By Debbie Gregory.
A slew of measures were recently passed in the House, including a bill that would allow for identification cards for all Honorably Discharged Veterans, and another bill pertaining to the accountability of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
The new accountability bill, H.R. 1038 – The Ensuring VA Employee Accountability Act, was sponsored by Congressman Ryan Costello from Pennsylvania. This measure would require VA officials to maintain all written counsels, reprimands and punishments that employees receive as long as they work for the department. Under the current set of rules, records are erased after three years. Advocates for Veterans have argued that the current policy allows problem employees to continue to move around within the vast VA system, obtaining promotions with little consequence for any previous incidents of misconduct.
H.R. 1038 is in line with other efforts on Capitol Hill aiming to improve upon punishment and dismissal rules at the VA. Throughout the past year and a half, there have only been a handful of high-profile firings in the wake of nationwide scandals within the VA. Many members of Congress believe that the VA should have an easier time dismissing, demoting, or otherwise punishing its employees.
The Veteran’s I.D. Card Act– H.R. 91 was sponsored by Florida Congressman Vern Buchanan. This measure would direct the Secretary of the VA to issue official identification cards any Honorably Discharged Veteran, instead of only those who currently qualify for health care and financial benefits through the VA.
H.R. 91 calls for ID cards to be issued at the request of the Veteran, with the fee being paid for by the Veteran. The bill states that such identification would make it easier for all Veterans to receive special discounts and offerings provided by public and private institutions through standarized verification.
Other bills that were approved by the House on May 18, 2015 were: The Service disabled Veteran Owned Small Business Relief Act– H.R. 1313; The Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Programs Reauthorization Act of 2015– H.R. 474; and The Vulnerable Veterans Housing Reform Act of 2015– H.R. 1816.
All of these bills have made it through the House and were introduced into the Senate on May 19th. These days, it seems as though passing Veteran legislation is the only legislation that politicians agree on. With any luck, these great provisions for Veterans make it through the Senate, and onto the president’s desk to be signed into law.
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Military Connection: Several Veteran Bills Pass in the House: By Debbie Gregory