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Immigration, Tax/SS/Insurance & Legal, Death & Survivors, Pay & Finances, & Tricare.

James Tichacek's Veterans Information Bulletins
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The following summarized and edited Veteran's RAO Bulletins are provided by:
Lt. James "EMO" Tichacek, USN (Ret)
Director, Retiree Activities Office & U.S. Embassy Warden Baguio City RP
Email: raoemo@sbcglobal.net (PRI) or raoemo@mozcom.com (Alternate)
Web: http://post_119_gulfport_ms.tripod.com/rao1.html
Tel: (63-74) 442-7135 or FAX 1-801-760-2430
AL/AMVETS/CORMV/DAV/FRA/NCOA/PRA/TROA/USDR/VFW/VVA Member


Annual Reminder for 2007

    All Hands: This notice is to inform you of the Baguio Retiree Assistance Office (RAO) mission; the availability of informational assistance to fellow veterans; and the purpose of the Director's associated Newsletter. The service provides a POC for anyone who has queries on Veteran issues and/or residence in this Geographic area. It also provides a means for Veterans to keep abreast of benefit changes or pending Veteran related legislation.
    Bulletin Updates are sent twice a month...on the 1st & 15th. Twice a month allows time for readers to digest the info and make any inquiries they may have. It is understood that not every article that goes out is applicable to every vet but over a period of time every reader should find some article(s) of interest to him or her personally. Unfortunately, the Bulletin cannot be sent to AOL users. It does not meet the criteria of AOL's big Brother policy of deciding what their readers are allowed to receive. Request anyone currently in receipt of the Bulletin receiving duplicate copies or no longer desiring to receive it provide suitable notification. If you decide you no longer want the Bulletin feel free to drop me a line in the future if you ever need any assistance.
     The Baguio Retiree Assistance Office [RAO] is basically an "answer place" for all Veterans and Expats in addition to providing U.S. mail services, both Military and Commercial; Forms; U.S. & RP Government Services; etc.. There are no longer any Bases in the Philippines and the Embassy is 180 km away...so over the last 14 years it has become the unofficial source for just about everything related to Government Programs impacting on those residing in this Geographic area. Because of our remote location...the majority of Veterans' assistance is provided by email. All questions received via email are responded to with either an answer or a source of where to obtain an answer. If you do not receive an answer within 72 hours, your inquiry was probably never received...and you should re-transmit. The variety of questions, and subsequent research to answer them, has resulted in the development of the 1,700+ page Bulletin Index and associated Email Directory of over 50,000 email addees for dissemination of the newsletter to other RAO/RSO's, Military Fraternal Organizations and interested Veterans worldwide. The objective is to provide Veteran related information to at least one member of every Veteran Group worldwide who can act as a point of contact to pass on any information felt germane to that Organization's membership. Through their involvement, the Bulletin info presently reaches approximately 500,000 Veterans and/or Dependents.
     Our RAO meets the criteria, and is recognized as an "Independent RAO" and source of Veteran related info by the Navy Personnel Command. However the Bulletin is not an "Official" DoD sanctioned newsletter. The articles provide items taken from a wide variety of sources that have been edited or editorialized for retransmission. They also include info to ease transition into the Philippines for those who may be considering relocating there. The information contained therein is just that...informational (FYI). The objective is only to PASS THE WORD in order to keep our Military Community informed. It is the responsibility of readers to verify exactly how information applies to them if they intend to expend funds or time in following up on the data provided in the articles. Unless you have questions concerning Veteran's issues to be answered, there is no need for comments. Although it's nice to get the occasional "thanks for the info", it's not necessary, and just adds to the 50+ emails I receive daily. I do not send out jokes - prayers - religious material or music - chain letters - photos - etc., so please reciprocate by not sending these to me. Nor do I normally participate in "political stuff" unless it is essential to an article being presented in the Bulletin. I would greatly appreciate that you not forward personal political comments/beliefs/prejudices, but I am always open to anything that could benefit other Veterans.
Updates are sent either Bcc or via a Newsletter Mailing List provider, so recipients are not bothered with large headers nor have their email addee revealed to others. If you want to know if anybody else in your organization is receiving the Bulletin just ask. Articles contain subjects of interest to all Veterans regardless of Geographic location. The existing addees on the directory are about 2%:98% local vs. worldwide. The Bulletin content is for use in any way you see fit and retransmit is encouraged. Sources are provided wherever possible so readers can re-validate info if they desire. The primary source is always listed first and if multiple sources are used it is indicated by "++" after the primary source in the source line. Sometimes my Internet servers are inhibited in their ability to send to other servers worldwide because of filters incorporated by these servers to block spam. However I can always receive incoming messages. If you do not receive your Bulletin just let me know. Request all communications be sent to my primary email addee raoemo@sbcglobal.net at present when I am in the Philippines, even though you may be receiving the Bulletin from some other addee. The email addee of any veteran or military fraternal organization can be added to the directory if desired. It only takes a click on the "Unsubscribe" line at the end of each Bulletin to drop anyone off later if they find the Updates are of no use to them. Of course, there are no charges, advertisements, or solicitations associated this service.
     If you are interested in other articles contained within the Bulletin, they can be forwarded via email. Attachments sent should be virus free, since it is our policy NEVER to open incoming attachments because they might contain a virus. My installed Norton Anti Virus program tells me about 2% do.
     At  http://post_119_gulfport_ms.tripod.com/rao1.html  you can view the current and review past Bulletins sent in the last few years. Bear in mind that the articles shown in these Bulletins were only valid at the time they were written (normally indicated in the source line) , and may have since been updated. At this site, you can also find the Bulletin Index to identify any articles you may want to recall. They will be provided upon email request to the email links shown above.

"Mabuhay from Baguio City, Philippines"
Lt. James "EMO" Tichacek USN (Ret)
Director RAO Baguio

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CURRENT RAO BULLETINS

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ALL RAO BULLETINS INDEX


 PLEASE
NOTE
The Internet links on this page were good links when each Bulletin was added to this
page. However...over time...the links may have changed.  This is beyond our control.


Current Bulletins

1 November 2007
Medicare Part D Update 17 (New Legislation.)
VA Budget 2008 Update 09 (New Approach.)
VA Diverting Patients (Nationwide Problem.)
VA Guardian (Policy)
VA Tidbits (Did You know?)
Biotape Refunds ($2.5 Million Available.)
VA Flag-folding Recitation Ban (AL Will Ignore.)
VA Flag-folding Recitation Ban Update 01 (Ban Clarified.)
Agent Orange Lawsuits Update 10 (Ramifications)
VA Flu Shots Update 01 (48% Death Reduction.)
Tricare Flu Immunization (Get It Now.)
VA Secretary Update 03 (Nomination Needed.)
VA Secretary Update 04 (Bush Nominates Peake.)
DOD Disability Evaluation System Update 07 (Pilot/Future Plans.)
Pennsylvania Vet Agency (Separate Existing Department.)
VA MRSA Testing Update 01 (Combating Staph Infection.)
USAF Retiree Funerals (Policy Changes.)
Reserve GI Bill Update 07 (Guard GI Bill Snafu.)
New Medicare Reimbursement Rule (Preventable Complications.)
DoD Retiree Pay Offset (Benefits Program.)
VA MRSA Testing Update 01 (Combating Staph Infection.)
VA Comp Payment Disparity Update 09 (House Examines.)
Grayhound Discounts (Honoring Servicemembers.)
Tricare Uniform Formulary Update 22 (Change Announcement.)
COLA 2008 Update 08 (2.3% effective 1 DEC 07.)
Pneumonia Vaccination (Protection for Life.)
Veterans Day Free Meals Update 01 (Restaurant Offers.)
Windows Vista Boycott (Microsoft Will Not Replace With XP.)
Tricare Breast Cancer MRI’s (Coverage Added.)
Saluting the Flag Update 01 (Status of S1877.)
VA Cemetery Texas Update 01 (Looking For Space.)
Veterans Mental Health Bill (Hearing’s Result.)
VA Pain Care (Bill to Enhance.)
VA Claim Backlog Update 12 (Cut Waiting Time 2/3.)
Army Combat Action Badge (Stuck In Committee.)
VA Budget 2008 Update 08 (Rhetorical Firefight Escalates.)
Cell-Phone Scare Message (FTC Debunks.)
Remote Infrared Audible Signs (VA Hospital Use.)
Alzheimer’s Update 04 (Progress Cited In Diagnosis.)
VA Fraud Update 02 (Concealed 2nd Marriage.)
VA Cancer Reporting Policy (Hampering Research.)
FTC Fraud Survey (30.2 Million Adults Defrauded.)
Vet Legislation Status 29 Oct 07

Editor Note:  I have ceased using the email addee raoemo@mozcom.com because spam messages at this addee have reached 150 daily. My email addee raoemo@sbcglobal.net will be the primary addee I will be monitoring after 15 SEP. I am activating raoemo1@mozcom.net as a backup in the event communications via the primary addee should become disrupted.

Editor Note 2: Tricare initiated coverage for the Shingles vaccine effective 19 OCT 07.

Medicare Part D Update 17: Three lawmakers have introduced legislation in the House and Senate to establish a Medicare-administered drug benefit that would compete with private plans currently offered under Part D. The law’s introduction was announced by Representatives Marion Berry (D-AR) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) at an 23 OCT press call scheduled to publicize both the legislation and a report by the Medicare Rights Center (MRC) and Consumers Union assessing the shortcomings of private Part D plans and the advantages of providing a public option. The Medicare Prescription Drug Savings and Choice Act of 2007, sponsored by Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) in the Senate and co-sponsored by Representatives Schakowsky and Berry in the House, would offer a public drug plan administered by Medicare with a nationally uniform premium, formulary (list of drugs covered) and cost-sharing requirements. The legislation would require the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to use the breadth of the nationwide formulary to negotiate lower drug prices from pharmaceutical companies.

    According to the MRC & Consumers Union report, The Best Medicine: A Drug Coverage Option Under Original Medicare, the privatized delivery of Medicare drug coverage has resulted in coverage gaps created by inconsistent formularies and an ineffective appeals process. Changing formularies and premiums has meant instability in coverage for people with Medicare, particularly those with low incomes, according to the report. In a related development, the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform released a report showing the high administrative costs associated with using insurance companies to deliver Part D coverage. Total administrative costs for Part D amounted to 9.8% of the total cost of the program. In comparison, overhead and administrative costs amount to only 1.7% of the cost of original Medicare.

    In testimony given at an 16 OCT hearing held by the House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittees on Health and Oversight it was revealed that private Medicare plan benefit packages are not adequately regulated by the federal government, resulting in inadequate financial protections for plan enrollees and unpredictable cost-sharing requirements for expensive health services. The subcommittees were convened in response to a JUL 07 report by the GAO, Required Audits of Limited Value, which found that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services had not met the legal requirement to audit at least one-third of private Medicare plans. Instead, the proportion of companies audited decreased from 23.6% in 2001 to 13.9% in 2006. Paul Precht, deputy policy director at the Medicare Rights Center, provided testimony on the lack of federal regulation of plan benefit packages, which allows plans to charge higher prices than Original Medicare for high-cost services and carve-out specific services, such as chemotherapy and other doctor-administered drugs, from yearly out-of-pocket spending limits. [Source: Medicare Watch newsletter 30 Oct 07 ++]

VA Budget 2008 Update 09: In a risky change of strategy, Democrats are pursuing a plan that would dare President Bush to veto a massive bill that combines spending for veterans care, education and the Pentagon. The package, which combines three bills into one, would total almost $675 billion in discretionary spending for the fiscal year that began 1 OCT. Of this, more than 70% is defense-related. The rest is expected to incorporate about $14 billion more for domestic priorities than Mr. Bush has requested. The plan is a significant tactical change. Democrats had been expected to treat the three bills individually and send them to the White House in a sequence that allowed the party to spell out its priorities. Supporters of the new, more-unified approach say it better serves the party's political message by melding national security and domestic issues. But they also concede it could prove a confrontational, gamble that risks alienating Republican moderates whose support is vital if Congress is to convince the White House to negotiate over domestic spending. Education, veterans' health care and medical-research programs would most benefit from the added $14 billion. That is about a third of the growth in defense spending over 2007 -- a contrast Democrats will try to draw in the unified bill.

    At the same time, the leadership wants to showcase a commitment to fiscal discipline by cutting special spending projects for lawmakers known as "earmarks" by 40% from 2006 levels, when Republicans controlled Congress. House-Senate negotiators hope to agree on the individual pieces by 31 OCT, after which a final decision must be made on assembling the package. House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-WI) appears to be leaning toward the new option in hope of combining enough popular interests to override any veto. White House officials say the inclusion of defense spending in the bill won't alter Mr. Bush's willingness to use his veto power, however. The recent fight over child health insurance suggests that if Democrats are seen as being too political, they won't win over the moderate Republicans they need to prevail. Just last week, for example, House Democrats failed for the third time to get a veto-proof majority for their health bill. Moderates complained Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) failed to include them adequately in shaping the newest version.

    The same could happen in the budget fight now. In an interview last week Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), senior Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, signaled a willingness to intercede with the White House to try to reach some compromise on spending. But when told yesterday of the new proposal to bundle bills together, he was much cooler. "The Democrats are not going to win my support by packaging the bills together," Mr. Cochran said. The fact that Democrats are still debating their legislative strategy this far into the fiscal year reflects the extraordinary confusion surrounding the budget debate this fall. No one predicts a government shutdown, but the Democratic majority faces a lame-duck president who has interpreted the 2006 elections as a call to vigorously exercise his veto power against spending. As a result, none of the 12 annual spending bills has been approved and most of the government has been left to operate under a stopgap spending resolution due to expire 16 NOV.

    The heart of the dispute lies in about $22 to $23 billion that would be added to Mr. Bush's requests for domestic programs such as veterans' care, education, medical research and law enforcement. The $14 billion in the proposed package constitutes about two-thirds of this money, and Democrats hope to draw a contrast between the increases they want and the much larger increases Mr. Bush will get for his defense priorities. The big exception is funding for the Iraq and Afghanistan military operations, which Mr. Bush designated "emergency" expenditures outside the budget caps. The president wants almost $190 billion, of which defense negotiators were prepared to provide a down payment of up $50 billion added to the core Pentagon budget bill. But if the Pentagon budget is to be combined with education and veterans funds, Democrats won't want any Iraq-related money in the bill since it would make it harder for their liberal members to back the package. [Source: Wall Street Journal David Rogers article 30 Oct 07 ++]

VA Diverting Patients: James A. Haley VA Medical Center in Tampa and Bay Pines VA Medical Center in St. Petersburg are the nation’s busiest and fourth-busiest Veterans Affairs hospitals, respectively. Haley has been on “divert” status for critical patients 27% of the time since 1 JAN 06, or the equivalent of about 170 days, VA figures reviewed by the St. Petersburg Times show. The hospital diverts all patients regardless of condition 16% of the time. Since 2000, Bay Pines has diverted patients far more frequently than any other hospital in Pinellas County. Last year, it diverted veterans during 1,150 hours about 48 days, or 13% of the time, Pinellas paramedic records show. “There’s no intent to deny veterans care,” said Dr. George Van Buskirk, chief of staff at Bay Pines. “I like to think we’re as compassionate as possible. We’d rather send them out to a place that can take care of them than have them languish on a gurney in the hallway.” But some question the VA’s resources. “The VA has never dealt with its capacity issues seriously,” said Bill Geden, district director in west-central Florida for the Blinded Veterans Association. “They’re underfunded, undermanned and overloaded.” In one instance, Bay Pines said it “made a rare mistake” last June when it turned away a non-veteran who suffered a fatal heart attack 200 feet from its emergency room.

     The VA says it cannot assess how the Florida hospitals’ diversion rates compare to others nationally. But officials at both Haley and Bay Pines say they are making it a priority to achieve better performance. In 2003, for example, Bay Pines diverted paramedics 2,464 hours or 28% of the time. Similar statistics were posted in 2004. This year, Bay Pines is diverting about 7% of the time, roughly 500 hours so far. Haley’s diversion numbers have not improved in recent years, though it also has expanded its emergency care and hired three “bed czars.” Meanwhile, the number of patients treated at both hospitals is on the rise.

     “It’s like putting your finger in a dike, actually,” said Dr. Edward Cutolo, Haley’s chief of staff. Bay Pines treated 49,800 patients in 2000 and tallied 516,000 outpatient visits. In 2006, the numbers increased to 95,000 and 1.1 million. The problem is not specific to VA hospitals. About 36% of all hospitals reported going on diversion, a survey by the American Hospital Association shows. “It’s a crisis across America, not just the VA,” said Michael O’Rourke, assistant director of veterans health policy at the Veterans of Foreign Wars. “There’s a shortage of emergency room physicians, and there’s a shortage of beds, and there’s a shortage of nursing staff.” [Source: Associated Press article 29 Oct 07 ++]

VA Guardian: Payment of benefits to a duly recognized fiduciary may be made on behalf of a person who is mentally incompetent or who is a minor; or, payment may be made directly to the beneficiary or to a relative or other person for the use of the beneficiary, regardless of legal disability, when it is determined to be in the best interest of the beneficiary by the VA’s Veterans Service Center Manager. Unless otherwise contraindicated by evidence of record, payment will be made direct to the following classes of minors without any referral to the Veterans Service Center Manager:

* Those who are serving in or have been discharged from the military forces of the United States; and

* Those who qualify for survivors benefits as a surviving spouse.

     Unless otherwise contraindicated by evidence of record, immediate payment of benefits may be made to the spouse of an incompetent veteran having no guardian for the use of the veteran and his or her dependents prior to referral to the Veterans Service Center Manager under the following circumstances:

* When payments have been discontinued or withheld from a fiduciary, benefits may be temporarily paid to the person having custody of the minor or incompetent.

* Where a child is in the custody of a natural, adoptive or stepparent, benefits payable on behalf of such child may be paid to the parent as custodian of the child.

* Benefits due a minor or incompetent adult Indian who is a recognized ward of the Government, for whom no fiduciary has been appointed, may be paid to the proper officer of the Indian Service designated by the Secretary of the Interior to receive funds for said person.

    Guardians are allowed to keep a percentage of the VA payments if the state in which they reside allows it. In Florida this is 5%. [Source: http://www.warms.vba.va.gov/ Oct 07 ++]

VA Tidbits:

* The law provides a grant not to exceed $5,500 for certain disabled veterans toward the purchase of an automobile. If a veteran received this grant when the amount was lower, he cannot use the difference toward the purchase of another automobile. A veteran with a qualifying service-connected disability or disabilities may receive only one VA automobile grant.

* There is no limit to the number of times VA can furnish specially adapted equipment for a veteran's automobile. For qualifying veterans, VA will pay for the purchase, repair, replacement, or reinstallation of adaptive equipment needed for the safe operation of a vehicle.

* A veteran does not have to be rated 100% in order to be eligible for an automobile grant. If he or she has lost the use of a limb and that injury is service-connected, he or she meets the eligibility requirements.

* Divorce terminates all eligible for a spouse to receive any part of a veterans disability compensation when it becomes final.

* Under the improved pension plan all other VA compensation and/or pensions are counted as income. The VA will not accept an election of improved pension unless it is to your advantage.

* The VA audits the periodic guardianship accountings that are required by the Probate Court. If discrepancies are discovered, the Probate Court is notified and asked to take corrective action. The welfare and needs of disabled veterans under guardianship are monitored by VA Field Examiners who make periodic visits with these veterans. Unattended needs or adverse conditions are reported to the guardian or, if necessary to the Probate Court for required action.

* If a veteran dies in a VA hospital, for confidentiality reasons the VA does not put a death notice or obituary in the local newspaper or newspaper from where the veteran lived. Such notices are at the discretion of the veteran's family or guardian and are handled either by the funeral home with the family's guidance, or by the family itself.

[Source: http://www.va.gov Oct 07 ++]

Biotape Refunds: Smart Inventions, Inc. and Jon Nokes have entered into a settlement agreement that will provide up to $2.5 million in consumer refunds to purchasers of the Biotape, an adhesive product that was falsely claimed to relieve pain when applied to the skin. In addition, a federal district court has ruled that Darrell Stoddard, the tape’s inventor who appeared in a nationally televised infomercial, must give up the $86,000 he received from infomercial sales. The FTC had charged that all three defendants deceptively claimed that Biotape provided significant, permanent relief from severe pain and was superior to other pain-relief products. The infomercial claimed that Biotape was “a space age conductive mylar that connects the broken circuits that cause . . . pain.” The agency will contact consumers regarding refunds. For more information refer to http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2007/09/biotape.shtm [Source: FTC news release 18 Sep 07 ++]

VA Flag-folding Recitation Ban: Complaints about religious content have led to a ban on flag-folding recitations by Veterans Administration employees and volunteers at all 125 national cemeteries. It all started because of one complaint about the ceremony at Riverside National Cemetery in California. During thousands of military burials, the volunteers have folded the American flag 13 times and recited the significance of every fold to survivors. For example, the 12th fold glorifies "God the Father, the Son and Holy Ghost." The complaint revolved around the narration in the 11th fold, which celebrates Jewish war veterans and "glorifies the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob." The National Cemetery Administration decided to ban the entire recital at all national cemeteries. Details of the complaint weren't disclosed. VA spokesman Mike Nacincik said the new policy outlined in a 27 SEP memorandum is aimed at creating uniform services throughout the military graveyard system. He said the 13-fold recital is not part of the U.S. Flag Code and is not government-approved.

