Veterans

America has a special covenant with veterans, with the men and women who wear and have worn the uniform, who put their lives on hold, who fight and, above all, who sacrifice on our behalf.  Senator Wyden will never stop fighting to keep that covenant and to ensure that our veterans receive the health care and benefits they’ve earned in service.  He believes is simply unacceptable for our veterans to be waiting weeks for doctors’ appointments, to face employment discrimination, or to wade through bureaucratic red tape for answers.

The GI Bill Fairness Act  

In August 2017, Congress enacted Senator Wyden’s legislation as part of a veterans education package.  Wyden’s  provisions restore GI Bill education benefits to wounded members of the National Guard and Reserve dating back to the September 11 attacks.  Federal law previously prevented these service members from earning the benefits during their recovery and rehabilitation.

“Drill Pay” debts  

Guardsmen and Reservists cannot collect veterans benefits and drill pay for the same days and must inform the government which one to shut off.  The VA had been processing multiple years at once, abruptly cutting off benefits to recoup what a veteran owed for several years.  At Senator Wyden’s urging, VA announced in March 2016 that it would work with veterans to establish a manageable repayment plan.

Work Opportunity Tax Credit  

The bipartisan Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015 includes an extension of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit through 2019.  The tax credit is designed to incentivize employers to hire veterans.

The Gold Star Fathers Act  

In October 2015, Congress enacted Ron’s bill to make a federal hiring preference gender neutral.  The government has long recognized the sacrifices of Gold Star families by granting a federal hiring preference to unmarried mothers of service members killed or totally disabled in action.  Wyden’s legislation now extends that same preference to unmarried fathers.

The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act  

Senator Wyden supported the Clay Hunt SAV Act, which President Barack Obama signed into law in February 2015.  The law is designed to improve a range of suicide prevention services for veterans, including access to information and counseling and better training for mental health professionals.  It  also requires annual audits of VA’s mental health and suicide prevention programs.

Joint Transition Assistance Program (JTAP)  

Funding for Oregon’s JTAP lapsed at the end of 2014, threatening the future of this important program to help service members and veterans find jobs.  At Senator Wyden’s urging, the National Guard Bureau stepped in and provided critical emergency resources just as nearly 1,000 Oregon National Guardsmen were returning from combat.

Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act  

Ron supported a bipartisan VA reform law in the wake of the 2014 scandal involving access times and secret waiting lists.  The law created a $10 billion Veteran’s Choice Fund for veterans to seek care in their local communities if they live more than 40 miles from a VA facility or if they cannot get a VA appointment within 30 days.  The law also provided more money for VA to hire physicians and staff.  Finally, the law also empowered the VA Secretary to transfer or fire senior executives for poor performance or misconduct while preserving basic due process standards for employees.  Since 2014, Wyden has supported a number of bills that would improve Choice, including legislation to require the VA to offer community care to veterans who live more than 40 miles from a VA facility that offers the services they need rather than 40 miles from any VA facility.

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