Congresswoman Slaughter's Record of Accomplishment
Congresswoman Slaughter has spent her career fighting for our nation's veterans. Not only is the Congresswoman committed to ensuring that these brave men and women and their families receive the best possible benefits and care, she recognizes that policies and government initiatives that help veterans transition from military to civilian life are more critical than ever.
Here is a snapshot of some of her recent work in Congress on behalf of the veterans living in the 25th Congressional District of New York.
It is the Congresswoman's priority to ensure that veterans not only have access to a comprehensive array of benefits and tools to help navigate civilian life, but that they receive these benefits in a timely fashion. Since 2007, Congress has provided funding for the addition of over 10,000 new claims processors at Veteran Affairs (VA) Regional Offices across the country in an attempt to streamline the rating process. Congress retroactively provided more than 185,000 service members and veterans with $500 every month they were forced to serve under stop-loss orders since 2001.
The Congresswoman is a cosponsor of H.R. 1092, the Military Retirees Health Care Protection Act. This legislation would prohibit increases in TRICARE co-pays, premiums and prescription drug benefits for military retirees.
The Congresswoman is an original cosponsor of H.R. 333, the Disabled Veterans Tax Termination Act. This legislation would address the problem of "concurrent receipt" eligibility for concurrent receipt and eliminating the current system's inequities. Under current law, many veterans are barred from collecting their VA disability compensation if they also receive military retirement pay, and face a dollar-for-dollar offset despite having earned both benefits while serving their country.
The Congresswoman is also a cosponsor of H.R. 812, the Agent Orange Equity Act of 2011. This legislation would clarify existing laws so that Blue Water veterans and every service member awarded the Vietnam Service medal, or who otherwise deployed to land, sea or air, in the Republic of Vietnam is fully covered by the comprehensive Agent Orange laws Congress passed in 1991. Currently, the VA requires Vietnam veterans to prove a "foot on land" occurrence in order to qualify for the presumptions of service-connection for related illnesses afforded under current law.
The Congresswoman is a cosponsor of H.R. 1855, the Veterans' Traumatic Brain Injury Rehabilitative Services' Improvements Act. This legislation would require VA to provide veterans who have severe TBI with ongoing rehabilitative care, including support services to maximize independence and quality of life. Specifically, the bill would clarify that the VA may not prematurely cut off needed rehabilitation services, and that these veterans can get the support they need, whether those are health-services or non-medical assistance, to achieve maximum independence and quality of life.
The Congresswoman is also a cosponsor of H.R. 930. This legislation would require the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to acknowledge the source of veterans' PTSD connected to sexual assault based on a doctor's certification that their PTSD can be linked to sexual assault.
In the 111th Congress, the Congresswoman supported the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act. The legislation removed barriers to women veterans seeking health care. For the first time in our history, the VA will pay for the care of newborn children and their mothers for up to seven days after birth. This legislation also enhanced treatment for victims of sexual trauma at the VA.
In February, the nation's unemployment rate for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan fell to 9.1 percent from 15.2 percent one year ago. The unemployment rate for all veterans also fell from 9.9 percent to 7.5 percent, lower than the national average. This is a clear sign that we are making much needed progress in helping veterans secure much-needed jobs following their return from service.
In November 2011, the Congresswoman was proud to support the Veterans Opportunity to Work to Hire Heroes Act or VOW to Hire Heroes Act when it passed the House and was signed into law by the President. This legislation provides tax credits for employers who hire unemployed veterans and veterans with service-connected disabilities.
Housing & Homeless
The Congresswoman is an original cosponsor of H.R. 2559, the Helping Homeless Heroes Act. This legislation reauthorizes and bolsters funding for several programs responsible for reducing the number of homeless servicemen and women on the street every night, from over 300,000 in 2003 to less than 150,000 in 2009.
Additionally, the Congresswoman joined 46 of her colleagues on November 14, 2011, in a letter to Chairman Latham and Ranking Member Olver on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Related Agencies requesting increased funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants program in final FY 12 appropriations.
On July 28, 2011 the Congresswoman announced a $987,499 grant to the Veterans Outreach Center in Rochester to help veterans and their families find and keep permanent housing. The funding comes as part of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) Program. This program is designed to assist private and non-profit organizations, such as The Veterans Outreach Center (VOC), that help struggling veterans by providing support services and promoting housing stability. The grant will go to serve approximately 500 participant households in the New York Counties of Orleans, Monroe, Wayne, Livingston, Ontario.
In 2008, the Congresswoman was proud to support the creation of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, to restore the promise of a full, four-year college education for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. This critical new program pays tuition and fees directly to the veterans school for up to the maximum undergraduate in-state tuition and fees at a public institution in your state. The legislation also created the Yellow Ribbon Program, which assists veterans who wish to obtain education from a private or out-of-state institution. The new GI Bill pays for a monthly housing allowance prorated to a student's rate of attendance based on the location of the school and pays an annual stipend to veterans to purchase books and supplies. For our men and women who were members of the Armed Forces on August 1, 2009, the Department of Defense is offering an opportunity to transfer your education benefits to your spouse or dependent children.
The Congresswoman is also a cosponsor of H.R. 614, the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill Dependent Coverage Improvement Act. This legislation amends the veterans' post-9/11 educational assistance program to extend the age of eligibility of dependent children for receipt of transferred educational assistance under the program to children under the age of 26. Under current law, the age is 23. This important legislation would expand educational opportunities for military families.
The Congresswoman is an original cosponsor of H.R. 2026, the SERV Act. This legislation would allow the Department of Justice to award state and local governments with grants to establish veterans' drug treatment courts or expand those already in place.
A 1999 report by the U.S. Interagency Council on the Homeless (USICH) noted that 76% of our veteran population experience alcohol, drug or mental health problems. Western New York has been the national leader in the development of Veterans' Court and this legislation would expand and promote this successful program.
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