     Veterans and honor detail volunteers, including Bobby Castillo, 85, and Rees Lloyd, 59, are furious. "That the actions of one disgruntled, whining, narcissistic and intolerant individual is preventing veterans from getting the honors they deserve is truly an outrage. These are decisions that should be made by the families of our deceased veteran comrades and not by Washington bureaucrats" Lloyd said. "This is another attempt by secularist fanatics to cleanse any reference to God." Lloyd, who is a California civil rights attorney, says he and his allies at the Alliance Defense Fund are considering their legal options. World War II Navy veteran Castillo said it's "a slap in the face to every veteran. When we got back from the war, we didn't ask for a whole lot," Castillo said. "We just want to give our veterans the respect they deserve. No one has ever complained to us about it. I just don't understand." Lloyd and Castillo are part of a 16-member detail that has performed military honors at more than 1,400 services. They were preparing to read the flag-folding remarks at the Riverside cemetery when graveyard staff members stopped them.

     Charlie Waters, parliamentarian for the American Legion of California, said he's advising memorial honor details to ignore the edict. "This is nuts," Waters told the Riverside Press-Enterprise by telephone from Fresno. "There are 26 million veterans in this country, and they're not going to take us all to prison." An American Legion commander in California says he and other veterans will defy the new ban. VA spokesman Nacincik said that though the flag-folding narrative includes references to God that the government does not endorse, the main reason for the new rules is uniformity. "We are looking at consistency," Nacincik said. "We think that's important." Rabbi Yitzhak Miller of Temple Beth El said he understands the ban. "It is a perfect example of government choosing to ignore religion in order to avoid offending some religions," Miller said. "To me, ignoring religion in general is just as problematic as endorsing any one religion."
[Source: AP OneNewsNow.com article 26 Oct 07 ++]

VA Flag-folding Recitation Ban Update 01: To ensure burial services at the 125 national cemeteries operated by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) reflect the wishes of veterans and their families, VA officials have clarified the Department’s policy about recitations made while the U.S. flag is folded at the gravesite of a veteran. “Honoring the burial wishes of veterans is one of the highest commitments for the men and women of VA,” said William F. Tuerk, VA’s Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs. “A family may request the recitation of words to accompany the meaningful presentation of the American flag as we honor the dedication and sacrifice of their loved ones.” Traditional gravesite military funeral honors include the silent folding and presentation of an American flag, a 21-gun rifle salute, and the playing of “Taps.” The clarification includes the following:

* Volunteer honor guards are authorized to read the so-called “13-fold” flag recitation or any comparable script;
* Survivors of the deceased need to provide material and request it be read by the volunteer honor guards; and
* Volunteer honor guards will accept requests for recitations that reflect any or no religious traditions, on an equal basis.

     Veterans with a discharge other than dishonorable, their spouses and eligible dependent children can be buried in a national cemetery. Other burial benefits available for all eligible veterans, regardless of whether they are buried in a national cemetery or a private cemetery, include a burial flag, a Presidential Memorial Certificate and a government headstone or marker. [Source: VA News Release 30 Oct 07 ++]

Agent Orange Lawsuits Update 10: The Haas vs. Department of Veterans Affairs case is going to be argued on 7 NOV at the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. This case has implications far beyond the payment or continuing non-payment of Agent Orange related benefits to Blue Water Navy sailors who never set foot on the ground. If the lower court (the US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims) is upheld in tissue 06 decision, the DVA will be forced to begin processing claims for, and paying benefits to US Navy, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps, [and possibly Merchant Marine] veterans who served off the coast of Vietnam during the war, but never set foot on the ground. In essence, the decision reverts to the policy of granting presumptive eligibility to anyone who was rewarded the Vietnam Service Medal, or the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for service in Vietnam, a policy which was in effect from the enactment of the Agent Orange Act of 1991 until the DVA erroneously and unilaterally stop paying benefits to Blue Water Navy Veterans in 2002. But, the case, once it is upheld, will also, by dint of the presumptive service connection, create a new class of potential litigants in lawsuits against the chemical companies that manufactured the dioxin based defoliants, but also the United States Government, which specifically demanded the chemical composition to be delivered by the chemical manufacturers.

     It is the reason cited in the paragraph above on which the decision in Haas rests. The government escaped the Agent Orange Class Action Lawsuit of the 1990s as part of a structured deal going into litigation -- otherwise it would never have been settled. That may now be a moot point, however. The folks at BlueWaterNavy.org, the former Blue Water Navy Forum at Yahoo Groups, and the VNVets Blog have organized the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Association, and in doing so, have achieved class action size and status. Regardless of how the court rules in Haas, the option now exists to litigate a new class action settlement from both the Agent Orange chemical companies and the government. The new association is a unified focal point for blue water navy veterans and all of their issues, including the addition to the list of diseases, and subsidiary diseases and conditions currently authorized for payment under the Agent Orange Act. Keep in mind, a law suit is not a guaranteed outcome, nor is inclusion in it guaranteed. Often, those variables are negotiated prior to litigation, and sometimes during the suit.

     One of the things being looked at is the cross reference of spray maps and the locations of ships off shore vs. AO conditions in veterans who were on those ships at that time. The association has already begun collecting data. Instructions for enrollment in the association are available via the BlueWaterNavy Forum at http://bluewaternavy.org/phpBB2/index.php. Interested veterans and their wives, widows, and/or children are invited to register and log in to the forum. Membership in the forum is not the same as membership in the Association, nor is membership in either one automatic. Membership is open to Blue Water Navy Veterans, USMC Veterans and USCG and USMM Veterans who served off the coast of Vietnam during the war and did not set foot on the ground. Veterans Advocates can also enroll regardless of their service background. [Source: Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Association notice 26 Oct 07 ++]

VA Flu Shots Update 01: To safeguard the health of America’s veterans, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is urging all veterans, especially those enrolled in VA’s health care system, to receive flu vaccinations this season. Walk-in clinics, even drive-in clinics for the vaccinations— which are free for veterans enrolled in VA’s health care system—are being offered at many of VA’s 153 hospitals and more than 900 outpatient clinics. Veterans should check with their nearest VA health care facility to learn about local vaccination programs. “Vaccination is a simple way of preventing serious health care problems, especially among the elderly, those with compromised immune systems and veterans with spinal cord injuries,” said Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Gordon H. Mansfield. “Part of VA’s health care service is ensuring veterans get their flu shots.” Veterans should discuss flu vaccinations with their primary health care provider. Physicians recommend flu vaccinations for pregnant women, people with chronic medical conditions, those at least 50 years of age, patients in long-term care facilities, and people who live with those at high risk for complications from flu. A recent study by Dr. Kristin Nichol, a nationally recognized expert on the flu and chief of medicine at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center, found dramatic reductions in deaths and sickness after getting a flu shot. Vaccination reduced hospitalizations for pneumonia or influenza by 27%, and there was a 48% reduction in deaths. In addition to information about flu vaccines available in VA’s medical centers and clinics, VA maintains information for consumers on its Web site at: http://www.publichealth.va.gov/flu/
[Source: VA Media Relations 25 Oct 07 ++]

Tricare Flu Immunization: Fall is the best time to get the flu vaccination in the United States, according to health officials. This gives the body a chance to build up immunity before the winter flu season. “Tricare beneficiaries should check with their local military treatment facility or primary care manager to find out when and where they are offering the flu vaccine,” said Army Major General Elder Granger, Deputy Director, Tricare Management Activity (TMA). “All beneficiaries are encouraged to protect themselves against this potentially deadly virus.” Influenza kills about 36,000 Americans each year, and leads to about 200,000 hospitalizations, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is strongly recommended that the following people get vaccinated each year: all children aged six months to their fifth birthday; adults aged 50 years and older; persons with underlying chronic medical conditions; pregnant women; health care workers involved in direct patient care; child care and elderly care workers; and persons at high risk for severe complications from influenza. Tricare will cover the Flu shots administered in a civilian pharmacy or drugstore are not covered by Tricare. For Tricare for Life beneficiaries, Medicare covers flu vaccinations and Tricare would pay as second payer, if needed. Tricare covers two types of vaccinations; the inactivated vaccine containing a killed virus and given with a needle, and the nasal-spray flu vaccine made with live, weakened flu viruses that do not cause the flu. For more information about influenza refer to http://www.cdc.gov/flu/ For more information about your Tricare benefits refer to  http://www.Tricare.mil
[Source: TMA Press Release 07-76 dtd 25 Oct 07 ++]

VA Secretary Update 03: The Secretary of Veterans Affairs presides over the U.S. government's second largest Cabinet department, after Defense. It is a politically sensitive job, especially of late, with new studies showing that the Bush administration has vastly underestimated the cost of providing health care to the more than 750,000 soldiers who have returned home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But three months ago, former secretary James Nicholson resigned abruptly after a difficult tenure and tension among vets is rising because the White House still hasn't nominated a replacement. Some veterans advocates say the VA is in such disarray that the White House has been unable to find a top-notch candidate willing to take the job, much less go through a confirmation hearing. "Who wants to come in for 15 months and take over a department that has been left in shambles?" asks Paul Sullivan, a former VA official who now heads Veterans for Common Sense. White House spokeswoman Emily Lawrimore declined to comment on particular candidates, but says, "We are working hard to nominate a highly qualified individual." She adds that the White House hopes to announce a nominee "soon."

     In response to criticism over the issue, President Bush has unveiled new proposals to revamp the health-care and disability system for vets, partly by streamlining the bureaucracy. Days later, USA Today reported the results of a new internal VA study showing that the number of Iraq and Afghanistan vets diagnosed with post-traumatic-stress disorder is rising rapidly, from 29,041 a year ago to 48,559 this year. Few of these soldiers are even counted in the Pentagon's official tally of 27,753 wounded in Iraq. Yet a Pentagon task force recently concluded that the number of mental-health professionals available to vets is woefully inadequate, and the average wait time for disability claims is six months. Linda Bilmes, a policy analyst at Harvard who will testify before Congress this week, calculates that over the next decade, the disability costs for vets will be at least $60 billion—more than six times the administration's official projections. The numbers coming out of government budget offices, she says, are significantly underestimating the reality. All this has angered some vets and their families. "I would love to have the president live my life for one week to see how difficult it is," says Annette McLeod, wife of Army specialist Wendell McLeod, who is suffering from PTSD after serving in Iraq. "How do you fund a war but not fund the casualties?" [Source: Newsweek magazine Michael Isikoff and Jamie Reno article 29 Oct Issue ++]

VA Secretary Update 04: President Bush on 30 OCT nominated retired Army Lt. Gen. James Peake to direct the embattled Department of Veterans Affairs, which is strained by the influx of wounded troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. "He will work tirelessly to eliminate backlogs and ensure that our veterans receive the benefits they need to lead lives of dignity and purpose," Bush said. Peake, 63, is a physician who spent 40 years in military medicine and was decorated for his service in Vietnam. He retired from the Army in 2004 after being lead commander in several medical posts, including four years as the U.S. Army surgeon general. The nomination comes as the administration and Congress struggle to find clear answers to some of the worst problems afflicting wounded warriors, such as adequate mental health treatment and timely payment of disability benefits.

     Peake currently is chief medical director and chief operating officer of QTC Management Inc., which provides government-outsourced occupational health, injury and disability examination services. If confirmed by the Senate, Peake would lead the government's second-largest agency with 235,000 employees in the waning months of the Bush administration. In his new post, Peake, the son of a medical services officer and Army nurse, would manage the VA, criticized for poor coordination in providing medical treatment and disability benefits to millions of veterans. Earlier this year, a presidential commission chaired by former Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., and Donna Shalala, former Health and Human Services Secretary during the Clinton administration, proposed sweeping change that could add to the VA's backlogged system by shifting most of the responsibility in awarding disability benefits from the Pentagon to the VA. The VA's backlog is between 400,000 and 600,000 claims, with delays of 177 days. Former Secretary Nicholson in May pledged to cut that time to 145 days, but little headway has been made with thousands of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan returning home. "There is a lot of work to be done as we move forward on implementing the Dole-Shalala commission recommendations," Peake said. "The disability system is largely a 1945 product, 1945 processes around a 1945 family unit. About everybody that has studied it recently said it is time to do some revisions." Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, said Peake will have to prove he is up to the task of improving the beleaguered veterans care system.

     Peake, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, was awarded the silver star and purple heart for his service in Vietnam as a platoon leader with the 101st Airborne Division. He was wounded twice in battle and received his acceptance letter to Cornell University Medical College while in the hospital recovering from injury. As surgeon general of the U.S. Army, he commanded 50,000 medical personnel and 187 army medical facilities across the world. He also was commanding general of the U.S. Army Medical Department Center and School. From 2004 to 2006, Peake was executive vice president and chief operating officer of Project HOPE, a nonprofit international health foundation. While at HOPE, he helped organize civilian volunteers aboard the Navy hospital ship Mercy as it responded to the tsunami in Indonesia and aboard the hospital ship Comfort which responded to Hurricane Katrina. Joe Davis, a spokesman for Veterans of Foreign Wars, said Peake appeared to be a strong nominee who will nevertheless face many difficult challenges at the VA. "He will inherit a department that continues to face significant challenges, ranging from the influx of a new generation of disabled veterans and an uncontrollable claims backlog, to not having an on-time budget for eight consecutive years," Davis said. "He will walk into tremendous challenges on day one." [Source: Associated Press Deb Riechmann article 30 Oct 07 ++]

DOD Disability Evaluation System Update 07: The Defense Department will soon unveil a new, streamlined disability evaluation system that, in tandem with the Department of Veterans Affairs, will replace the current cumbersome process with a single exam and single disability rating. According to a copy of the plan obtained by Military Times and confirmed by Pentagon officials, veterans medically retired from service will be able to apply for, and get, VA benefits immediately. Overall, the time spent in the system, from the point a service member is found unfit for duty until he begins receiving VA disability payments, will be cut “by about half,” said to Bill Carr, undersecretary of defense for military personnel policy. The plan is the Pentagon’s best effort to make some fixes to the system immediately, without having to seek congressional approval. A broader, longer-range plan unveiled by the White House on 16 OCT, based on recent recommendations from a blue-ribbon commission, will require congressional approval and will take longer to implement. The Pentagon’s interim plan will be phased in with a pilot program to be launched in late November at three military hospitals: Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington , D.C.; National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda , MD ; and Malcolm Grove Medical Center at Andrews Air Force Base, MD. The plan will expand to other facilities as officials evaluate its effectiveness, with the emphasis on facilities that treat greater numbers of troops wounded in the wars. Carr said expansion will take place as fast as it can.

     The plan, a top priority of Defense Secretary Robert Gates, is the Pentagon’s answer to the Walter Reed scandal earlier this year in which media reports described wounded troops caught in tangle of red tape during their treatment and subsequent medical evaluations. The problems were complicated by the slow-moving VA benefits process and poor coordination between VA and the Pentagon — and exacerbated by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, in which more than 28,000 troops have been wounded, more than 13,600 of them seriously. The new program will evaluate all service members equally, regardless of how their condition developed. Each service now does its own physical exam during the process leading to possible separation, and each service member is rated for his condition. A member medically separated or retired who then seeks VA care faces another physical exam and yet another rating. The single exam will be administered to troops as part of the standard Medical Evaluation Board (MEB), which determines a member’s fitness for duty. But instead of a military doctor, a VA-qualified provider with access to the member’s medical records will perform the exam. In addition to evaluating conditions that could make the member unfit for service, the doctor will also consider problems the member may say have been incurred in or aggravated by military service.

     If the MEB, which also considers a commanding officer’s input, decides the member does not meet retention standards, the case is referred to a Physical Evaluation Board (PEB). This board decides whether to retain, separate or return the member to duty and, under the current system, can determine the nature and amount of military disability benefits. Troops will retain the right to appeal this decision to a formal PEB. But if the original finding is confirmed, the new system will allow troops to have any single condition or rating reconsidered by a VA decision review officer while still on active duty. As it now stands, if a member is rated by the military as at least 30% disabled, he is medically retired. Unless the member served more than 20 years, a rating below 30% calls for medical separation and, under some conditions, a lump-sum, one-time payment. In the new plan, the military no longer will issue ratings; that will be solely the VA’s job. But until the law is changed, the military will continue to base its disability ratings decisions only on those conditions that make a member unfit for continued service. For example, if a member is rated as 20% disabled for a knee injury and 10% disabled for hypertension, the military’s rating for the purpose of deciding whether to keep or release the member would be 20%, since hypertension is treatable, Carr said. In contrast, VA would use the total rating of 30% to calculate disability compensation for that member, using its own formula.

     That disparity would vanish if Congress adopts the plan announced 16 OCT by President Bush, Carr said. But while that plan faces competition from separate wounded warrior legislation introduced in the House and Senate, Carr said the essence of the new Pentagon plan likely will stand no matter what happens with follow-on efforts. Carr agreed that the shock of the Walter Reed scandal and Gates’ subsequent push to fix the problems sped the process along. But he said three congressionally mandated Pentagon executive groups had been looking at such changes for the past two years. In summary following is a summary of the current, pilot, and future plans:

* Current plan – DoD & VA run separate disability evaluation and ratings systems, each with its own standards for medical exams and separate processes for setting the level of disability, which in turn determines the military disability retirement pay or severance pay from the Defense Department and the amount of VA disability compensation.

* Pilot plan -- An interim program would eliminate the separate military and veterans health exams and separate systems of awarding a disability rating. Injured troops would undergo a single exam and get a single rating based on VA’s ratings schedule. DoD would continue paying disability retired pay and severance pay, while the VA would continue paying disability compensation.

* Future plan -- If Congress approves a White House plan, DoD’s role in disability decisions would be reduced to ruling on whether a person is fit to continue military service. Those found unfit would get a pension based on their rank and years of service. VA would then determine the level of disability. Based on that rating, an individual would receive enhanced disability compensation featuring several components — the basic disability payment, plus a transition payment equal to a minimum of three months of basic pay, plus a payment based on an assessment of how the disability has diminished the veteran’s quality of life and the potential loss of future income. The exact levels of pay would be determined by a proposed seven-month study.

[Source: ArmyTimes William McMichael article 29 Oct 07 ++]

Pennsylvania Vet Agency: A comprehensive study issued in OCT 07 supports state Sen. Richard A. Kasunic’s bill calling for separate state government departments to serve the needs of Pennsylvania’s military personnel and its veterans. Kasunic, who has served as Democratic chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness, estimated the Keystone State is home to 1.3 million veterans. The 154-page Legislative Budget and Finance Committee study’s first recommendation calls for a new cabinet-level Department of Veterans Affairs. Kasunic has introduced this measure in every legislative session dating to 1983. According to the study, the federal government annually spends an average of $545 less on Pennsylvania veterans than on vets who reside in other states. Kasunic said that amounts to $610 million fewer federal dollars, and $1.4 billion in lost economic activity. Study recommendations include:

* Establishing a separate state Department of Veterans Affairs.

* Funding the new department with its share of assets from the current DoD & VA, and supplementing the new agency with about $14 million annually. The study claims that simply separating the department without providing supplemental dollars would do little more than drain already existing program resources.

* Establishing a state or county Veterans’ Service Officer, as well as overseeing the management and funding of the Governor’s Veterans Outreach and Assistance Centers.

* Providing at least $10 million in the next five years to refurbish the Scotland School for Veterans’ Children in Franklin County. The new department would be located at the facility.

* Increasing monthly benefits in the Educational Gratuity, Blind Veterans’ Pension and Paralyzed Veterans’ Pension Programs.

* Changing the law, which excludes veterans younger than 60, to allow any honorably discharged veteran to serve on the State Veterans’ Commission.

* Transferring the Governor’s Outreach Assistance Center to the new department.

