mostly male veteran population. Today, women veterans are one of the fastest growing demographics in the veteran community, but they face challenges when transitioning from military to civilian status. The Department of Veterans Affairs should implement policies that more closely focus on services for women veterans.
For thousands of service members who served after 9/11, exposure to environmental and chemical hazards such as burn pits, depleted uranium, and toxic fragments have resulted in real and potential health risks. Congress must prioritize studying and addressing any harm to veterans that may have been caused by toxic exposures.
When veterans are discharged from the military due to combat-related injuries, they become eligible for both military retired pay from the Department of Defense (DoD), and disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Unfortunately, their DOD retired pay is currently reduced by the amount of their VA disability compensation, causing them to lose a portion of the benefits they earned through their service. In 2004, Congress passed a law allowing retirees with at least 20 years of service who are rated at least 50 percent disabled to collect their full DOD retired pay and their full VA disability compensation benefits with no offset. The Major Richard Star Act would allow veterans who were retired for combat-related injuries with under 20 years of service to do the same.
Our country is experiencing an epidemic of suicide which impacts veterans at a rate nearly twice the national average. Despite many sincere efforts, the suicide rate in America continues to climb, and we need a public health approach to help prevent suicides. To address this crisis, the VA needs partners in the community now more than ever. Mental health treatment works but we must also help veterans live healthy, happy, and productive lives. VA cannot do this alone, and this is why we are supporting the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act (S.785). This proposal would empower the VA to launch a grant program to reach more veterans in the communities where they live, increase their resilience, and improve their psychological well-being.