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Legislative Priorities

Additional Priorities

Women Veterans

Access to Care: Improve accessibility and ubiquity of women’s health care by increasing resourcing of essential services, adapting facility operations, and optimizing channels of care like telehealth and the Community Care Network.

Transition: Enable greater economic opportunity through improved employment counseling and financial education; strengthen social support through programs that facilitate peer connection, mentorship, and professional networks; and streamline connections to VA benefits and care.

Military Sexual Trauma (MST): Enact greater coordination across agencies and disciplines to improve awareness, accessibility, and quality of care for MST survivors.

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WWP Women Warriors Initiative Full Report

WWP Women Warriors Initiative Executive Summary

Toxic Exposure

Access to Care: Grant VA health care enrollment eligibility to any veteran who suffered toxic exposures while in service, regardless of their service-connected disability claim status.

Presumption: Create a list of presumptive disabilities for veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxic substances.

Concession of Exposure: Concede exposure to burn pits and other airborne hazards for all veterans who served in areas where they are known to have been used, since veterans often lack documentation of exactly where and when they were exposed.

A Scientific Framework: Ensure VA adopts a framework to establish new presumptive disabilities in a timely manner based on scientific data.

Education and Awareness: Develop a training module to ensure VA providers and benefits personnel can properly identify, treat, and assess the impact of illnesses related to toxic exposures, and require a toxic exposure questionnaire at the beginning of every VA primary care appointment.

*All of these priorities would be accomplished by the passage of the COST of War Act, introduced by Senator Jon Tester, and the Honoring our PACT Act, introduced by Representative Mark Takano.

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Whole Health and Wellness

Mental Health/Suicide Prevention: Build alignment with broader mental health care access initiatives outside of VA, including training more providers, increasing reimbursement, lowering stigma, and improving military cultural competence.

Complex Case Coordination: Improve access, reimbursement rates, and hours available for skilled and unskilled home health care, the availability of respite services for caregivers, and the coordination of benefits across TRICARE, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), and other health care options.

Substance Use Disorders (SUDs): Promote stronger care and coordination for co-occurring SUDs and mental health disorders, including by enhancing internal VA capacity and post-care planning.

Brain Health: Support ongoing and future research at Translational Research Center for TBI and Stress Disorders (TRACTS), and ensure a strong continuum of policies across prevention, documentation, diagnosis, rehabilitation, and treatment across VA and DoD.

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Mental Health Needs: Expand caregiver access to VA mental health care to ensure that military
and veteran caregivers are able to properly perform their caregiving duties.

Respite Care: Remove barriers and increase funding for VA and community programs to help caregivers find more opportunities and time for self-care and respite.

Oversight of Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC) Expansion: Monitor the impact of PCAFC expansion on warriors who may be ineligible despite their high needs.
Compensation Reform

Financial Security

Employment and Homelessness: Provide separating service members with the necessary tools to successfully transition to civilian life, ensure that all veterans have access to the job training, education, and apprenticeships they need, and continue to advocate for robust VA transitional housing and voucher programs to ensure that no veteran suffers homelessness.

Concurrent Receipt: Introduce and pass the Major Richard Star Act, which would allow former service members, who were medically retired from the military with less than 20 years of service (Chapter 61 retirees) and who are eligible for Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC), to concurrently receive both military retired pay and VA disability compensation with no offset.

Disability Benefits Stability: Reduce the timeline for static disability designations. Currently, for those with static disabilities – which the VA considers permanent by virtue of their nature, history, and severity – their service-connection becomes permanent after five years, their static designation may not be removed after ten years, and their disability rating cannot fall below the rating that exists after twenty years. These figures should be lowered to five, five, and ten years, respectively.

Transition: Pursue a more thorough, well-planned transition process with greater coordination across federal and state departments and agencies.

Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) Memorial

Global War on Terrorism Memorial Location Act: Introduce and pass the Global War on Terrorism Memorial Location Act to establish a National Global War on Terrorism Memorial on the National Mall within the Reserve.

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Additional Priorities

Veterans Expedited TSA Screening Safe Travel Act

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.

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The Major Richard Star Act

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.

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Specially Adaptive Housing

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.

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Brian Neuman VA Clothing Allowance Improvement Act and Mark O’Brien VA Clothing Allowance Improvement Act

For veterans facing a new life with prosthetic limbs or orthopedic devices, simple parts of life like clothing can require fresh perspective. Newly purchased clothing might require custom tailoring for their prosthetics, and wardrobe pieces can be easily damaged by their devices or skin medicine. While these changes become a part of everyday life, veterans are currently required to re-apply for the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) clothing allowance benefit each year — an unnecessarily burdensome process for veterans with injuries and adaptations that will not change. The Brian Neuman VA Clothing Allowance Improvement Act and the Mark O’Brien VA Clothing Allowance Improvement Act will automatically re-enroll qualifying veterans, eliminating a burden for veterans who are currently required to re-apply each year.

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