[Source: The Tribune-Democrat article 21 Oct 07 ++]

VA MRSA Testing Update 01: Lately the news has been saturated with stories on the increasing rates of methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections in the United States. The VA wants veterans to know they have taken proactive steps to combat the infection at each of its 153 hospitals and are placing greater emphasis on hygiene and screening procedures to help control spread of the disease. The new disease control plan is based on a pilot program that reduced the worrisome staph infection rate by 70% at a VA facility earlier this year. “VA demonstrated that dramatic reductions in MRSA-related infections are possible,” said Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Gordon H. Mansfield. “VA’s completion of our national deployment of these serious prevention measures reinforces VA’s stature as one of the safest health care environments nationally.” [Source: NAUS Weekly Update 19 Oct 07 ++]

     MRSA resists many antibiotics and is presently killing more people annually than AIDS, emphysema or homicide, taking an estimated 19,000 lives in 2005, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The best defense against the potentially deadly infection is common sense and cleanliness. Community-acquired staph infections, or CA-MRSA is primarily a skin infection. It often resembles a pimple, boil or spider bite, but it quickly worsens into an abscess or puss-filled blister or sore. Patients who have sores that won’t heal or are filled with pus should see a doctor and ask to be tested for staph infection. They should not squeeze the sore or try to drain it — that can spread the infection to other parts of the skin or deeper into the body. The vast majority of MRSA cases happen in hospital settings, but 10 to 15% occur in the community at large among otherwise healthy people. Infections often occur among people who are prone to cuts and scrapes, such as children and athletes. MRSA typically spreads by skin-to-skin contact, crowded conditions and the sharing of contaminated personal items. Others who should be watchful: people who have regular contact with health care workers, those who have recently taken such antibiotics as fluoroquinolones or cephalosporin, homosexual men, military recruits and prisoners. Clusters of infections have appeared in certain ethnic groups, including Pacific Islanders, Alaskan Natives and Native Americans.

     The risk of contracting MRSA can be lowered by bathing regularly and washing hands before meals as a start. Wash your hands often or use an antibacterial sanitizer after you’ve been in public places or have touched handrails and other highly trafficked surfaces. Make sure cuts and scrapes are bandaged until they heal. Wash towels and sheets regularly, preferably in hot water, and leave clothes in the dryer until they are completely dry. Remind kids and teenagers that personal items shouldn’t be shared with their friends. This includes brushes, combs, razors, towels, makeup and cell phones. The bacteria may be found on the skin and in the noses of nearly 30% of the population without causing harm. Experts believe it survives on surfaces in 2 to 3% of homes, cars and public places. But the bacteria are evolving, and the statistics may already underestimate the prevalence of MRSA. Be especially vigilant in health clubs and gyms — staph grows rapidly in warm, moist environments. The risks of infection and necessary precautions should be explained to student athletes, particularly those in contact sports who often suffer cuts and spend time in locker rooms. When working out at the gym, make sure you wipe down equipment before you use it. And if you have a scrape or sore, keep it clean and bandaged until it heals. Minor cuts and scrapes are the way MRSA takes hold. For more info on MRSA refer to http://www.Mayoclinic.com
[Source: NAUS Weekly Update 19 Oct & NY Times article 23 Oct 07 ++]

USAF Retiree Funerals: Manpower cuts and a high operations tempo, plus more retiree funerals than ever in Air Force history, mean base honor guards Air Force-wide will change the way they perform retiree funerals starting 1 NOV 07. The formal 10-person funeral will no longer be authorized for retiree funerals. The funeral detail will now consist of seven people who will serve as pall bearers, flag folders, flag presenter, bugler, spare, and firing party. This is to provide a 30% manpower relief for retiree funeral details, and 21% manning relief for overall funeral details, according to Pentagon air staff officials. "The main concern people had in the change of the funeral procedures was that we wouldn't be keeping with past traditions," said Staff Sgt. David Little, U.S. Air Force Honor Guard course supervisor for base honor guards. "Originally, the number of (Airmen) was going to be lowered to five, but we didn't want to lose the pall-bearing aspect so we determined that seven people would still be able to carry on all aspects of the funeral."

     This new funeral sequence has three major differences: the noncommissioned officer in charge of pall bearers also will be the NCO in charge of the funeral, the number of firing party members will be reduced to three, and a spare position will be added. The new sequence begins with the NCO of pallbearers assuming the position of NCO in charge to ensure the casket and flag are situated properly in the hearse. He or she will then join the pallbearers and call commands to carry the casket to gravesite, and finally present the flag to the family while the other team members assume their roles as either the bugler, spare or firing party. The final sequences are the same. A video was released 24 SEP documenting the new funeral, and is available on the Air Force Honor Guard Web site. Sergeant Little noted, "Another concern we've heard is that people think we're taking away the '21-gun salute' by having only three people fire. But what people don't realize is that we've never done a 21-gun salute during military funeral honors. What we do is fire three volleys in unison. Only the president receives a 21-gun salute, and only the Navy and Army have ever performed this. The three volleys come from an old battlefield custom where the two warring sides would cease hostilities to clear their dead from the battlefield, then would fire three volleys to alert the other side their dead had been properly cared for and they were ready to resume the battle. The fact that we had seven people firing the three volleys was a coincidence."

     Overall, the reaction has been positive, Sergeant Little said. "Retirees are grateful; they knew the Air Force was going to make changes, so they're happy we kept all aspects," he said. "The bases have been having a hard time supporting the 10-person funeral so this eases their personnel strain, and the base honor guards are happy with the new sequence. Training for the new sequence is not difficult either. We've had a lot of phone calls about the video, but what is important to remember is that all the manuals are the same. It's what you've already been trained on. The only differences are the sequences, and those are narrated to help each person understand (his or her) role. We're not teaching movements, we're teaching the sequence. The order of events is the same as the 10-person; the only real differences are the addition of the spare and the sequence at the back of the hearse." For more information or questions regarding funeral policy or protocol, call the Pentagon air staff at (703) 604-4928. [Source: Air Force Retiree News Service Madelyn Waychoff article 23 Oct 07 ++]

Reserve GI Bill Update 07: In the 18 OCT hearing before the House Veterans Affairs Economic Opportunity Subcommittee on the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) the dominant subject was education benefits for returning combat veterans from the Minnesota National Guard. The 34th Brigade combat team served a grueling 16-month tour in Iraq and a total of 22 months on active duty. More than half of the unit served on two-year orders that qualified them to apply for active duty MGIB benefits. But orders for the rest of the unit were for one year and 364 days - one day short of two years. Based on that one-day orders snafu, the Army denied active-duty-level benefits for the latter group, offering them an option worth about $8,000 less. After NBC Nightly News and other media highlighted that unfair decision, the Army let the soldiers apply for an administrative correction that would make them eligible for the active duty benefit. In testimony before the Committee MOAA's Deputy Director for Government Relations, COL Bob Norton (USA-Ret) told the panel that the real problem facing mobilized reservists is that they're not allowed to use their GI Bill benefits after leaving service, whereas all other active duty veterans are allowed 10 years' eligibility after separation. Further, reservists aren't allowed to accumulate multiple activations toward more education benefits. All Guard and Reserve members who serve multiple tours in Iraq or Afghanistan of less than two continuous years lose all GI Bill benefits when they leave service. Norton urged Congress to make two key MGIB fixes. First, consolidate reserve and active duty programs under one law, with benefits scaled in proportion to service rendered. Second, allow activated reservists the same 10 years of post-service access their active duty counterparts have. The Senate approved the readjustment benefit in its version of the FY2008 Defense Authorization Act; the House adopted the consolidation provision in its version of the bill. Norton urged legislators to put those fixes into law. For the longer term, MOAA recommends tying MGIB benefits to the average cost of a four-year public college education.
[Source: MOAA Leg Up 19 Oct 07 ++]

New Medicare Reimbursement Rule: To defuse physicians' and hospitals' opposition to the creation of Medicare back in 1965, the program's congressional architects selected payment mechanisms designed to preserve the status quo. But as Medicare has expanded and problems of affordability and quality of care have grown, such an approach has become untenable. Recently, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced its decision to cease paying hospitals for some of the care made necessary by "preventable complications" — conditions that result from medical errors or improper care and that can reasonably be expected to be averted. This rule, which implements a congressionally mandated change in hospital reimbursement, is the latest in a series of steps that have rendered Medicare's payment policy far less passive than it once was. The starting point for current Medicare payments for inpatient care is the system based on diagnosis-related groups (DRGs) that was adopted in 1983 by CMS's predecessor, the Health Care Financing Administration. That system is considered prospective, in that the amount paid to a hospital for a patient is fixed in advance and depends only on the diagnoses and major procedures reported at discharge (which, in turn, map to a specific DRG).

     In reality, payments under this system have never been completely prospective, being influenced to some degree by what happens to an individual patient during a hospitalization. For example, higher payments are made on behalf of patients in whom clinically significant complications develop after admission than for those with the same diagnosis who have no such complications. There are also so-called outlier payments that partially compensate hospitals for the additional expenses incurred for very-high-cost cases. With regard to preventable complications, these retrospective features of the DRG payment system have harbored a perverse incentive: hospitals that improved patient safety and ameliorated problems such as nosocomial infections saw their Medicare revenues — and sometimes their profits — reduced.

     Believing that this counterproductive incentive should be eliminated, Congress instructed the Secretary of Health and Human Services in 2005 to select at least 2 conditions that are

(a) High cost or high volume or both,

(b) Result in the assignment of a case to a DRG that has a higher payment when present as a secondary diagnosis, and

(c) Could reasonably have been prevented through the application of evidence-based guidelines.

     After issuing a proposed set of measures and considering comments from stakeholders and experts, CMS decided to disallow incremental payments associated with eight secondary conditions that it sees as preventable complications of medical care. These conditions, if not present at the time of admission, will no longer be taken into account in calculating payments to hospitals after October 1, 2008.

     The new rule will result in hospitals seeing substantial reductions in payment for the care of individual patients with preventable complications. For example, if a patient were admitted to a Boston-area hospital with pneumonia and developed a urinary tract infection or bed sores during the hospitalization, the hospital would currently be paid $6,253.58, under DRG 89 ("pneumonia with complications"); under the new rule, if there were no other complications, the hospital would be paid only $3,705.38, under DRG 90 ("simple pneumonia") — a difference of $2,548.20 (a reduction of approximately 40%). The policy, however, is unlikely to change the total Medicare payments to hospitals substantially, because the payment will be "reduced" only for instances in which preventable complications were the only factors causing a case to be reclassified under a more expensive DRG.

     Medicare will continue to make outlier payments for cases with costs substantially exceeding the average for the appropriate DRG, even when these costs are the consequence of preventable complications — and the likelihood of incurring such outlier payments will actually be increased by the new policy, because cases in which there are complications will more easily exceed the threshold associated with the lower-paying DRG. Moreover, preventable complications including the eight that CMS identified for exclusion may continue to result in higher Medicare payments to hospitals, because their downstream consequences may place cases in entirely different and very-high-cost DRGs, such as DRG 483 (tracheostomy with mechanical ventilation for 96 hours or more). The new approach does not attempt to unravel these more complex clinical scenarios.

     Conditions for which Medicare will no longer pay more if acquired during an inpatient stay, number of incidents in FY 2006, and average Medicare payment for admissions in which condition was present are:

* Object left in patient during surgery – 764 - $61,962
* Air embolism – 45 - $66,007
* Blood incompatability – 33 - $46,492
* Catheter-associated urinary tract infection – 11,780 - $40,347
* Pressure ulcer - 322,926 - $40,81
* Vasculat-catheter associated infection – Unknown
* Mediastinitus after coronary-artery bypass grafting – 108 - $304,747
* Fall from bed -2,591 - $24,962

[Source: The New England Journal of Medicine Meredith B. Rosenthal article 18 Oct 07 ++]

DoD Retiree Pay Offset: There are new programs designed to reduce the reduction in retired pay due to receipt of Veteran Administration compensation, for certain disabled retirees. Concurrent Retirement and Disability Payments (CRDP) provides a 10-year phase-out of the offset to military retired pay due to receipt of VA disability compensation for members whose combined disability rating is 50% or greater . Members retired under disability provisions must have 20 years of service. Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) pays added benefits to retirees who receive VA disability compensation for combat-related disabilities and have 20 years of service. To find out if either of this programs apply to you and to obtain the appropriate paperwork to apply refer to the following:

* New Retired Benefit Programs general information paper at http://www.defenselink.mil/prhome/docs/concurrent_retire_07a.pdf

* CRSC Information paper Updated NOV 06 at http://www.defenselink.mil/prhome/docs/crsc_nov06.pdf

* Revised CRSC guidance effective 1 JAN 04 at http://www.defenselink.mil/prhome/docs/CRSC_Guidance_104.pdf

* CRSC Application (DD FORM 2860) at http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/infomgt/forms/eforms/dd2860.pdf or
http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/infomgt/forms/forminfo/forminfopage2483.html

     Veterans must apply to their own branch of Service for Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) benefits. Applicants are urged to contact their own branch of Service for additional information. Link to your Service web site:

* Army at https://www.hrc.army.mil/site/crsc/index.html
* Navy & Marine corps at http://www.donhq.navy.mil/corb/crscb/combatrelated.htm
* Air force at http://ask.afpc.randolph.af.mil/crsc/default.asp?prods3=2039&prods2=39&prods1=1&cats1=144&p_cats=144

     For more info refer to http://www.defenselink.mil/prhome/mppcrsc.html

[Source: Under Secretary of Defense Personnel & Readiness notice 28 Mar 07 ++]

VA MRSA Testing Update 01: Lately the news has been saturated with stories on the increasing rates of methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections in the United States. The VA wants veterans to know they have taken proactive steps to combat the infection at each of its 153 hospitals and are placing greater emphasis on hygiene and screening procedures to help control spread of the disease. The new disease control plan is based on a pilot program that reduced the worrisome staph infection rate by 70% at a VA facility earlier this year. “VA demonstrated that dramatic reductions in MRSA-related infections are possible,” said Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Gordon H. Mansfield. “VA’s completion of our national deployment of these serious prevention measures reinforces VA’s stature as one of the safest health care environments nationally.” [Source: NAUS Weekly Update 19 Oct 07 ++]

VA Comp Payment Disparity Update 09: On 17 OCT, the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing to review the disability claims rating process and assess the causes of disparities in disability ratings that are administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Variances in VA disability compensation rates range from an average of $12,000 per veteran in New Mexico to less than $8,000 per veteran in Ohio. Among the actions under review are six recommendations from the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) on providing improved consistency in VA disability ratings and claims payments:

1. Standardize training for rating specialists;
2. Standardize the medical evaluation reporting process;
3. Increase oversight and review of rating decisions;
4. Consolidate rating activities to a central locations;
5. Develop metrics to monitor consistency in adjudication results; and,
6. Improve and expand data collection and retention.

     The hearing marks what will hopefully be the continuation of a more rigorous effort to modernize and improve the way we evaluate disabilities and award compensation for injured service members, exactly as the Veterans’ Disability Benefits Commission and a number of other blue-ribbon panels have also recommended. [Source: NAUS Weekly Update 19 Oct 07 ++]

Grayhound Discounts:

     Military Discount: Active duty and retired military personnel and their dependent family members may receive a 10% discount off the Greyhound walk-up (unrestricted) fare. Another option for military personnel is to travel on Greyhound for a maximum fare of $198 round trip anywhere in the continental United States. The following restrictions apply:

1. Fares are valid on Greyhound schedules and those of participating interline carriers. Not available on Greyhound Canada routes.

2. This fare applies only to active and retired members of the United States Armed Forces, which includes the U.S. Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, and Navy; members of the National Guard, reservists and bonafide identifiable spouses and dependents of the above. A valid military picture identification card must be presented upon request.

3. A 40% discount for children of military personnel referenced above is available. Discount not available with $198 maximum military fare. No other discounts apply.

4. Only totally unused tickets may be refunded to the location of the original purchase. A 15% penalty fee applies upon refund. No refund will be allowed if any portion of the ticket has been used.

5. Departure date and time may be changed for a charge of $10 per ticket provided that the advance purchase requirement is not violated.

6. Advance purchase tickets purchased over the phone require a minimum of ten days for delivery by mail and for online orders.

7. Casino, commuter, Discovery Pass, student or other special military fares do not qualify for the military discount.

8. Fares are subject to change until purchase and may be higher during peak holiday travel periods.

9. Ten-percent discount may not be used in conjunction with the $198 maximum fare.

     Veterans Discount: With the Veterans Advantage Discount Card, members can save 15% on walk-up fares at the terminal or online. Veterans Advantage is available for U.S. Military Veterans, active duty, National Guard & Reservists, and their family members. Membership is good for discounts on travel, dining, entertainment, clothing, and many more services and products. To become a member and get this discount, apply online at the Veterans Advantage Web site, or call 1(866) 838-7392. A Veterans Advantage 30-day free trial offer is currently available for Greyhound riders to thank you for your service. Full memberships are available for as low as $59.95 for one year, plus $4.95 to process enrollment.

     VA Patient Discount: A 25% discount on applicable one-way fares also is available to patients of U.S. Veterans Administration Hospitals, patients assigned by the U.S. Veterans Administration to Army, Navy, Air Force, or military hospitals, or patients assigned by the U.S. Veterans Administration to civil and state institutions when traveling at their own expense. To qualify, the patient must present a completed original Veterans Administration Request for Reduced Rate Transportation Form (VA-Form 3068) to the ticket agent at time of purchase. No copies, facsimiles, or other forms will be accepted for this discount.

[Source: Military.com 18 Oct 07 ++]

Tricare Uniform Formulary Update 22: On 26 OCT DoD officials announced the reclassification of nine additional medications as non-formulary. The nasal corticosteroid Veramyst and growth stimulants Genotropin, Genotropin Miniquick, Humatrope, Saizen and Omnitrope will be changed to non-formulary status on 9 DEC 07. Allergy medications Clarinex, Clarinex-D and the asthma medication Zyflo will be reclassified as non-formulary medications on 19 JAN 08. Medications not on the Uniform Formulary are not available at military treatment facility (MTF) pharmacies unless medical necessity has been established and an MTF provider writes the prescription. Beneficiaries taking non-formulary medications may want to consult with their health care provider about changing to a less costly alternative. Beneficiaries can also ask providers if establishing medical necessity for the third-tier medication is appropriate. If medical necessity is established for a third-tier medication, the co-payment is reduced to $9. Medical necessity forms and criteria are available at
http://www.tricare.mil/pharmacy/medical-nonformulary.cfm

     For a complete list of medications, their formulary status and where they are available beneficiaries can refer to
http://www.tricareformularysearch.org/dod/medicationcenter/default.aspx [Source: NAUS Weekly Update 26 Oct 07 ++]

COLA 2008 Update 08: The Department of Labor announced that next year’s COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment) be 2.3%. The increase will apply to military retirees and their survivors, as well as Social Security annuities and certain other federal payments. Civilian federal retirees will receive a COLA of 2.0%. This is the lowest increase since 2004. The cost of living increase was 2.7 % in 2004, 4.1% in 2005 and 3.3% in 2006. COLAs are set by comparing the change in the consumer price index for wage earners and clerical workers from the third quarter of one year to the third quarter of the next year. The COLA is lower this year than last due to a drop in energy costs in August and September. Counterbalancing the COLA for Medicare beneficiaries will be a rise in Medicare premiums of $2.50, to $96.40 a month. The COLA is effective on 1 DEC 07 and will appear in your JAN checks. [Source: NAUS Weekly Update 19 Oct 07 ++]

Pneumonia Vaccination: The Army Medical Department is launching a concerted effort to reduce the needless suffering, death, and waste of medical resources that stem from widespread failure by older beneficiaries to get their pneumonia vaccinations. Military medical facilities are being pressed to stay on their toes about offering the shots to all their older patients. Also known as the pneumococcal shot or Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Vaccine or PPV, the pneumonia vaccine is safe and highly effective, according to medical authorities—provided it gets out of the bottle and inside somebody’s body. To encourage that to happen more often, military medical leaders are stressing these facts:

* Pneumococcal disease can kill you. It is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. (40,000 deaths annually).

* It can make you miserably and expensively ill. There are 100,000 -130,000 hospitalizations annually in the U.S.

* It can affect your lungs, blood, and brain. It usually causes fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

* Pneumococcal disease can affect people of all ages, but older adults ages 65 and over are at higher risk for complications from both the flu and pneumococcal disease. The shot can help protect you from getting a serious infection in your lungs, blood and brain.

* Getting the shot when you’re age 65 or older should protect you for the rest of your life. You can get it any time of the year. The shot is safe and most people have no side effects. For maximum safety, medical officials also encourage beneficiaries to take the flu vaccine annually.

     Anyone can get pneumococcal disease, but some people are at greater risk from the disease. These include people 65 and older, the very young, and people with special health problems. The pneumonia vaccine protects you from getting serious infection in your blood or brain that can cause dangerous health problems, hospitalization, and death. Pneumococcal disease can lead to serious infections of the lungs (pneumonia), the blood (bacteremia), and the covering of the brain (meningitis). About 1 out of every 20 people who get pneumococcal pneumonia dies from it, as do about two people out of 10 who get bacteremia and three people out of 10 who get meningitis. People with the special health problems are even more likely to die from the disease. Drugs such as penicillin were once effective in treating these infections; but the disease has become more resistant to these drugs, making treatment of pneumococcal infections more difficult. This makes prevention of the disease through vaccination even more important. Those who should get the pneumococcal shot are:

* All adults 65 years of age or older.

* Anyone over 2 years of age who has a long term health problem such as: heart disease, lung, disease, sickle cell disease, diabetes, alcoholism, cirrhosis, or leaks of cerebrospinal fluid.

* Anyone over 2 years of age who has a disease or condition that lowers the body’s resistance to infection, such as: Hodgkin’s disease, lymphoma, leukemia, kidney failure, multiple myeloma, nephrotic syndrome, HIV infection or AIDS, damaged spleen, or no spleen, organ transplant.

* Anyone over 2 years of age who is taking any drug or treatment that lowers the body’s resistance to infection, such as: long-term steroids, certain cancer drugs, radiation therapy.

* Alaskan Natives and certain Native American populations.

     For more info on immunizations Ask your doctor or nurse, refer to the National Immunization Program
website http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/ (Department of Health And Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Immunization Program, or go to http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/pneumo/vac-pneumo-pubs.htm
[Source: Army News Service Harry Noyes article 18 Oct 07 ++]

Veterans Day Free Meals Update 0: In their annual salute to all veterans McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurants will again provide free meals in honor of Veterans Day. All veterans can receive a free lunch or dinner entrée at McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurants nationwide on Sunday, 11 NOV 06. Vets should show proper identification (VA card, VFW card, veterans ID, discharge papers, etc.) Reservations are strongly encouraged! In a show of thanks to our nation's veterans, Bill McCormick and Doug Schmick offer to serve those who've served at their McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurants. Last year the company served nearly 15,000 vets nationwide. This year's event is taking place on the Sunday before Veterans Day so that families can participate. McCormick & Schmick's annual veterans program began as a small effort in just one restaurant in 1999. Due to its overwhelming popularity and positive response received from veterans the program has expanded nationwide. A complete list of participating restaurants may be found at http://www.McCormickandSchmicks.com 

     Also thanking active duty and veterans, the Golden Corral restaurants will be having their annual salute to the military on Monday 13 NOV from 17-2100. Military Appreciation Monday (First Monday after Veteran's Day) is set aside for Golden Corral to honor all active duty and retired military personnel with a free "thank you" dinner and beverage at any Golden Corral restaurant. No identification is required. Since 2001, Golden Corral has served 1,230,960 free meals to active duty and retired military personnel. For more info go to their website http://www.goldencorral.net/
[Source: The Veterans Voice http://www.theveteransvoice.com/Hero.html Oct 07 ++]

Windows Vista Boycott: The Consumers’ Association (Consumentenbond) has called on consumers when purchasing a new computer to explicitly ask for the operating system Windows XP. New PCs come standard with Windows XP’s successor Windows Vista but there are many complaints about this system. The organization has also called on shops to provide free Windows XP packages to clients who are having problems with Vista. The Consumers’ Association took this decision on 18 OCT after a meeting with Microsoft to discuss the problems with Vista. After a survey conducted by the Consumers’ Association showed that the performance of Microsoft’s latest operating system was very poor, the Association set up a registration center for complaints about Vista. In less than five weeks 5,000 users filed complaints about the functioning of the system. "The product has many teething problems, it is just not ready," a spokesperson for the association said. Printers and other hardware reportedly failed in combination with Vista, computers crash regularly and the peripherals are very slow. The association had a meeting about the complaints with Microsoft Nederland on 18 OCT and suggested that Microsoft offer Windows XP as an alternative to clients who are having problems with Vista, but Microsoft refused. "Although they do offer Windows XP to their business clients when they are having problems," the spokesperson for the association said. Microsoft was not available for comment. [Source: Expatica News ANP Oct 07 ++]

Tricare Breast Cancer MRI’s: Recognizing the importance of early detection, the Tricare Management Activity (TMA) recently changed its policy adding coverage for Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) screening for women at high risk of developing breast cancer. The American Cancer Society has clear guidelines defining high risk which doctors can use to determine who qualifies for the coverage. If any qualified beneficiary receives this care in the near future and it is denied, they can resubmit their claim for reimbursement. “An MRI is a clearly superior tool for screening the highest risk women for breast cancer,” said Army Major General Elder Granger, Deputy Director, and Tricare Management Activity. “We want these women to have every chance to detect any cancer at the earliest possible stages.”

     Breast cancer is the third most common cancer among Tricare beneficiaries and the second most common cause of cancer death for women in the United States. An individual’s level of risk can be impacted by a number of factors including age, family history and race. Doctors can advise their patients of their individual risk factors, but even women of average or low risk should be vigilant. “The availability of MRI screenings does not reduce the importance of regular examinations,” Major General Granger stressed. “All women over 39 years old need to get those annual mammograms. The key to dealing with cancer is early detection.” Anyone who meets the criteria for a breast MRI will be covered by Tricare, retroactive to 1 MAR 07. If any qualified beneficiaries received this care on or after March 1, 2007 and it was denied, they can resubmit their claim for reimbursement. For more information about breast cancer refer to
http://www.Tricare.mil/pressroom/doctor_is_in.aspx?fid=60 [Source: Tricare Press Release 07-71dtd 17 OCT 07 ++]

Saluting the Flag Update 01: S1877, introduced by Senator Inhofe of Oklahoma, to amend Title 4, United States Code, to prescribe those members of the Armed Forces and veterans out of uniform may render the military salute during hoisting, lowering, or passing of the flag. The bill was sent to the House Judiciary Committee for consideration. The Committee, to date, has not set the bill for review. They have a huge backlog of issues currently under consideration. The staff reports that the concern with this bill is that there is no way to determine when people are in civilian clothes who is and who is not a veteran. The staff also said that there currently is in the law an appropriate method for rendering honors and that is to place one's hand over one's heart. It is not known at this point whether or not this bill will become law, but it is expected to be mired in legal wrangling and constitutional law review for quite some time. The Air Force Association (AFA) in the interim is suggesting that veterans render honors in a way they deem appropriate. If the situation warrants, place your hand over your heart - if you'd rather salute, do that. No law is going to change the way you feel about rendering honors. You earned the privilege to do as you choose. [Source: AFA Update 17 Oct 07 ++]

VA Cemetery Texas Update 01: The numbers are deceiving for the Ft. Sam Houston National Cemetery. Since 31 JUL 07 the total internments have reached 116,766 and occupied gravesites number 92,980. Just five years ago, the cemetery added 40 new acres that were expected to give Fort Sam enough gravesites to last through 2010. But that section already is 90% full. There are just 5,256 gravesites left, which could run out in less than a year. Those running the cemetery say they’re utilizing the space they have left better, and are mapping plans to open one last section that could keep it in business through 2035. Run by the Veterans Affairs Department, the cemetery acquired 169.8 acres from Fort Sam Houston that is bordered by Salado Creek. Cemetery director William Trower said at least 100,000 veterans and their spouses are to be buried there before space runs out. Burials are done in concrete-lined crypts that can hold both a veteran and his or her spouse. The "lawn crypt," as it’s called, allows five graves to be placed in the same space that four once used. The headstone, set in a concrete containment box, won’t move the way others do that rest on the earth. All headstones in American veteran’s cemeteries stand as soldiers do before mustering to war. But those here won’t rise and fall, creating a "wave" of marble in a sea of well-manicured grass. That will spare Fort Sam’s maintenance workers from having to occasionally straighten the markers. [Source: San Antonio Express-News 15 Oct 07 ++]

Veterans Mental Health Bill: U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI), Chairman of The Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, has introduced comprehensive mental health legislation. The bill, inspired by an 25 APR Committee hearing on mental health care, would address the immediate needs of veterans by ensuring high quality mental health services at VA facilities and in their communities. In testimony at the hearing, veterans and their family members told heart-wrenching stories of substance abuse, PTSD, and suicide, which exposed flaws in the current mental health care system for veterans. “Servicemen and women return from war suffering from invisible wounds that are complicated and wide-ranging,” Akaka said. “The solutions put forth in this legislation will help lead to proper mental health care for our veterans.” In his floor statement Akaka noted:

* A March 2007 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine reported that more than one-third of war veterans who have served in either Iraq or Afghanistan are suffering from various mental ailments including post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, substance use disorder and other problems. According to the study, a disproportionate number of young soldiers suffer mental health problems.

* One in five Iraq War veterans are likely to develop PTSD, as studies have estimated, and this is but one aspect of the mental health challenges faced by veterans.

* We also know that veterans suffering from physical and mental wounds use drugs and alcohol to assuage their pain. Experts believe that stress is the number one cause of drug abuse, and of relapse to drug abuse. Sixty to eighty percent of Vietnam veterans who have sought PTSD treatment have alcohol use disorders. VA has been dealing with substance abuse issues for decades, but much remains to be done.

* This bill addresses the immediate needs of veterans by ensuring high quality mental health services at VA facilities and in their communities.

     The bill also looks to the future through a number core provisions. The legislation would:

* Require VA medical centers to offer a minimum range of services for veterans in need of help to overcome their substance use disorders.

* Require programs to prevent relapse and to provide medical treatments to reduce cravings for alcohol and drugs, among others.

* Require that the confluence of substance use disorders and other mental health disorders be treated by a well-qualified team of health professionals who would treat the disorders concurrently.

* Create grants to enhance programs and fill holes. VA facilities would compete for grants for various purposes, from increasing weekend and evening hours to creating programs which encourage urgent care physicians - who are often gateways for new patients - to quickly refer those whom they believe may have a mental health disorder.

* Require the VA Secretary to designate six inpatient facilities to provide recovery services for veterans with comorbid PTSD and substance use disorders.

* Require a comprehensive review of VA's residential mental health facilities.

* Restate an existing law which allows families to have access to care which will aid in the effective treatment and rehabilitation of a veteran by clarifying the type of services to which family members should have access.

* Set up a mental health research program based on the successful pediatric oncology model. It proposes a network of sites with adequate patient flow and clinical and research expertise with a goal of promoting rapid progress from research to therapeutic advancement and effective treatments for PTSD and PTSD in the presence of a substance use disorder.

* Authorize the creation of new programs and expansion of existing ones.

     The Veterans Affairs Department on 24 OCT announced its opposition to the mental health care legislation, contending that it duplicates efforts already under way. Dr. Michael J. Kussman, the VA's undersecretary for health, "said the substance abuse segment of the bill was 'overly prescriptive and attempts to mandate the type of treatments to be provided to covered veterans, the treatment settings and the composition of treatment teams.' Kussman also said the contracted care sections of the bill are duplicative of currently existing authorities. [Source: SCVA News Release 15 Oct 07 ++ ]

VA Pain Care: On 15 OCT Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI), Chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and fellow Committee member Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), introduced legislation that would enhance the Department of Veterans Affairs’ pain management program. The Veterans Pain Care Act of 2007 would assist in focusing attention on pain management as a new generation of veterans suffering from pain enter VA’s health care system. This legislation seeks to significantly bolster VA’s existing pain management efforts and bring them up to par at a national, system-wide level. This bill, among others, is scheduled to be reviewed at the Committee’s 24 OCT 07 hearing on pending legislation. It has been endorsed by the Pain Care Forum, a consortium representing over 75 health care and health advocacy organizations from across the country. Sen. Akaka noted in introducing the legislation that:

* It is estimated that nearly 30% of Americans – that’s some 86 million people – suffer from chronic or acute pain every year. A recent study conducted by VA researchers in Connecticut found that nearly 50% of veteran patients that are seen at VA facilities reported that they experience pain regularly.

* While pain increases in severity with age, it is also a growing problem among younger veterans who have been injured in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of these veterans are coming home with severe injuries – often traumatic brain injuries – that require intensive rehabilitation. In some cases, these younger veterans will have to live with the long-term effects of their injuries, of which pain is a large and debilitating part.

* Pain management is an area of health care that by many accounts is not yet to up to par, in both the private and public sectors. The legislation being introduced would enhance VA’s pain management program on a national, system-wide level, by requiring VA to establish a pain care initiative at every VA health care facility. Every hospital and clinic would be required to employ a professionally recognized pain assessment tool or process, and ensure that every patient who is determined to be in chronic or acute pain is treated appropriately.

* The profile of a veteran in pain is often times different than that of his or her counterpart in the private sector. For example, veterans suffering from chronic pain are more likely to be receiving treatment for other problems including depression, substance abuse, alcoholism, or post traumatic stress disorder. Understanding and treating their pain must be a priority, and this bill will help VA enhance the department’s existing pain management program.

* VA’s current pain management efforts are worthwhile, but are unfortunately not adequate to meet all of the needs of veterans. Pain management in VA continues to be relatively decentralized and unstandardized. Some VA medical centers have adopted successful approaches and procedures to deal with pain, while others have been less active. Fortunately, VA has begun the work of identifying professional talent and developing ideas that provide the groundwork of an effective pain management program. This bill would build upon that foundation and help ensure that these ideas become practice.

[Source: SCVA News Release 15 Oct 07 ++]

VA Claim Backlog Update 12: On 9 OCT at a field hearing of the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs, Chairman John Hall (D-NY-19) called on the VA to reduce the waiting time for veterans stuck in its overwhelming claims backlog by two-thirds. He pointed out that these veterans have mortgages, medical bills, and tuition bills for their children’s education and that bill collectors don’t wait 6 months, 2 years, or 5 years to collect—you have to pay them every month. The VA must meet the same standard. He is asking that the VA cut the waiting time from six months to two months, and someday even be able to turn around a claim in 30 days. The VA currently maintains a backlog of over 600,000 cases. Due to funding shortfalls over the past five years, the backlog and waiting times became exacerbated to the point of unmanageability. The current average waiting periods at all levels in the VA disability benefits system are staggering:

* 177 days at the Regional Office
* 751 days at the Board of Veterans Appeals
* 240 days at the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims

     Hal said, “This backlog is simply unacceptable and the VA has shown little ability or interest in reducing the number of claims pending a decision. These veterans stood up for our country when asked, and now it’s our turn to stand up for them.” The backlog New York veterans face is even worse than that suffered by the average veteran in the U.S. The New York City VA Regional Office’s performance on processing claims is far behind the national average. Currently, it averages 255 days to complete a claim and has a pending backlog of 9,638 claims (20% higher than its goal of 7,952). Hall pointed out that the New York VA is working with one arm tied behind its back due to a hiring freeze that began in 2001 through JAN 06 to comply with federal cuts to VA funding. The New York office’s accuracy rating is 83%, meaning 17% of veterans are getting thrown into the hamster wheel of the appeals process which can take years to complete.
     The New York Regional Office has said it needs at least a third more employees (40-50) to deal with the number of claims it currently has and the number of claims anticipated. Hall was joined by other Members of the Subcommittee and by U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchey at the rare field hearing held at New Windsor Town Hall in Orange County. Testimony was heard from local veterans who suffered financial and other problems as a result of delays in receiving their veterans claim decision, from a representative of the Veterans Administration, and representatives from a number of Veterans Service Organizations. [Source: Congressman Hall Press Release 9 Oct 07 ++]

Army Combat Action Badge: The Army Combat Action Badge (CAB) may be awarded to any soldier performing assigned duties in an area where hostile fire pay or imminent danger pay is authorized; must have engaged the enemy; and must not be assigned/attached to a unit that would qualify the soldier for the CIB/CMB. Award of the CAB is authorized from 18 SEP 01 to a date to be determined. Retroactive awards for the CAB are not presently authorized. Second and third awards of the CAB for subsequent qualifying periods are indicated by superimposing one and two stars respectively, centered at the top of the badge between the points of the oak wreath. To expand retroactive eligibility of the Army CAB to include members of the Army who participated in combat during which they personally engaged, or were personally engaged by, the enemy at any time on or after 7 DEC 41, H.R.2267 was introduced by Ms. Ginny Brown-Waite (FL-05) on 10 MAY 07. The bill would authorize the Secretary of the Army to make arrangements with suppliers of the Army Combat Action Badge so that eligible recipients of the Army Combat Action Badge may procure the badge directly from suppliers, thereby eliminating or at least substantially reducing administrative costs for the Army. This bill has been referred to the House Subcommittee on Military Personnel and will most likely die in committee unless enough veterans contact their legislators and convince them to bring the bill to the house floor for a vote. Although the bill would cost the government only a minimal amount since veterans would be authorized to purchase their own badges it does not seem to be getting much attention by the subcommittee. This could be because the Army is not in favor due to what they claim would be problems verifying who was eligible. They also cite funding. Veterans are encouraged to contact their legislators and convince them to aid in getting this bill out of committee.
[Source: Various Oct 07 ++]

VA Budget 2008 Update 08: A war of words over veterans spending intensified 16 OCT, as Democrats went on offense after taking repeated hits from the GOP in recent days for not moving ahead on a $109.2 billion measure funding military construction and veterans' benefits. Democrats pointed out that the last time a veterans spending bill was approved before the end of the fiscal year was during the Clinton administration in fiscal 1997, when the Veterans Affairs Department was funded under the former VA-Housing and Urban Development measure. Last year, the VA budget did not pass until Democrats enacted a continuing resolution this February for the entire fiscal year, and during President Bush's tenure, the earliest Congress has sent him a final bill was 26 NOV. In each of fiscal 2003-2005, veterans spending was included as part of an omnibus appropriations package -- the earliest being 8 DEC -- which Republicans now criticize Democrats for moving toward.

     Earlier, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) had criticized House Democrats for not naming conferees on the Military Construction-VA bill, which he called inexcusable and evidence the majority was holding it back as a vehicle for more pork. "Mr. Boehner seems to have conveniently forgotten that last year, under his leadership, the Congress let down veterans and our troops by never passing the VA-Military Construction bill," replied House Military Construction-VA Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Chet Edwards (D-TX). A Boehner spokesman said ignoring basic facts is becoming an all-too-common tack for House Democrats and laid last year's mess at the feet of the then-Senate leadership, as the House had passed its version. "This year the burden is on House Democrats, and their unwillingness to move forward represents a failure of leadership and demonstrates their inability to govern," he said. Both chambers have passed the measure, and Bush has indicated he would sign it despite a price tag $4 billion above his request. Bush has also demanded corresponding offsets in other areas of the budget, and Democrats have been reluctant to send him the bill and put domestic programs at risk.

     The Senate has already appointed conferees. But the House generally does not name conferees until right before a formal conference is ready to convene because the minority party can use that opportunity to offer procedural motions that are political in nature. Edwards said informal conference negotiations have already begun and that it is his hope that Democratic leaders would send Bush the bill by Veterans Day, 11 NOV. But senior Democratic aides said there was not yet a decision on timing or whether the measure would become part of a larger package. House Appropriations ranking member Jerry Lewis (R-CA) argued that the delays in getting the bill signed mean the VA cannot begin programs such as 450 claims processing units, addition of clinics and improvement of existing facilities. Democrats note that the White House and GOP leaders in recent years fought efforts to add spending on veterans programs, even stripping former House Veterans Affairs Chairman Christopher Smith, (R-NJ) of his chairmanship in 2005 after he had regularly spoken out against Republican budgets for not including more veteran’s funds. Edwards added that under Democratic leadership in Congress this year, we will pass the largest increase in veteran’s healthcare funding in the 77-year history of the Veterans Administration.

     Veterans are a crucial voting bloc for both parties, and earlier this year Bush touted his budget's increase as the largest in the agency's history. As veterans programs remain mired in the larger budget fight, Bush and Democratic leaders traded barbs over delays in passing any of the fiscal 2008 appropriations bills. In a speech in Rogers, Ark., Bush reiterated his pledge to veto Democratic spending bills, which are, overall, $23 billion above his $933 billion discretionary budget request. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) shot back that the worst kept secret in Washington this fall is that Bush has taken a newfound hard line on spending in a vain attempt to establish his bona fides with his conservative base. Bush signed into law farm, highway and prescription drug legislation, as well as a number of appropriations bills that exceeded his requests when Republicans were in control.

     The House has passed all 12 fiscal 2008 appropriations bills. The Senate was moving toward passage of its sixth, a $55 billion Commerce-Justice-Science measure. Senate Commerce-Justice-Science (C-J-S) Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) told colleagues it was time to fish or cut bait if they wanted to offer amendments. Following passage of the C-J-S measure, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said he would keep the chamber in session through the weekend if necessary to complete work on the $150 billion Labor-Health and Human Services bill, as Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) -- also chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee -- needs to turn his attention to next week's farm bill markup. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) pledged significant cooperation on our end in working through the bills, calling them the basic work of government and we need to try and complete it as rapidly as possible. Bottom line, Politics as Usual.
[Source: Congress Daily Peter Cohn article 16 Oct 07 ++]

Cell-Phone Scare Message: The FTC has again stated that despite the claims made in e-mails circulating on the Internet, consumers should not be concerned that their cell phone numbers will be released to telemarketers in the near future, and that it is not necessary to register cell phone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry to be protected from most telemarketing calls to cell phones. Federal Communications Commission regulations prohibit telemarketers from using automated dialers to call cell phone numbers. No cell phone directory is imminent. Because automated dialers are standard in the industry, most telemarketers would be barred from calling consumers on their cell phones without their consent even if a directory were issued. For more info on the subject refer to http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2007/10/dnccellphones.shtm
[Source: FTC news release 12 Oct 07 ++]

Remote Infrared Audible Signs: The VA has installed their first Remote Infrared Audible Signs (RIAS) at San Francisco VA Hospital and the Audie Murphy hospital in San Antonio has decided to also. RIAS is a wireless communication system that employs permanently installed transmitters and hand-held receivers. Human voice or text to speech messages that identify landmarks and provide information are heard through a receiver carried by the traveler. People who are visually or print reading disabled scan for directional transmissions and find their way without asking for help. Talking Signs transmitters are used in buildings, to identify approaching buses, on bus stops, at cross-walks, in hospitals, museums, malls, etc. Using the Talking Signs system, users are provided wayfinding, orientation and information access in the built environment.
[Source: BVA Ward Dond input 16 Oct 07 ++]

Alzheimer’s Update 04: Scientists reported progress 14 OCT toward one of medicine’s long-sought goals: the development of a blood test that can accurately diagnose Alzheimer’s disease, and even do so years before truly debilitating memory loss. A team of scientists, based mainly at Stanford University, developed a test that was about 90% accurate in distinguishing the blood of people with Alzheimer’s from the blood of those without the disease. The test was about 80% accurate in predicting which patients with mild memory loss would go on to develop Alzheimer’s disease two to six years later. Outside experts called the results, published online by Nature Medicine, promising but preliminary. They cautioned that the work needed to be validated by others and in much larger studies, because there have been many disappointments in the past. Right now, Alzheimer’s disease is diagnosed by a battery of mental and other tests, and even that diagnosis rests on the judgment of the physician. Doctors say it would be useful to have something like a pregnancy test for Alzheimer’s...one that is simple and definitive and can pick up the disease early, maybe even before symptoms appear.

     At present, treatments for Alzheimer’s disease are not very effective. The real usefulness of an early diagnostic test would come when drugs are developed that slow or halt the progression of the disease. Several therapies that might be able to do that are now being tested. The drugs would be most valuable if they could be used before cognitive ability had declined too much. Numerous efforts have been made to find an early marker in blood, urine, spinal fluid and eye movements, as well as through brain imaging using PET scans and MRI. A Norwegian company, DiaGenic, has presented some early results of a blood test that analyzes gene activity. Researchers at Cornell published early results last December using a pattern of 23 proteins in the spinal fluid. But no test has gained universal acceptance.

     Dr. Tony Wyss-Coray, an associate professor of neurology at Stanford and the senior author of the new paper, said there was evidence from animal studies that brains affected by Alzheimer’s sent out signals to the body’s immune system. So his team decided that rather than looking at all proteins in the blood, it would focus on those involved in communication between cells, hoping to eavesdrop, as it were, on dialogue related to Alzheimer’s. The researchers gathered more than 200 blood samples from people with Alzheimer’s and those without. Using 83 of the samples, they measured the abundance of 120 proteins involved in cell signaling and found they could distinguish the Alzheimer’s samples from the controls using 18 of the proteins. They then tested their 18-protein signature on an additional 92 samples. The tests agreed with the clinical diagnosis about 90% of the time. Perhaps most intriguing were the results of the test on 47 blood samples taken from people with mild cognitive impairment, a minor loss of memory that can be a precursor of Alzheimer’s. The test was able to predict with about 80% accuracy whether a patient went on to develop Alzheimer’s two to six years after the blood sample had been collected.
     Dr. Wyss-Coray, who is also at the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health System, said that monitoring communications between cells might be a way to develop diagnostic tests for other diseases. And understanding why the levels of the 18 proteins are different in Alzheimer’s patients might provide a better understanding of the disease. The study was paid for by the National Institute on Aging, the John Douglas French Alzheimer’s Foundation, the Alzheimer’s Association and Satoris, a company co-founded by Dr. Wyss-Coray to commercialize the test. The company said in a news release that it hoped to have a test available for research purposes next year. But even if the preliminary results are validated, it is likely to be a few years before a test is approved and ready for use by doctors. [Source: New York Times Andrew Pollack article 15 Oct 07 ++]

VA Fraud Update 02: U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan announced a federal grand jury indicted a McKeesport PA woman for allegedly defrauding the Department of Veterans Affairs. The two-count indictment alleges Jacqueline Byrd, 58, had concealed evidence of her second marriage from authorities since 1977 in order to continue receiving veterans benefits. The Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General conducted the investigation that led to Byrd. If convicted, Byrd faces 20 years in prison and a fine of $500,000. [Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review article 15 Oct 07 ++]

VA Cancer Reporting Policy: Until recently, the nation’s cancer surveillance program was humming along. In every state, investigators were getting reports from every hospital describing every cancer patient they had seen. The data, which include the name, address, age, race and medical history of patients, are used to compile cancer rates. They also are used to investigate survival and other issues, like unusual cancer clusters and whether patients’ experiences are different depending on their racial or economic group. While other hospitals are required by state laws to submit data, Veterans Affairs hospitals are not. And now, for the first time, veterans hospitals have stopped providing information on their cancer patients. The concern, the VA says, is protecting patient privacy. The department has set up a new national directive setting conditions for using patients’ personal information and has said it cannot provide data unless and until states sign it. At issue, says Dr. Joel Kupersmith, chief of the department’s research and development office, is “the dynamic tension between patient privacy and the desire to use patients’ private information to do research.”

     Only a handful of states have signed the directive so far, and the VA is just starting to send some of them data. Other states, including California, whose population includes more veterans than any other state’s, have not signed and say the department’s conditions are almost impossible to meet. In the meantime, when the National Cancer Institute publishes its latest national cancer statistics next summer, they will be missing data from VA patients. And that will make them hard to interpret. For example, if prostrate cancer rates fall is that because VA patients were excluded. Dr. Brenda K. Edwards, associate director of the cancer institute’s surveillance research program said, “Cancer research will be severely impacted” and added that the situation was so complicated that investigators could not even find a good way to estimate what the new rates would have been if the veterans’ data had been provided. The Centers for Disease control & Prevention (CDC) also relies on data from the state registries. Acting chief for the CDC’s cancer surveillance branch says they been talking to VA administrators, trying to resolve the situation. But the veterans agency says there is a limit to how much it can compromise. “The VA has come down clearly,” Dr. Kupersmith said. “The paramount issue for us is the protection of patient privacy and the protection of patient information.” He added that the department was especially sensitive to privacy concerns in light of incidents like the theft by teenagers last year of a laptop computer containing personal information on 26.5 million veterans.

     The VA had been providing its patient data since 1972 without incident. However, in response to California’s cancer registry chief request for clarification on VA policy the department replied with a directive on 22 AUG that applied to every veterans hospital. And the agency told its hospitals to stop providing information on cancer patients unless and until the states signed its new directive. Among other things, it says that anyone who wants to use personal data involving Veterans Affairs patients must either get permission from the VA’s under secretary of health or find an agency researcher to collaborate with and get permission from the hospital’s ethics board. The directive also says that patient information must be encoded so that unauthorized people cannot read it. Cancer researchers say they have no idea how they will meet the conditions. Senator Daniel K. Akaka, the Hawaii Democrat who is chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs oversight committee, expressed sympathy for the VA’s position. Now, states are asking: Is it better to go along with the VA and get the data, even if the restrictions make it almost impossible to use the patient information in research? Or is it better to hold firm and not sign? It is especially difficult now to compile national statistics, said Dr. Edwards of the cancer institute. In some states, VA hospitals reported data until last month. In others, limited amounts are being reported, and in still other states, no data have been reported for a year or more. [Source: New York Times Gina Kolata article 10 Oct 07 ++]

FTC Fraud Survey: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has released its second survey of frauds among American adults. The data were gathered from 3,888 interviews with a representative sample of adults. The survey found that 30.2 million adults-13.5% of the adult population-were defrauded during a 1-year period that began in late 2004. More people were victims of fraudulent weight-loss products than of any of the other frauds covered by the survey. The products included nonprescription drugs, dietary supplements, skin patches, creams, wraps, or earrings, where the seller promised that by using the product losing a substantial amount of weight would be easy or could be achieved without diet and/or exercise and where consumers who purchased the product lost little or none of the weight they had expected to lose. An estimated 2.1% of consumers-4.8 million U.S. adults-purchased and used such fraudulent weight-loss products during the one year period preceding the survey. An additional 700,000 adults purchased an alleged weight-loss product and didn’t use it. The estimated total number of purchases was 8.3 million. Among purchasers, 6% said that they had lost as much or more weight than expected, 10% said that they lost about half of what they expected, 28% said that they only lost a little weight, 34% said that they did not lose any weight or gained weight, and 20% said that they had not used the product. One reason these scams are so prevalent is that the Postal Service no longer pays attention to them. They will continue to be prevalent as long as they remain profitable for media outlets that carry their ads and credit card companies that facilitate the purchases.
[Source: Consumer Health Digest #07-42 30 Oct 07 ++]


Veteran Legislation Status 29 Oct 07:
For a listing of Congressional bills of interest to the veteran community that have been introduced in the 110th Congress refer to the Bulletin’s House & Senate attachments. By clicking on the bill number indicated you can access the actual legislative language of the bill and see if your representative has signed on as a cosponsor. Support of these bills through cosponsorship by other legislators is critical if they are ever going to move through the legislative process for a floor vote to become law. A good indication on that likelihood is the number of cosponsors who have signed onto the bill. A cosponsor is a member of Congress who has joined one or more other members in his/her chamber (i.e. House or Senate) to sponsor a bill or amendment. The member who introduces the bill is considered the sponsor. Members subsequently signing on are called cosponsors. Any number of members may cosponsor a bill in the House or Senate. At http://thomas.loc.gov you can also review a copy of each bill’s content, determine its current status, the committee it has been assigned to, and if your legislator is a sponsor or cosponsor of it. To determine what bills, amendments your representative has sponsored, cosponsored, or dropped sponsorship on refer to http://thomas.loc.gov/bss/d110/sponlst.html. The key to increasing cosponsorship on veteran related bills and subsequent passage into law is letting our representatives know of veteran’s feelings on issues. At the end of some listed bills is a web link that can be used to do that. Otherwise, you can locate on http://thomas.loc.gov who your representative is and his/her phone number, mailing address, or email/website to communicate with a message or letter of your own making. [Source: RAO Bulletin Attachment 29 Oct 07 ++]

House Bills

United States House of Representatives website: http://www.house.gov/  
To contact Members of the House of Representatives go to: http://clerk.house.gov/member_info/index.html  

     Of the 3980 House bills introduced in the 110th Congress to date, following are those of interest to the veteran community. By clicking on the bill number you can access the actual legislative language of the bill and see if your representative has signed on as a cosponsor. Support of these bills by other legislators is critical if they are ever going to move through the legislative process for a floor vote to become law. A good indication on that likelihood is the number of cosponsors who have signed onto the bill. A cosponsor is a member of Congress who has joined one or more members in his/her chamber (i.e. House or Senate) to sponsor a bill or amendment. The member who introduces the bill is considered the sponsor. Members subsequently signing on are called cosponsors. Any number of members may cosponsor a bill in the House or Senate. At http://thomas.loc.gov you can also review a copy of each bill, determine its current status, the committee it has been assigned to, and if your legislator is a sponsor or cosponsor of it. To determine what bills, amendments your representative has sponsored, cosponsored, or dropped sponsorship on refer to http://thomas.loc.gov/bss/d110/sponlst.html. The key to increasing cosponsorship is letting our representatives know of veterans feelings on issues. At the end of some listed bills is a web link that can be used to do that. Otherwise, you can locate on http://thomas.loc.gov who your representative is and his/her phone number, mailing address, or email/website to communicate with a message or letter of your own making:

House Bills   Note: A short description of each Bill is being provided.

H.R.0023: Belated Thank You to the Merchant Mariners of World War II Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 46, United States Code, to provide benefits to certain individuals who served in the United States merchant marine (including the Army Transport Service and the Naval Transport Service) during World War II. Sponsor: Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] (introduced 1/4/07). Cosponsors (244). Companion bill S.0961. Status: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.0025: Fair Tax Act of 2007. A bill to promote freedom, fairness, and economic opportunity by repealing the income tax and other taxes, abolishing the Internal Revenue Service, and enacting a national sales tax to be administered primarily by the States. Sponsor: Rep Linder, John [GA-7] (introduced 1/4/07). Cosponsors (68). Companion Bill is S.0025. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

H.R.0067: Veterans Outreach Improvement Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the outreach activities of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep McIntyre, Mike [NC-7] (introduced 1/4/07). Cosponsors (32). Status: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.0081: Montgomery GI Bill Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide that members of the Armed Forces and Selected Reserve may transfer certain educational assistance benefits to dependents, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Bartlett, Roscoe G. [MD-6] (introduced 1/4/07) Cosponsors (3). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.0089: Combat-Related Special Compensation Act. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to extend eligibility for combat-related special compensation (CRSC) paid to certain uniformed services retirees who are retired under chapter 61 of such title with fewer than 20 years of creditable service. Sponsor: Rep Bilirakis, Gus M. [FL-9] (introduced 1/4/07). Cosponsors (40). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel. Companion bill S.986. To support this bill and/or contact your Representative refer to http://capwiz.com/moaa/issues/bills/?bill=9240191

H.R.0092: Veterans Timely Access to Health Care Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to establish standards of access (i.e. 30 days) to care for veterans seeking health care from the Department of Veterans Affairs, would allow referral to civilian care in cases where the standard is not met, would require the VA to annually report its performance in meeting those access standards, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Brown-Waite, Ginny [FL-5] (introduced 1/4/07). Cosponsors (11). Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held. To support this bill and/or contact your Representative refer to http://capwiz.com/moaa/issues/bills/?bill=9240456

H.R.0109: Disabled Veteran Small Business Eligibility Expansion Act of 2007. A bill to amend the Small Business Act to make service-disabled veterans eligible under the 8(a) business development program. Sponsor: Rep Davis, Jo Ann [VA-1] (introduced 1/4/07). Cosponsors (2). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Small Business.

H.R.0112: G.I. Advanced Education in Science and Technology Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for the payment of stipends to veterans who pursue doctoral degrees in science or technology. Sponsor: Rep Davis, Jo Ann [VA-1] (introduced 1/4/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

H.R.0136: Identity Theft Notification Act of 2007. A bill to amend title II of the Social Security Act to provide that individuals and appropriate authorities are notified by the Commissioner of Social Security of evidence of misuse of the Social Security account numbers of such individuals. Sponsor: Rep Gallegly, Elton [CA-24] (introduced 1/4/07). Cosponsors (10). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Social Security.

H.R.0140: A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to require the amounts reimbursed to institutional providers of health care services under the TRICARE program to be the same as amounts reimbursed under Medicare, and to require the Secretary of Defense to contract for health care services with at least one teaching hospital in urban areas. Sponsor: Rep Green, Gene [TX-29] (introduced 1/4/07). Cosponsors (13). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel. To support this bill and/or contact your Representative refer to
http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=9329026&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

H.R.0156: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for the payment of dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC) to the survivors of former prisoners of war (POWs) who died on or before 30 SEP 99, under the same eligibility conditions as apply to payment of DIC to the survivors of former prisoners of war who die after that date. Sponsor: Rep Holden, Tim [PA-17] (introduced 1/4/07). Cosponsors (31). Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held. To support this bill and/or contact your Representative refer to http://capwiz.com/moaa/issues/bills/?bill=9240856

H.R.0191: Senior Citizens Tax Elimination Act. A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal the inclusion in gross income of Social Security benefits. Sponsor: Rep Paul, Ron [TX-14] (introduced 1/4/07). Cosponsors (11). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

H.R.0207: Depleted Uranium Screening and Testing Act. A bill to provide for identification of members of the Armed Forces exposed during military service to depleted uranium, to provide for health testing of such members, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Serrano, Jose E. [NY-16] (introduced 1/4/07). Cosponsors (15). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.0243: Combat Military Medically Retired Veteran's Fairness Act. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to provide for the payment of Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) to members of the Armed Forces retired for disability with less than 20 years of active military service who were awarded the Purple Heart. Sponsor: Rep Weller, Jerry [IL-11] (introduced 1/5/07). Cosponsors (12). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.0303: Retired Pay Restoration Act. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to permit certain additional retired members of the Armed Forces who have a service-connected disability to receive both disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs for their disability and either retired pay by reason of their years of military service or Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) and to eliminate the phase-in period under current law with respect to such concurrent receipt. Sponsor: Rep Bilirakis, Gus M. [FL-9] (introduced 1/5/07). Cosponsors (154). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel. To support this bill and/or contact your Representative refer to http://capwiz.com/moaa/issues/bills/?bill=9240026

H.R.0315: Healthy Vets Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to enter into contracts with community health care providers to improve access to health care for veterans in highly rural areas, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Pearce, Stevan [NM-2] (introduced 1/5/07). Cosponsors (21). Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held. To support this bill and/or contact your Representative refer to
http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=9328981&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

H.R.0327: Veterans Suicide Prevention Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to develop and implement a comprehensive program designed to reduce the incidence of suicide among veterans. Sponsor: Rep Boswell, Leonard L. [IA-3] (introduced 1/9/07). Cosponsors (152).. Status: 10/24/2007 Presented to President

H.R.0333: Disabled Veterans Tax Termination Act. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to permit retired members of the Armed Forces who have a service-connected disability rated less than 50% to receive concurrent payment of both retired pay and veterans' disability compensation, to eliminate the phase-in period for concurrent receipt, to extend eligibility for concurrent receipt and combat-related special compensation to chapter 61 disability retirees with less than 20 years of service, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Marshall, Jim [GA-8] (introduced 1/9/07). Cosponsors (56). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel. To support this bill and/or contact your Representative refer to http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/bills/?bill=9548021

H.R.0339: Veterans Outpatient Care Access Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve access to medical services for veterans seeking treatment at Department of Veterans Affairs outpatient clinics with exceptionally long waiting periods. Sponsor: Rep Duncan, John J., Jr. [TN-2] (introduced 1/9/07). Cosponsors (2). Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

H.R.0343: Military Retiree Health Care Relief Act of 2007. A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow a refundable credit to military retirees for premiums paid for coverage under Medicare Part B. Sponsor: Rep Emerson, Jo Ann [MO-8] (introduced 1/9/07). Cosponsors (8). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health. To support this bill and/or contact your Representative refer to
http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=9329391&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

H.R.0402: Veterans' Disability Compensation Automatic COLA Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for annual cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) to be made automatically by law each year in the rates of disability compensation for veterans with service-connected disabilities and the rates of dependency and indemnity compensation for survivors of certain service-connected disabled veterans. Sponsor: Rep Knollenberg, Joe [MI-09] (introduced 1/11/07). Cosponsors (29). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs. To support this bill and/or contact your Representative refer to http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=9330146&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

H.R.0447: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide that World War II merchant mariners who were awarded the Mariners Medal shall be provided eligibility for DVA health care on the same basis as veterans who have been awarded the Purple Heart. Sponsor: Rep Fortenberry, Jeff [NE-1] (introduced 1/12/07). Cosponsors (1). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.0463: Honor Our Commitment to Veterans Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to terminate the administrative freeze on the enrollment into the health care system of the Department of Veterans Affairs of veterans in the lowest priority category for enrollment (referred to as "Priority 8"). Sponsor: Rep Rothman, Steven R. [NJ-09] (introduced 1/12/07). Cosponsors (44). Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

H.R.0538: South Texas Veterans Access to Care Act of 2007. To provide for the health care needs of veterans in far South Texas. Sponsor: Rep Ortiz, Solomon P. [TX-27] (introduced 1/17/07). Cosponsors (11). Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

H.R.0542: A bill to require the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide mental health services in languages other than English, as needed, for veterans with limited English proficiency, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Solis, Hilda L. [CA-32] (introduced 1/17/07). Cosponsors (25). Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

H.R.0551: Home Ownership for America's Veterans Act of 2007. A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 with respect to the eligibility of veterans for mortgage bond financing, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Davis, Susan A. [CA-53] (introduced 1/18/07). Cosponsors (68). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

H.R.0579: Military Retirees Health Care Protection Act. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to prohibit certain increases in fees (i.e. Tricare) for military health care. Sponsor: Rep Edwards, Chet [TX-17] (introduced 1/19/07). Cosponsors (182). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel. To support this bill and/or contact your Representative refer to http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=9284961&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id] or http://capwiz.com/trea/issues/alert/?alertid=9289751&queueid=1050771381

H.R.0585: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to expand the number of individuals qualifying for retroactive benefits from traumatic injury protection coverage under Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance. Sponsor: Rep Herseth, Stephanie [SD] (introduced 1/19/07). Cosponsors (3). Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

H.R.0612: Returning Servicemember VA Healthcare Insurance Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to extend the period of eligibility for health care for combat service in the Persian Gulf War or future hostilities from two years to five years after discharge or release. Sponsor: Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] (introduced 1/22/07). Cosponsors (20). Status: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.0634: American Veterans Disabled for Life Commemorative Coin Act. A bill to authorize the secretary of the Treasury to mint commemorative silver dollars that will be sold with a surcharge that will help the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial Foundation raise the money needed to construct the Disabled Veterans Memorial. Sponsor: Rep Moore, Dennis [KS-3] (introduced 1/23/07). Cosponsors 298. Passed/agreed to in House: On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 416 – 0. Status: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. To support this bill and/or contact your Senator refer to http://capwiz.com/military/issues/alert/?alertid=9802696

H.R.0649: Blind Veterans Fairness Act. A bill to amend title XVI of the Social Security Act to provide that annuities paid by States to blind veterans shall be disregarded in determining supplemental security income (SSI) benefits. Sponsor: Rep Reynolds, Thomas M. [NY-26] (introduced 1/24/07). Cosponsors (35). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

H.R.0650: A bill to provide for the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to conduct a pilot program to determine the effectiveness of contracting for the use of private memory care facilities for veterans with Alzheimer's Disease. Sponsor: Rep Reynolds, Thomas M. [NY-26] (introduced 1/24/07). Cosponsors (11).
Reynolds, Thomas M. [NY-26] (introduced 1/24/07). Cosponsors (12). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.0652: A bill to make the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass available at a discount to certain veterans. Sponsor: Rep Reynolds, Thomas M. [NY-26] (introduced 1/24/07). Cosponsors (34). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands.

H.R.0653: Combat Veteran Affidavit Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to allow the sworn affidavit of a veteran who served in combat during the Korean War or an earlier conflict to be accepted as proof of service-connection of a disease or injury alleged to have been incurred or aggravated by such service. Sponsor: Rep Reynolds, Thomas M. [NY-26] (introduced 1/24/07). Cosponsors (11). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.0657: Military Retiree Survivor Comfort Act. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to provide for forgiveness of certain overpayments of retired pay paid to deceased retired members of the Armed Forces following their death. Sponsor: Rep Jones, Walter B., Jr. [NC-3] (introduced 1/24/07). Cosponsors (38). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel. To support this bill and/or contact your Representative refer to
http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=9322811&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

H.R.674: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to repeal the provision of law requiring termination of the Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans as of December 31, 2009. Sponsor: Rep Gutierrez, Luis V. [IL-4] (introduced 1/24/07). Cosponsors (1). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.675: Disabled Veterans Adaptive Housing Improvement Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to increase the amount of assistance available to disabled veterans for specially adapted housing and to provide for annual increases in such amount. Sponsor: Rep Herseth, Stephanie [SD] (introduced 1/24/07). Cosponsors (2). Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

H.R.0690: A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to reduce the minimum age for receipt of military retired pay for non-regular service from 60 to 55. Sponsor: Rep Saxton, Jim [NJ-3] (introduced 1/24/07). Cosponsors (120). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.0704: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to reduce from age 57 to age 55 the age after which the remarriage of the surviving spouse of a deceased veteran shall not result in termination of dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC) otherwise payable to that surviving spouse.
Sponsor: Rep Bilirakis, Gus M. [FL-9] (introduced 1/29/07). Cosponsors (6). Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

H.R.0737: Forgotten Veteran's Retirement Compensation Act. A bill to correct an inequity in eligibility for military retired pay based on nonregular service in the case of certain members of the reserve components completing their reserve service before 1966. Sponsor: Rep Scott, Robert C. [VA-3] (introduced 1/30/07). Cosponsors (8). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.0760: Filipino Veterans Equity Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to deem certain service in the organized military forces of the Government of the Commonwealth of the Philippines and the Philippine Scouts to have been active service for purposes of benefits under programs administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Sponsor: Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] (introduced 1/31/07). Cosponsors (100). Companion bill S.0057. Status: Ordered to be Reported (Amended) by Voice Vote.

H.R.0784: A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to change the effective date for paid-up coverage under the military Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP). Sponsor: Rep Saxton, Jim [NJ-3] (introduced 1/31/07). Cosponsors (117). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel. To support this bill and/or contact your Representative refer to http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=9409496&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

H.R.0797: Veteran Vision Equity Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve compensation benefits for veterans in certain cases of impairment of vision involving both eyes, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Baldwin, Tammy [WI-2] (introduced 2/5/07). Cosponsors 64. Passed/agreed to in House: On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill 424 - 0 (Roll no. 175). Status: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.0959: Forgotten Military Widows Annuity Act of 2007. A bill to expand a Department of Defense survivor annuity program (SBP) that covers unremarried surviving spouses of certain members of the uniformed services who died before October 1, 1978, to include any otherwise eligible surviving spouse who remarries after age 55 or whose remarriage before age 55 is terminated. Sponsor: Rep Saxton, Jim [NJ-3] (introduced 2/8/07). Cosponsors (none). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.0991: A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow individuals eligible for veterans health benefits to contribute to health savings accounts. Sponsor: Rep Campbell, John [CA-48] (introduced 2/12/07). Cosponsors (1). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

H.R.1041: Veterans Health Care Full Funding Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide an enhanced funding process to ensure an adequate level of funding for veterans health care programs of the Department of Veterans Affairs, to establish standards of access to care for veterans seeking health care from the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Smith, Christopher H. [NJ-4] (introduced 2/14/07). Cosponsors (6). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.1086: Strengthening America's Military Families Act of 2007. A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to exclude from gross income the earned income of a spouse of a member of the Armed Forces of the United States serving in a combat zone. Sponsor: Rep Garrett, Scott [NJ-5] (introduced 2/15/07). Cosponsors (6). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

H.R.1110: A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow Federal civilian and military retirees to pay health insurance premiums on a pretax basis and to allow a deduction for TRICARE supplemental premiums. Sponsor: Rep Davis, Tom [VA-11] (introduced 2/16/07). Cosponsors (275). Companion bill to S.773. Status: Ordered to be Reported by Unanimous Consent. To support this bill and/or contact your Representative refer to http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/bills/?bill=9408296

H.R.1115: A bill to amend section 1477 of title 10, United States Code, to provide additional options regarding the designation of the person to receive the death gratuity paid with respect to a member of the Armed Forces who dies without a surviving spouse, but who is survived by a minor child. Sponsor: Rep Latham, Tom [IA-4] (introduced 2/16/07). Cosponsors (30). Companion Bill is S.659. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel. To support this bill and/or contact your Representative refer to http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=9423396&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

H.R.1197: Prisoner of War Benefits Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide improved benefits for veterans who are former prisoners of war. Sponsor: Rep Bilirakis, Gus M. [FL-9] (introduced 2/27/07). Cosponsors (5). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.1211: Resuming Education After Defense Service Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide entitlement to educational assistance under the Montgomery GI Bill for members of the Selected Reserve who aggregate more than two years of active duty service in any five year period, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Matheson, Jim [UT-2] (introduced 2/27/07). Cosponsors (69). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.1214: Veterans' Survivors Education Enhancement Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to expand and enhance educational assistance for survivors and dependents of veterans. Sponsor: Rep Ramstad, Jim [MN-3] (introduced 2/27/07). Cosponsors (3). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.1222: Keep Our Promise to America’s Military Retirees Act. A bill to restore health care coverage to retired members of the uniformed services, and for other purposes. This measure would fulfill the promises made to young recruits that quality health care would be available to them when they retired after a career in uniformed service to our country. It would also allow military retirees to opt out of the Tricare military health system and enroll in the Federal Employees Health Benefit (FEHB) plan if Tricare does not provide them adequate health care. Sponsor: Rep Van Hollen, Chris [MD-8] (introduced 2/28/07). Cosponsors (102). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.1223: Keeping Faith with the Greatest Generation Military Retirees Act. A bill to amend part B of title XVIII of the Social Security Act to waive Medicare part B premiums for certain military retirees. Sponsor: Rep Van Hollen, Chris [MD-8] (introduced 2/28/07). Cosponsors (87). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

H.R.1226: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to expand eligibility for the basic educational assistance program of the DVA. Sponsor: Rep Johnson, Timothy V. [IL-15] (introduced 2/28/07). Cosponsors (2). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.1265: Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Equity Act of 2007. A bill to amend the Small Business Act to authorize the Administrator of the Small Business Administration to award contracts to small business concerns owned and controlled by service-disabled veterans under the section 8(a) program. Sponsor: Rep Buyer, Steve [IN-4] (introduced 3/1/07). Cosponsors (2). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Small Business.

H.R.1268: Dignity for Wounded Warriors Act. A bill to ensure dignity in care for members of the Armed Forces recovering from injuries. Sponsor: Rep Mitchell, Harry E. [AZ-5] (introduced 3/1/07). Cosponsors (36). Companion Bill is S.713. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.1272: Veterans' Pension Improvement Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the pension program of the DVA. Sponsor: Rep Berkley, Shelley [NV-1] (introduced 3/1/07). Cosponsors (8). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.1273: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to restore plot allowance eligibility for veterans of any war and to restore the headstone or marker allowance for eligible persons. Sponsor: Rep Berkley, Shelley [NV-1] (introduced 3/1/07). Cosponsors (3). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.1284: Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2007. A bill to increase, effective as of December 1, 2007, the rates of compensation for veterans with service-connected disabilities and the rates of dependency and indemnity compensation for the survivors of certain disabled veterans. Sponsor: Rep Hall, John J. [NY-19] (introduced 3/1/07). Cosponsors (14). Related bill S.423. Status: 10/24/2007 Presented to President.

H.R.1315: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide specially adaptive housing assistance to certain disabled members of the Armed Forces residing temporarily in housing owned by a family member. Sponsor: Rep Herseth, Stephanie [SD] (introduced 3/5/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held. 7/27/2007 Placed on the Union Calendar, Calendar No. 168.

H.R.1318: Veterans' Benefits Protection Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to repeal the authority for agent or attorney representation in veterans benefits cases before the Department of Veterans Affairs. Sponsor: Rep Lewis, Ron [KY-2] (introduced 3/5/07). Cosponsors (2). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.1330: A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to extend the time limit for the use of education assistance by members of the Selected Reserve and members of the reserve component supporting contingency operations and certain other operations. Sponsor: Rep Carney, Christopher P. [PA-10] (introduced 3/6/07). Cosponsors (42). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.1354: Veterans Health and Benefits Improvement Act of 2007. A bill to amend titles 10 and 38, United States Code, to improve benefits and services for members of the Armed Forces, veterans of the Global War on Terrorism, and other veterans, to require reports on the effects of the Global War on Terrorism, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Moran, James P. [VA-8] (introduced 3/6/07). Cosponsors (54). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.1418: Reauthorization of the Traumatic Brain Injury Act. A bill to provide for the expansion and improvement of traumatic brain injury programs. Sponsor: Rep Pascrell, Bill, Jr. [NJ-8] (introduced 3/8/07). Cosponsors (37). Companion bill to S.793. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

H.R.1426: Veterans' Access to Local Health Care Options and Resources Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide veterans enrolled in the health system of the DVA the option of receiving covered health services through facilities other than those of the Department. Sponsor: Rep Latham, Tom [IA-4] (introduced 3/9/07). Cosponsors (11). Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held. Companion bill to S.815. To support this bill and/or contact your Representative refer to http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=9697361&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

H.R.1428: National Guard and Reserve Retirement Modernization Act. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to reduce the eligibility age for receipt of non-regular military service retired pay for members of the Ready Reserve in active federal status or on active duty for significant periods. Sponsor: Rep Latham, Tom [IA-4] (introduced 3/9/07). Cosponsors (33). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.1435: Department of Veterans Affairs Claims Backlog Reduction Act of 2007. A bill to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to conduct a pilot program to reduce the backlog of claims for benefits pending with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Sponsor: Rep Baca, Joe [CA-43] (introduced 3/9/07). Cosponsors (16). Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

H.R.1436: Retired Pay Restoration Act. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to permit certain retired members of the uniformed services who have a service-connected disability to receive both disability compensation from the DVA for their disability and either retired pay by reason of their years of military service or Combat-Related Special Compensation. It would eliminate the phase-in period for retirees who are paid at the 100%-disabled rate due to individual unemployability (IU). It also would extend concurrent receipt (CRDP)to otherwise-qualified disabled retirees with disabilities rated less than 50%. Sponsor: Rep Bilirakis, Gus M. [FL-9] (introduced 3/9/07). Cosponsors (6). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.1444: A bill to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to make interim benefit payments under certain remanded claims, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Hall, John J. [NY-19] (introduced 3/9/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

H.R.1470: Chiropractic Care Available to All Veterans Act. A bill to amend the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care Programs Enhancement Act of 2001 to require the provision of chiropractic care and services to veterans at all Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers. Sponsor: Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] (introduced 3/12/07). Cosponsors (16). Related bills H.R.1471 & H.R.1554. Status: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs. To support this bill and/or contact your Senator refer to
http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=9814161&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

H.R.1471: BACK Veterans Health Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to permit eligible veterans to receive direct access to chiropractic care. Sponsor: Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] (introduced 3/12/07). Cosponsors (3). Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

H.R.1477: Disabled Veterans Commissary and Exchange Store Benefits Act. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to extend military commissary and exchange store privileges to veterans with a compensable service-connected disability and to their dependents. Sponsor: Rep Fortenberry, Jeff [NE-1] (introduced 3/12/07). Cosponsors (1). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.1490: A bill to provide for a presumption of service-connectedness for certain claims for benefits under the laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Donnelly, Joe [IN-2] (by request) (introduced 3/13/07). Cosponsors (19). Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

H.R.1521: Universal Health Act of 2007: Repeal of the Late Enrollment Penalty in Medicare Part D. A bill to amend part D of title XVIII of the Social Security Act to remove the Medicare prescription drug benefit late enrollment penalty. Sponsor: Rep Kagen, Steve, M.D. [WI-8] (introduced 3/14/07). Cosponsors (24). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

H.R.1527: Rural Veterans Access to Care Act . A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to allow highly rural veterans enrolled in the health system of the Department of Veterans Affairs to receive covered health services through providers other than those of the Department, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Moran, Jerry [KS-1] (introduced 3/14/07). Cosponsors (11). Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

H.R.1536: Prescription Coverage Now Act of 2007. A bill to amend part D of title XVIII of the Social Security Act to assist low-income individuals in obtaining subsidized prescription drug coverage under the Medicare prescription drug program by expediting the application and qualification process and by revising the resource standards used to determine eligibility for such subsidies, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep Doggett, Lloyd [TX-25] (introduced 3/15/07). Cosponsors (170). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

H.R.1538: Wounded Warrior Assistance Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to improve the management of medical care, personnel actions, and quality of life issues for members of the Armed Forces who are receiving medical care in an outpatient status, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Skelton, Ike [MO-4] (introduced 3/15/07). Cosponsors (28). Related bill S.1283. Status: Passed Senate with an amendment by Unanimous Consent. To support this bill and/or contact your Senator refer to http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=9600206&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

H.R.1552: Medicare Patient Access to Physical Therapists Act of 2007. A bill to amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to authorize physical therapists to evaluate and treat Medicare beneficiaries without a requirement for a physician referral, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Pomeroy, Earl [ND] (introduced 3/15/07). Cosponsors (116). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

H.R.1554: Chiropractic Health Parity for Military Beneficiaries Act. A bill to require the Secretary of Defense to develop and implement a plan to provide chiropractic health care services and benefits for certain new beneficiaries as part of the TRICARE program. Sponsor: Rep Rogers, Mike D. [AL-3] (introduced 3/15/07). Cosponsors (9). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.1570: Bataan Death March Compensation Act. A bill to provide compensation for certain World War II veterans who survived the Bataan Death March and were held as prisoners of war by the Japanese. Sponsor: Rep Mica, John L. [FL-7] (introduced 3/19/07). Cosponsors (4).

H.R.1589: Military Surviving Spouses Equity Act . A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to repeal the offset from surviving spouse annuities under the military Survivor Benefit Plan for amounts paid by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs as dependency and indemnity compensation, to repeal the optional annuity authority for the dependent children of a member when there is an eligible surviving spouse, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Brown, Henry E., Jr. [SC-1] (introduced 3/20/07). Cosponsors (80). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel. To support this bill and/or contact your Representative refer to http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=9550256&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

H.R.1660: A bill to direct the VA Secretary to establish a national cemetery for veterans in the southern Colorado region. Sponsor: Rep Salazar, John T. [CO-3] (introduced 3/22/07). Cosponsors (8). Status: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.1710: A bill to modify the calculation of back pay for persons who were approved for promotion as members of the Navy and Marine Corps while interned as prisoners of war during World War II to take into account changes in the Consumer Price Index. Sponsor: Rep Hooley, Darlene [OR-5] (introduced 3/27/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.1732: A bill to provide alternative retired pay rates under title 10, United States Code, and alternative disability compensation rates under title 38, United States Code, for members of the Armed Forces with a combat-related disability, with such rates based on the average monthly salary for high school graduates in the U.S., and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Bartlett, Roscoe G. [MD-6] (introduced 3/28/07). Cosponsors (29). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.1745: Uniting America's Military Families Act of 2007. A bill to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to waive inadmissibility based on a misrepresentation in the case of an immediate relative of an active duty or reserve member of the Armed Forces and to extend the V nonimmigrant visa program for spouses and children of such a member. Sponsor: Rep Ortiz, Solomon P. [TX-27] (introduced 3/28/07). Cosponsors (19). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law.

H.R.1750: A bill to amend the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act to extend from 90 days to one year the period after release of a member of the Armed Forces from active duty during which the member is protected from mortgage foreclosure under that Act. Sponsor: Rep Wynn, Albert Russell [MD-4] (introduced 3/28/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

H.R.1863: A bill to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to conduct at two-year pilot program to use a mobile processing unit to perform certain services of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Sponsor: Rep Lamborn, Doug [CO-5] (introduced 4/17/07). Cosponsors (1). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.1864: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to provide for the automated processing of veterans disability compensation claims. Sponsor: Rep Lamborn, Doug [CO-5] (introduced 4/17/07). Cosponsors (1). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.1900: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to extend eligibility for pension benefits under laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to veterans who received an expeditionary medal during a period of military service other than a period of war. Sponsor: Rep Rahall, Nick J., II [WV-3] (introduced 4/17/07). Cosponsors (1). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.1901: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to extend eligibility for pension benefits under laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to veterans who served during certain periods of time in specified locations. Sponsor: Rep Rahall, Nick J., II [WV-3] (introduced 4/17/07). Cosponsors (1). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.1912: Medicare Hearing Enhancement and Auditory Rehabilitation (HEAR) Act of 2007. A bill to amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to cover hearing aids and auditory rehabilitation services under the Medicare Program. Sponsor: Rep Bilirakis, Gus M. [FL-9] (introduced 4/18/07). Cosponsors (3). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.
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H.R.1925: A bill to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a separate Veterans Integrated Service Network for the Gulf Coast region of the United States. Sponsor: Rep Miller, Jeff [FL-1] (introduced 4/18/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

H.R.1927: The Military Retiree Survivor Equity Act. A bill to repeal the requirement for reduction of survivor annuities under the Survivor Benefit Plan by veterans dependency and indemnity compensation, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Ortiz, Solomon P. [TX-27] (introduced 4/18/07). Cosponsors (86). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel. Companion Bill is S.0935. To support this bill and/or contact your Representative refer to
http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/bills/?bill=9660951

H.R.1944: Veterans Traumatic Brain Injury Treatment Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to screen certain veterans for symptoms of traumatic brain injury, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Altmire, Jason [PA-4] (introduced 4/19/07). Cosponsors (69). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.1953: Consumer Price Index for Elderly Consumers Act. A bill to require the establishment of a Consumer Price Index for Elderly Consumers to compute cost-of-living increases for Social Security benefits under title II of the Social Security Act. Sponsor: Rep Gonzalez, Charles A. [TX-20] (introduced 4/19/07). Cosponsors (6). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Healthy Families and Communities.

H.R.1960: A Home for the Brave Act. A bill to amend the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 to allow community reinvestment credit for investments and other financial support to enable veterans to purchase residential homes or to assist organizations with the establishment of housing opportunities and assisted living facilities for veterans. Sponsor: Rep Lynch, Stephen F. [MA-9] (introduced 4/19/07). Cosponsors (13). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services.

H.R.1969: Montgomery G.I. Bill Improvement Act of 2007. A bill to exempt from payment of individual contributions under the Montgomery GI Bill enlisted members of the Armed Forces in pay grade E-5 or below and to provide an opportunity for members of the Armed Forces serving on active duty to withdraw an election not to enroll in education benefits under the Montgomery GI Bill. Sponsor: Rep Terry, Lee [NE-2] (introduced 4/19/07). Cosponsors (4). Status: Referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, and in addition to the Committee on Armed Services, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

H.R.2005: Rural Veterans Health Care Improvement Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve health care for veterans who live in rural areas, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Salazar, John T. [CO-3] (introduced 4/23/07). Cosponsors (48). Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

H.R.2026: Disabled Veterans Insurance Act of 2007. A bill to amend section 1922A of title 38, United States Code, to increase the amount of supplemental insurance available for totally disabled veterans. Sponsor: Rep Jones, Walter B., Jr. [NC-3] (introduced 4/25/07). Cosponsors (2). Companion bill S.1315. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.2027: Military Pay Improvement Act of 2007. A bill to provide an additional 0.5 percent increase in the rates of military basic pay for members of the uniformed services above the pay increase proposed by the Department of Defense so as to ensure at least a minimum pay increase of 3.5 percent for members and to further narrow the "pay gap" that exists between the military and private sector pay scales. Sponsor: Rep Bilirakis, Gus M. [FL-9] (introduced 4/25/07). Cosponsors (11). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.2044: Cadet and Midshipman Disability Fairness Act. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to extend eligibility for disability retired pay and separation pay to former cadets and midshipmen with prior enlisted service who incurred physical disabilities after January 1, 2000. Sponsor: Rep Stupak, Bart [MI-1] (introduced 4/25/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.2048: Traumatic Brain Injury Access to Options Act. A bill to facilitate the provision of care and services for members of the Armed Forces for traumatic brain injury, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Donnelly, Joe [IN-2] (introduced 4/26/07). Cosponsors (8). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.2059: A bill to amend title 32, United States Code, to provide members of the National Guard additional time to transition to civilian life when they return from active duty in support of contingency operations or homeland defense missions. Sponsor: Rep Hooley, Darlene [OR-5] (introduced 4/26/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.2064: Compassionate Care for Servicewomen Act. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to require emergency contraception to be available at all military health care treatment facilities. Sponsor: Rep Michaud, Michael H. [ME-2] (introduced 4/26/07). Cosponsors (59). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.2179: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish traumatic brain injury centers. Sponsor: Rep Walz, Timothy J. [MN-1] (introduced 5/3/07). Cosponsors (1). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.2189: Military Health Services Improvement Act of 2007. A bill to require pre-and post-deployment mental health screenings for members of the Armed Forces, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep DeLauro, Rosa L. [CT-3] (introduced 5/7/07). Cosponsors (41). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.2190: Advisory Committee on Rural Veterans Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish the Advisory Committee on Rural Veterans. Sponsor: Rep Donnelly, Joe [IN-2] (introduced 5/7/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.2192: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to establish an Ombudsman within the Department of Veterans Affairs. Sponsor: Rep Hodes, Paul W. [NH-2] (introduced 5/7/07). Cosponsors (40). Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

H.R.2195: A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to expand the education loan repayment program for members of the Selected Reserve. Sponsor: Rep Murphy, Patrick J. [PA-8] (introduced 5/7/07). Cosponsors (1). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.2219: Veterans Suicide Prevention Hotline Act of 2007. A bill to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to award a grant to a private, nonprofit entity to establish, publicize, and operate a national toll-free suicide prevention telephone hotline targeted to and staffed by veterans of the Armed Forces. Sponsor: Rep Moran, James P. [VA-8] (introduced 5/8/07). Cosponsors (26). Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

H.R.2226: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out a pilot program to provide readjustment counseling and related mental health services to veterans through the use of mobile centers. Sponsor: Rep Welch, Peter [VT] (introduced 5/8/07). Cosponsors (1). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.2239: Early Access to Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Benefits Act . A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to expand eligibility for vocational rehabilitation benefits administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Sponsor: Rep Boozman, John [AR-3] (introduced 5/9/07). Cosponsors (5). Status: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.2247: Montgomery GI Bill for Life Act of 2007. A bill to amend titles 10 and 38, United States Code, to repeal the 10-year limit on use of Montgomery GI Bill educational assistance benefits, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Larsen, Rick [WA-2] (introduced 5/9/07). Cosponsors (12). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.2257: A bill to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to increase the number of benefits claims representatives employed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, and to ensure that there are not fewer than two such claims representatives located at each center for the provision of readjustment counseling and related mental health services established under section 1712A of title 38, United States Code (commonly referred to as a "vet center"), to help reduce the backlog of claims pending with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Sponsor: Rep Welch, Peter [VT] (introduced 5/9/07). Cosponsors (1). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs.

H.R.2259: A bill to ensure that members of the National Guard and Reserves are able to fully participate in the benefits delivery at discharge program administered jointly by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to provide information and assistance on available benefits and other transition assistance to members of the Armed Forces who are separating from the Armed Forces. Sponsor: Rep Welch, Peter [VT] (introduced 5/9/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.2267: A bill to expand retroactive eligibility of the Army Combat Action Badge to include members of the Army who participated in combat during which they personally engaged, or were personally engaged by, the enemy at any time on or after December 7, 1941. Sponsor: Rep Brown-Waite, Ginny [FL-5] (introduced 5/10/07). Cosponsors (5). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.2292 : Pay Veterans First Act. A bill to prohibit the payment of bonuses to certain officers of the Department of Veterans Affairs unless fewer than 100,000 disability compensation claims are pending before the Department. Sponsor: Rep Hall, John J. [NY-19] (introduced 5/14/07). Cosponsors (19). Status: Referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, and in addition to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

H.R.2319: TRICARE Mail-Order Pharmacy Pilot Program Act. A bill to establish a Mail-Order Pharmacy Pilot Program. Sponsor: Rep Bilirakis, Gus M. [FL-9] (introduced 5/15/07). Cosponsors (2). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.2330: VETS Act of 2007. A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow employers a credit against income tax for hiring veterans. Sponsor: Rep McCotter, Thaddeus G. [MI-11] (introduced 5/15/07). Cosponsors (13). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

H.R.2346: A bill to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a process for determining whether a geographic area is sufficiently served by the national cemeteries located in that geographic area. Sponsor: Rep Fossella, Vito [NY-13] (introduced 5/16/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.2355: Reservists and Guardsmen Tax Relief Act of 2007. A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to extend the authority for penalty-free withdrawals from retirement plans by military reservists or national guardsmen called to active duty for extended periods. Sponsor: Rep Weldon, Dave [FL-15] (introduced 5/16/2007). Cosponsors (None). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

H.R.2378: Services to Prevent Veterans Homelessness Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to establish a financial assistance program to facilitate the provision of supportive services for very low-income veteran families in permanent housing, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Herseth Sandlin, Stephanie [SD] (introduced 5/17/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.2385: 21st Century GI Bill of Rights Act of 2007. A bill to provide and enhance education, housing, and entrepreneur assistance for veterans who serve in the Armed Forces after September 11, 2001, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Murphy, Patrick J. [PA-8] (introduced 5/17/07). Cosponsors (3). Companion bill S.1401. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.2417: Montgomery GI Bill Second Chance Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, and title 10, United States Code, to provide for an opportunity for active duty personnel to withdraw an election not to participate in the program of educational assistance under the Montgomery GI Bill. Sponsor: Rep Visclosky, Peter J. [IN-1] (introduced 5/21/07). Cosponsors (51). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.2434: Veterans Right to Know Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to provide regular notice to individuals submitting claims for benefits administered by the Secretary on the status of such claims. Sponsor: Rep Drake, Thelma D. [VA-2] (introduced 5/22/07). Cosponsors (5). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.2475: Veteran Home Equity Conversation Mortgage Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to guarantee home equity conversion mortgages for elderly veteran homeowners. Sponsor: Rep Michaud, Michael H. [ME-2] (introduced 5/24/07). Cosponsors (2). Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

H.R.2495: Disabled Veterans Commissary and Exchange Store Benefits Act. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to extend military commissary and exchange store privileges to veterans with a compensable service-connected disability and to their dependents. Sponsor: Rep Burton, Dan [IN-5] (introduced 5/24/2007). Cosponsors (17). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.To support this bill and/or contact your Representative refer to
http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=9899926&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

H.R.2514: Assured Funding for Veterans Health Care Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for an assured adequate level of funding for veterans health care. Sponsor: Rep Hare, Phil [IL-17] (introduced 5/24/07). Cosponsors (107). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.2540: Honoring Existing Retirement Obligations for Every Servicemember Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United State Code to provide for the treatment of period of service in uniformed services as continued employment for purposes of pension and retirement benefits for individuals who die during the period of service. Sponsor: Rep Pomeroy, Earl [ND] (introduced 5/24/07). Cosponsors (1). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.2551: A bill to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a national cemetery in Sarpy County, Nebraska, to serve veterans in eastern Nebraska and western Iowa. Sponsor: Rep Terry, Lee [NE-2] (introduced 5/24/07). Cosponsors (3). Status: Referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, and in addition to the Committee on Ways and Means, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

H.R.2585: A bill to amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to modify Medicare physician reimbursement policies to ensure a future physician workforce, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Burgess, Michael C. [TX-26] (introduced 6/6/07). Cosponsors (17). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

H.R.2612: Mental Health Care for Our Wounded Warriors Act. A bill to improve mental health care for wounded members of the Armed Forces, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Davis, Susan A. [CA-53] (introduced 6/7/07).Cosponsors (16). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel. To support this bill and/or contact your Representative refer to
http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=9914821&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

H.R.2623: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to prohibit the collection of copayments for all hospice care furnished by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Sponsor: Rep Miller, Jeff [FL-1] (introduced 6/7/07). Cosponsors (1). 7/27/2007 Placed on the Union Calendar, Calendar No. 169.

H.R.2642: Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act, 2008. A bill to make appropriations for military construction, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2008, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Edwards, Chet [TX-17] (introduced 6/11/07). Cosponsors (None). Received in the Senate 6/18/07. Read twice. Resolving differences 9/6/2007 -- Senate actions. Status: Senate insists on its amendment, asks for a conference, appoints conferees Johnson; Inouye; Landrieu; Byrd; Murray; Reed; Nelson NE; Leahy; Hutchison; Craig; Brownback; Allard; McConnell; Bennett; Cochran.

H.R.2689: A bill to require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a program for the provision of readjustment and mental health services to veterans who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Rodriguez, Ciro D. [TX-23] (introduced 6/12/07). Cosponsors (7). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.2696: Veterans' Dignified Burial Assistance Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to increase assistance for veterans interred in cemeteries other than national cemeteries, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Lamborn, Doug [CO-5] (introduced 6/13/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.2697: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to expand eligibility for veterans' mortgage life insurance to include members of the Armed Forces receiving specially adapted housing assistance from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Sponsor: Rep Lamborn, Doug [CO-5] (introduced 6/13/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.2699: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to repeal authority for adjustments to per diem payments to homeless veterans service centers for receipt of other sources of income, to extend authorities for certain programs to benefit homeless veterans, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Murphy, Patrick J. [PA-8] (introduced 6/13/07). Cosponsors (3). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.2702: Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to establish a program of educational assistance for members of the Armed Forces who serve in the Armed Forces after September 11, 2001, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Scott, Robert C. [VA-3] (introduced 6/13/07). Cosponsors (73). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity.

H.R.2721: A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to develop, and the Secretary of Defense to distribute to members of the Armed Forces upon their discharge or release from active duty, information in a compact disk read-only memory format that lists and explains the health, education, and other benefits for which veterans are eligible under the laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Sponsor: Rep Cardoza, Dennis A. [CA-18] (introduced 6/14/07).Cosponsors (None). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.2795: Reasonable Rates for Veterans Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to set the rate of reimbursement under the beneficiary travel program of the Department of Veterans Affairs at $0.21 per mile. Sponsor: Rep Pearce, Stevan [NM-2] (introduced 6/20/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.2855: Wounded Heroes' Bill of Rights Act. A bill to provide for transitional emergency assistance to certain members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are severely injured while serving on active duty, to expand and improve programs for caregiver services for those members and veterans, to require improved screening and care for traumatic brain injury for returning servicemembers and veterans, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Rodriguez, Ciro D. [TX-23] (introduced 6/25/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.2874: Veterans' Health Care Improvement Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to make certain improvements in the provision of health care to veterans, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Michaud, Michael H. [ME-2] (introduced 6/27/07). Cosponsors (23). Status: Forwarded by Subcommittee to Full Committee (Amended) by Voice Vote. 7/27/2007 Placed on the Union Calendar, Calendar No. 170.

H.R.2910: VETS Act of 2007. A bill to amend the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act to provide for reimbursement to members of the Armed Forces of tuition for programs of education delayed by military service, for deferment of students loans and reduced interest rates for members of the Armed Forces during periods of military service, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Davis, Susan A. [CA-53] (introduced 6/28/07). Cosponsors (64). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity.

H.R.2943: Benefit Rating Acceleration for Veteran Entitlements Act of 2007. A bill to amend titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act to provide for treatment of disability rated and certified as total by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs as disability for purposes of such titles. Sponsor: Rep Sarbanes, John P. [MD-3] (introduced 6/28/07). Cosponsors (60). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means. To support this bill and/or contact your Representative refer to http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=10020981&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

H.R.2996: Military Retiree Dislocation Assistance Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 37, United States Code, to provide a dislocation allowance under section 407 of such title to retired members of the uniformed services, including members placed on the temporary disability retired list, moving from their last duty station to their designated home. Sponsor: Rep Drake, Thelma D. [VA-2] (introduced 7/11/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and in addition to the Committees on Agriculture, and Ways and Means, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

H.R.3008: Rural Veterans Services Outreach and Training Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve services for veterans residing in rural areas. Sponsor: Rep Wu, David [OR-1] (introduced 7/11/07). Cosponsors (15). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

H.R.3040: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide additional educational assistance under the Montgomery GI Bill to veterans pursuing a degree in science, technology, engineering, or math.
Sponsor: Rep Space, Zachary T. [OH-18] (introduced 7/12/07).Cosponsors 10). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.3046: Social Security Number Privacy and Identity Theft Prevention Act of 2007. A bill to amend the Social Security Act to enhance Social Security account number privacy protections, to prevent fraudulent misuse of the Social Security account number, and to otherwise enhance protection against identity theft, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep McNulty, Michael R. [NY-21] (introduced 7/16/07). Cosponsors (53). Status: 9/24/2007 Placed on the Union Calendar, Calendar No. 210.

H.R.3047: Veterans Claims Processing Innovation Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the processing of claims for benefits administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Lamborn, Doug [CO-5] (introduced 7/16/07). Cosponsors (23). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs.

H.R.3070: Disabled Veterans' Caregiver Compensation Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to authorize additional compensation to be paid to certain veterans in receipt of compensation for a service-connected disability rated totally disabling for whom a family member dependent on the veteran for support provides care. Sponsor: Rep Peterson, Collin C. [MN-7] (introduced 7/17/07). Cosponsors (none). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs.

H.R.3099: National Guard and Reserve Higher Education Fairness Act. A bill to amend title 10, to permit members of the Selected Reserves and members of the reserve component to renter their military service and receive chapter 1607 education benefits if that member has earned such benefit before originally separating from service. Sponsor: Rep Carney, Christopher P. [PA-10] (introduced 7/19/07). Cosponsors (55). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.3103: Veteran's Choice in Nursing Home Care Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to provide partial payment for nursing home care to eligible veterans at a non-Department of Veterans Affairs nursing home of the veteran's choice, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Drake, Thelma D. [VA-2] (introduced 7/19/07). Cosponsors (3). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

H.R.3128: A bill to direct the Secretary of Defense to conduct a study on the feasibility of using military identification numbers instead of social security numbers to identify members of the Armed Forces. Sponsor: Rep Gohmert, Louie [TX-1] (introduced 7/23/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.3191: Wounded Warrior Information Sharing Act. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to provide for the transfer of certain contact information for a member of the Armed Forces who is being medically separated or retired under chapter 61 of such title to the department or agency for veterans affairs of the State in which the member intends to reside. Sponsor: Rep Courtney, Joe [CT-2] (introduced 7/26/07). Cosponsors (36). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.3210: Wounded Warriors Expansion of Care Act of 2007. A bill to provide medical care and other benefits for members and former members of the Armed Forces with severe injuries or illnesses. Sponsor: Rep Donnelly, Joe [IN-2] (introduced 7/27/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.3249: Veterans Burial Benefits Improvement Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to increase burial benefits for veterans, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Berkley, Shelley [NV-1] (introduced 7/31/07). Cosponsors (22). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs.

H.R.3286: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to reduce the period of time for which a veteran must be totally disabled before the veteran's survivors are eligible for the benefits provided by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs for survivors of certain veterans rated totally disabled at time of death. Sponsor: Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] (introduced 8/1/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs.

H.R.3298: 21st Century Servicemembers Protection Act . A bill to amend the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act to allow individuals called to military service to terminate or suspend certain service contracts entered into before the individual receives notice of a permanent change of station or deployment orders and to provide penalties for violations of interest rate limitations. Sponsor: Rep Murphy, Patrick J. [PA-8] (introduced 8/1/07). Cosponsors (66). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity.

H.R.3329 : Homes for Heroes Act of 2007. A bill to provide housing assistance for very low-income veterans. Sponsor: Rep Green, Al [TX-9] (introduced 8/2/07). Cosponsors (15). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services.

H.R.3380: A bill to amend title 4, United States Code, to prescribe that members of the Armed Forces and veterans out of uniform may render the military salute during hoisting, lowering, or passing of flag. Sponsor: Rep Boren, Dan [OK-2] (introduced 8/3/07). Cosponsors (15). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties.

H.R.3393: Reservist Access to Justice Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve veterans' reemployment rights under chapter 43 of such title, to exempt claims brought under that chapter from arbitration under chapter 1 of title 9 of such Code, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Davis, Artur [AL-7] (introduced 8/3/07). Cosponsors (8). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity.

H.R.3415: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to authorize the placement in a national cemetery of memorial markers for the purpose of commemorating servicemembers or other persons whose remains are interred in an American Battle Monuments Commission cemetery. Sponsor: Rep Langevin, James R. [RI-2] (introduced 8/3/07). Cosponsors (4). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs.

H.R.3423: United States Cadet Nurse Corps Equity Act. A bill to provide that service of the members of the organization known as the United States Cadet Nurse Corps during World War II constituted active military service for purposes of laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Sponsor: Rep Lowey, Nita M. [NY-18] (introduced 8/3/07). Cosponsors (7). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.3429: Hire a Hero Act . A bill to authorize a competitive grant program to assist members of the National Guard and Reserve and former and current members of the Armed Forces in securing employment in the private sector, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Murphy, Patrick J. [PA-8] (introduced 8/3/07). Cosponsors (18). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.3449: Guard and Reserve Early Retirement Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to provide eligibility for reduced non-regular service military retired pay before age 60, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Wilson, Joe [SC-2] (introduced 8/3/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.3458: A bill to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out a pilot program on the provision of traumatic brain injury care in rural areas. Sponsor: Rep Capito, Shelley Moore [WV-2] (introduced 8/4/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

H.R.3471: Atomic Veterans Medal Act of 2007. A bill to provide for the award of a military service medal to members of the Armed Forces who were exposed to ionizing radiation as a result of participation in a test of atomic weapons. Sponsor: Rep Tiahrt, Todd [KS-4] (introduced 9/4/07). Cosponsors (4). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.3581: A bill to clarify the roles of the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs disability evaluation systems for retirement and compensation of members of the Armed Forces for disability, to require the development of a single physical exam that can be used to determine both fitness for duty and disability ratings, to standardize fitness testing among the Armed Forces, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Jones, Walter B., Jr. [NC-3] (introduced 9/19/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.3620: Homecoming Enhancement Research and Oversight Act. A bill to provide for a comprehensive national research effort on the physical and mental health and other readjustment needs of the members of the Armed Forces and veterans who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom and their families. Sponsor: Rep Kilpatrick, Carolyn C. [MI-13] (introduced 9/20/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.3645: A bill to implement recommendations of the President's Commission on Care for America's Returning Wounded Warriors. Sponsor: Rep Space, Zachary T. [OH-18] (introduced 9/24/07). Cosponsors (5). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.3786: A bill to amend the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act to allow individuals called to military service to terminate telecommunications contracts entered into before the individual receives notice of a permanent change of station or deployment orders. Sponsor: Rep Lofgren, Zoe [CA-16] (introduced 10/9/07). Cosponsors (5). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.3794: A bill to improve the availability of benefits for veterans and the surviving spouses of veterans who were exposed while in military service to ionizing radiation, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] (introduced 10/10/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, and in addition to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

H.R.3795: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide that veterans of service in the 1991 Persian Gulf War and subsequent conflicts shall be considered to be radiation-exposed veterans for purposes of the service-connection of certain diseases and disabilities, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] (introduced 10/10/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans'

H.R.3819: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to reimburse veterans receiving emergency treatment in non-Department of Veterans Affairs facilities for such treatment until such veterans are transferred to Department facilities, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Space, Zachary T. [OH-18] (introduced 10/10/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.3882: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to change the length of the obligated period of service on active duty required for receiving certain education benefits administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Walz, Timothy J. [MN-1] (introduced 10/17/07). Cosponsors (75). Status: Forwarded by Subcommittee to Full Committee.

H.R.3954: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to reimburse certain volunteers who provide funeral honors details at the funerals of veterans. Sponsor: Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] (introduced 10/24/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans'.

[Source: http://thomas.loc.gov/bss/110search.html 29 Oct 07 ++]

Senate Bills   Note: A short description of each Bill is being provided.

United States Senate website: http://www.senate.gov/  
To contact Members of the United States, go to : http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm  

     Of the 2251 Senate bills introduced in the 110th Congress to date, following are those of interest to the veteran community. By clicking on the bill number you can access the actual legislative language of the bill and see if your representative has signed on as a cosponsor. Support of these bills by other legislators is critical if they are ever going to move through the legislative process for a floor vote to become law. A good indication on that likelihood is the number of cosponsors who have signed onto the bill. A cosponsor is a member of Congress who has joined one or more members in his/her chamber (i.e. House or Senate) to sponsor a bill or amendment. The member who introduces the bill is considered the sponsor. Members subsequently signing on are called cosponsors. Any number of members may cosponsor a bill in the House or Senate. At http://thomas.loc.gov you can also review a copy of each bill, determine its current status, the committee it has been assigned to, and if your legislator is a sponsor or cosponsor of it. To determine what bills, amendments your representative has sponsored, cosponsored, or dropped sponsorship on refer to http://thomas.loc.gov/bss/d110/sponlst.html The key to increasing cosponsorship is letting our representatives know of veterans feelings on issues. At the end of some listed bills is a web link that can be used to do that. Otherwise, you can locate on http://thomas.loc.gov who your representative is and his/her phone number, mailing address, or email/website to communicate with a message or letter of your own making:

S.0022: Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to establish a program of educational assistance for members of the Armed Forces who serve in the Armed Forces after September 11, 2001, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Webb, Jim [VA] (introduced 1/4/07). Cosponsors (24). Status: Committee on Veterans' Affairs. Hearings held. To support this bill and/or contact your Senator refer to http://capwiz.com/moaa/issues/bills/?bill=9242071

S.0038: A bill to require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a program for the provision of readjustment and mental health services to veterans who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Domenici, Pete V. [NM] (introduced 5/23/07). Cosponsors (10). Companion Bill is H.R.0025. Committee on Veterans' Affairs. Hearings held.

S.0057: Filipino Veterans Equity Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to deem certain service in the organized military forces of the Government of the Commonwealth of the Philippines and the Philippine Scouts to have been active service for purposes of benefits under programs administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Sponsor: Sen Inouye, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 1/4/07). Cosponsors (15). Companion bill H.R.0760. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.0066: A bill to require the Secretary of the Army to determine the validity of the claims of certain Filipinos that they performed military service on behalf of the United States during World War II.
Sponsor: Sen Inouye, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 1/4/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.0067: A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to permit former members of the Armed Forces who have a service-connected disability rated as total to travel on military aircraft in the same manner and to the same extent as retired members of the Armed Forces are entitled to travel on such aircraft. Sponsor: Sen Inouye, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 1/4/07). Cosponsors (6). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

S.0071: A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to authorize certain disabled former prisoners of war (POWs) to use DoD commissary and exchange stores. Sponsor: Sen Inouye, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 1/4/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

S.0117: Veterans Health and Benefits Improvement Act of 2007. A bill to amend titles 10 and 38, United States Code, to improve benefits and services for members of the Armed Forces, veterans of the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), and other veterans, to require reports on the effects of the GWOT, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Obama, Barack [IL] (introduced 1/4/07). Cosponsors (15). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.0161: Veterans' Disability Compensation Automatic COLA Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for annual cost-of-living adjustments to be made automatically by law each year in the rates of disability compensation for veterans with service-connected disabilities and the rates of dependency and indemnity compensation for survivors of certain service-connected disabled veterans.
Sponsor: Sen Thune, John [SD] (introduced 1/4/07). Cosponsors (2). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs. To support this bill and/or contact your Senator refer to
http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=9568626&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

S.0207: Voluntary Support for Reservists and National Guard Members Act. A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow taxpayers to designate part or all of any income tax refund to support reservists and National Guard members. Sponsor: Sen Coleman, Norm [MN] (introduced 1/9/07). Cosponsors (2). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance.

S.0225: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to expand the number of individuals qualifying for retroactive benefits from traumatic injury protection coverage under Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance. It would expand retroactive payments of traumatic injury insurance to servicemembers injured outside a combat area between 10 OCT 01 and 1 DEC 05. Sponsor: Sen Craig, Larry E. [ID] (introduced 1/9/07). Cosponsors (3). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs. To support this bill and/or contact your Senator refer to
http://capwiz.com/moaa/issues/bills/?bill=9242246

S.0326: Disabled Veterans Tax Fairness Act of 2007. A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide a special period of limitation when uniformed services retirement pay is reduced as result of award of disability compensation. Sponsor: Sen Lincoln, Blanche L. [AR] (introduced 1/17/07). Cosponsors (29). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance. To support this bill and/or contact your Senator refer to http://capwiz.com/moaa/issues/bills/?bill=9294921

S.0383: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to extend the period of eligibility for health care for combat service in the Persian Gulf War or future hostilities from two years to five years after discharge or release. Sponsor: Sen Akaka, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 1/24/07). Cosponsors (4). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.0415: Veterans' Memorials … Protection Act of 2007. A bill to amend the Revised Statutes of the United States to prevent the use of the legal system in a manner that among other things will stop the award of taxpayer dollars in legal fees to groups filing lawsuits against veterans’ memorials and public displays of religion. Sponsor: Sen Brownback, Sam [KS] (introduced 1/29/07). Cosponsors (20). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

S.0423: Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2007. A bill to increase, effective as of December 1, 2007, the rates of compensation for veterans with service-connected disabilities and the rates of dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC) for the survivors of certain disabled veterans. Sponsor: Sen Akaka, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 1/29/07). Cosponsors (10). 7/24/07 Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders. Calendar No. 283.

S.0439: Retired Pay Restoration Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to permit certain retired members of the uniformed services who have a service-connected disability to receive both disability compensation from the VA for their disability and either retired pay by reason of their years of military service or Combat-Related Special Compensation. Sponsor: Sen Reid, Harry [NV] (introduced 1/31/07). Cosponsors (28). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

S.0479: Veterans Suicide Prevention Act. A bill to reduce the incidence of suicide among veterans. Sponsor: Sen Harkin, Tom [IA] (introduced 2/1/07). Cosponsors (31). Status: Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar 7/23/07 under General Orders. Calendar No. 279.

S.0604: Military Retirees Health Care Protection Act. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to limit increases in the certain costs of health care services under the health care programs of DoD, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Lautenberg, Frank R. [NJ] (introduced 2/15/07). Cosponsors (20). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services. To support this bill and/or contact your Senator refer to
http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=9388371&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

S.0617: Veterans Eagle Parks Pass Act. A bill to make the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass available at a discount to certain veterans. Sponsor: Sen Smith, Gordon H. [OR] (introduced 2/15/07). Cosponsors (12). Status: Status: Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Senate Subcommittee on National Parks. Hearings held. With printed Hearing: S.Hrg. 110-158.

S.0643: Disabled Veterans Insurance Act of 2007. A bill to amend section 1922A of title 38, United States Code, to increase the amount of supplemental insurance available for totally disabled veterans. Sponsor: Sen Akaka, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 2/15/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.0644: Total Force Montgomery GI Bill. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to recodify as part of that title certain educational assistance programs for members of the reserve components of the Armed Forces, to improve such programs, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Lincoln, Blanche L. [AR] (introduced 2/15/07). Cosponsors (18). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

S.0648: National Guard and Reserve Retirement Modernization Act. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to reduce the eligibility age for receipt of non-regular military service retired pay for members of the Ready Reserve in active federal status or on active duty for significant periods. Sponsor: Sen Chambliss, Saxby [GA] (introduced 2/15/07). Cosponsors (16). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

S.0659: A bill to amend section 1477 of title 10, United States Code, to provide for the payment of the death gratuity with respect to members of the Armed Forces without a surviving spouse who are survived by a minor child. Sponsor: Sen Hagel, Chuck [NE] (introduced 2/16/07). Cosponsors (6). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services. Companion Bill is H.R.1115. To support this bill and/or contact your Representative refer to http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=9423746&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

S.0671: Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act. A bill to exempt children of certain Filipino World War II veterans from the numerical limitations on immigrant visas. Sponsor: Sen Akaka, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 2/16/07). Cosponsors (11). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

S.0713: Dignity for Wounded Warriors Act. A bill to ensure dignity in care for members of the Armed Forces recovering from injuries. Sponsor: Sen Obama, Barack [IL] (introduced 2/28/07). Cosponsors (34). Companion Bill is H.R.1268. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services. To support this bill and/or contact your Senator refer to
http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=9454946&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

S.0723: Montgomery GI Bill Enhancement Act of 2007. A bill to provide certain enhancements to the Montgomery GI Bill Program for certain individuals who serve as members of the Armed Forces after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Hagel, Chuck [NE] (introduced 3/1/07). Cosponsors (2). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

S.0773: A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow Federal civilian and military retirees to pay health insurance premiums on a pretax basis and to allow a deduction for TRICARE supplemental premiums. Sponsor: Sen Warner, John [VA] (introduced 3/6/07). Cosponsors (52). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance. Companion bill to H.R.1110. To support this bill and/or contact your Senator refer to
http://capwiz.com/moaa/issues/alert/?alertid=9598891&type=CO

S.0793: Reauthorization of the Traumatic Brain Injury Act. A bill to provide for the expansion and improvement of traumatic brain injury programs. Sponsor: Sen Hatch, Orrin G. [UT] (introduced 3/7/07). Cosponsors (19). Companion bill to H.R.1418. Status: 8/1/2007 Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders. Calendar No. 317.

S.0815: Veterans Health Care Empowerment Act of 2007. A bill to provide health care benefits to veterans with a service-connected disability at non-DVA medical facilities that receive payments under the Medicare program or the TRICARE program. Sponsor: Sen Craig, Larry E. [ID] (introduced 3/8/07). Cosponsors (3). Companion bill to H.R.1416. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.0847: A bill to extend the period of time during which a veteran's multiple sclerosis is to be considered to have been incurred in, or aggravated by, military service during a period of war. Sponsor: Sen Murray, Patty [WA] (introduced 3/13/07). Cosponsors (2). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.0848: Prisoner of War Benefits Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide improved benefits for veterans who are former prisoners of war. Sponsor: Sen Murray, Patty [WA] (introduced 3/13/07). Cosponsors (2). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.0882: A bill to require a pilot program on the facilitation of the transition of members of the Armed Forces to receipt of veterans health care benefits upon completion of military service, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Menendez, Robert [NJ] (introduced 3/14/07). Cosponsors (7). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.0935: A bill to repeal the requirement for reduction of survivor annuities under the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) by veterans' dependency and indemnity compensation, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Nelson, Bill [FL] (introduced 3/20/07). Cosponsors (43). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services. To support this bill and/or contact your Senator refer to http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=9549971&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

S.0961: Belated Thank You to the Merchant Mariners of World War II Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 46, United States Code, to provide benefits to certain individuals who served in the United States merchant marine (including the Army Transport Service and the Naval Transport Service) during World War II, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Nelson, E. Benjamin [NE] (introduced 3/22/07). Cosponsors (53). Companion bill H.R.0023. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.0986: Combat-Related Special Compensation Act of 2007. A bill to expand eligibility for Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) paid by the uniformed services in order to permit certain additional retired members who have a service-connected disability to receive both disability compensation from the DVA for that disability and Combat-Related Special Compensation by reason of that disability. Sponsor: Sen Reid, Harry [NV] (introduced 3/26/07). Cosponsors (4). Companion bill H.R.0089. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services. To support this bill and/or contact your Senator refer to http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=9581151&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

S.0994: Disabled Veterans Fairness Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to eliminate the deductible and change the method of determining the mileage reimbursement rate under the beneficiary travel program administered by the Secretary of Veteran Affairs, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Tester, Jon [MT] (introduced 3/27/07). Cosponsors (9). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.1005: Military Reservist and Veteran Small Business Reauthorization Act of 2007. A bill to amend the Small Business Act to improve programs for veterans, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Kerry, John F. [MA] (introduced 3/28/07). Cosponsors (4). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

S.1065: Heroes at Home Act of 2007. A bill to improve the diagnosis and treatment of traumatic brain injury in members and former members of the Armed Forces, to review and expand telehealth and telemental health programs of the DoD and the DVA. Sponsor: Sen Clinton, Hillary Rodham [NY] (introduced 3/29/07). Cosponsors (8). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

S.1084: Homes for Heroes Act of 2007. A bill to provide housing assistance for very low-income veterans. Sponsor: Sen Obama, Barack [IL] (introduced 4/10/07). Cosponsors (9). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

S.1096: Veterans Housing Benefits Enhancement Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide certain housing benefits to disabled members of the Armed Forces, to expand certain benefits for disabled veterans with severe burns, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Cornyn, John [TX] (introduced 4/12/07). Cosponsors (5). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.1097: Cold War Medal Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to provide for the award of a military service medal to members of the Armed Forces who served honorably during the Cold War era. Sponsor: Sen Clinton, Hillary Rodham [NY] (introduced 4/12/07). Cosponsors (1). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

S.1146: Rural Veterans Health Care Improvement Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve health care for veterans who live in rural areas, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Salazar, Ken [CO] (introduced 4/18/07). Cosponsors (26). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs. To support this bill and/or contact your Senator refer to http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=10064941&queueid=1314882681

S.1147: Honor Our Commitment to Veterans Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to terminate the administrative freeze on the enrollment into the health care system of the Department of Veterans Affairs of veterans in the lowest priority category for enrollment (referred to as "Priority 8"). Sponsor: Sen Murray, Patty [WA] (introduced 4/18/07). Cosponsors (4). Companion Bill H.R.0463. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.1163: Blinded Veterans Paired Organ Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve compensation and specially adapted housing for veterans in certain cases of impairment of vision involving both eyes, and to provide for the use of the National Directory of New Hires for income verification purposes. Sponsor: Sen Akaka, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 4/19/2007). Cosponsors (6). Status: Committee on Veterans' Affairs. Ordered to be reported without amendment favorably.

S.1196: Mental Health Care for Our Wounded Warriors Act. A bill to improve mental health care for wounded members of the Armed Forces, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Lieberman, Joseph I. [CT] (introduced 4/24/07). Cosponsors (6). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

S.1205: A bill to require a pilot program on assisting veterans service organizations and other veterans groups in developing and promoting peer support programs that facilitate community reintegration of veterans returning from active duty, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Smith, Gordon H. [OR] (introduced 4/25/07). Cosponsors (5). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.1233: Veterans Traumatic Brain Injury Rehabilitation Act of 2007. A bill to provide and enhance intervention, rehabilitative treatment, and services to veterans with traumatic brain injury, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Akaka, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 4/26/07). Cosponsors (10). Status: 8/29/2007 Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders. Calendar No. 335.

S.1243: A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to reduce the age for receipt of military retired pay for nonregular service from 60 years of age to 55 years of age. Sponsor: Sen Kerry, John F. [MA] (introduced 4/26/07). Cosponsors (6). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

S.1252: A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to provide for uniformity in the awarding of disability ratings for wounds or injuries incurred by members of the Armed Forces, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Sen Akaka, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 4/30/07). Cosponsors (2). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services. To support this bill and/or contact your Senator refer to
http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=9769981&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

S.1265: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to expand eligibility for veterans' mortgage life insurance to include members of the Armed Forced receiving specially adapted housing assistance from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Sponsor: Sen Craig, Larry E. [ID] (introduced 5/2/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.1266: Veterans' Dignified Burial Assistance Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to increase assistance for veterans interred in cemeteries other than national cemeteries, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Craig, Larry E. [ID] (introduced 5/2/07). Cosponsors (1). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.1283: Wounded Warrior Assistance Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to improve the management of medical care, personnel actions, and quality of life issues for members of the Armed Forces who are receiving medical care in an outpatient status, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Pryor, Mark L. [AR] (introduced 5/3/07). Cosponsors (2). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services. Companion Bill H.R.1538. Passed by Senate and referred to a Senate/House compromise committee.

S.1293: Veterans' Education and Vocational Benefits Improvement Act of 2007. A bill to amend titles 10 and 38, United States Code, to improve educational assistance for members and former members of the Armed Forces, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Craig, Larry E. [ID] (introduced 5/3/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.1314: Veterans Outreach Improvement Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the outreach activities of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Feingold, Russell D. [WI] (introduced 5/7/07). Cosponsors (1). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.1315: Disabled Veterans Insurance Improvement Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to enhance life insurance benefits for disabled veterans, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Akaka, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 5/7/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: 8/29/2007 Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders. Calendar No. 336.bill H.R.2026.

S.1326: Comprehensive Veterans Benefits Improvements Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve and enhance compensation and pension, health care, housing, burial, and other benefits for veterans, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen. Bernard Sanders [I-VT] (introduced 5/8/07). Cosponsors (none). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs. To support this bill and/or contact your Senator refer to
http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=10072701&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

S.1349: Military and Veterans Traumatic Brain Injury Treatment Act. A bill to ensure that the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs provide to members of the Armed Forces and veterans with traumatic brain injury the services that best meet their individual needs, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Durbin, Richard [IL] (introduced 5/9/07). Cosponsors (9). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

S.1363: Bridging the Gap for Wounded Warriors Act. A bill to improve health care for severely injured members and former members of the Armed Forces, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Clinton, Hillary Rodham [NY] (introduced 5/10/07). Cosponsors (6). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

S.1409: 21st Century GI Bill of Rights Act of 2007. A bill to provide and enhance education, housing, and entrepreneur assistance for veterans who serve in the Armed Forces after September 11, 2001, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Clinton, Hillary Rodham [NY] (introduced 5/16/07). Cosponsors (2). Companion bill H.R.2385. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.1441: State Veterans Home Modernization Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to modify authorities for the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to accept new applications for grants for State home construction projects to authorize the Secretary to award grants for construction of facilities used in non-institutional care programs, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Craig, Larry E. [ID] (introduced 5/21/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.1444: Supply Our Soldiers Act of 2007. A bill to provide for free mailing privileges for personal correspondence and parcels sent to members of the Armed Forces serving on active duty in Iraq or Afghanistan. Sponsor: Sen Clinton, Hillary Rodham [NY] (introduced 5/22/07). Cosponsors (3). Status: Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs referred to Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services, and International Security. To support this bill and/or contact your Senator refer to
http://capwiz.com/naus/issues/alert/?alertid=9933621&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id

S.1454: Veterans Burial Benefits Improvement Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to increase burial benefits for veterans, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Mikulski, Barbara A. [MD] (introduced 5/23/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.1468: Veterans Burial Benefits Improvement Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to increase burial benefits for veterans, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Mikulski, Barbara A. [MD] (introduced 5/23/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.1480: Gold Star Parents Annuity Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for the payment of a monthly stipend to the surviving parents (known as "Gold Star parents") of members of the Armed Forces who die during a period of war. Sponsor: Sen Clinton, Hillary Rodham [NY] (introduced 5/24/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.1481: Fair and Reliable Medical Justice Act. A bill to restore fairness and reliability to the medical justice system and promote patient safety by fostering alternatives to current medical tort litigation, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Baucus, Max [MT] (introduced 5/24/07). Cosponsors (2). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

S.1569: Veterans Advocacy Act of 2007. A bill to establish a pilot program on the provision of legal services to assist veterans and members of the Armed Forces receive health care, benefits and services, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Feingold, Russell D. [WI] (introduced 6/7/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.1606: Dignified Treatment of Wounded Warriors Act. A bill to provide for the establishment of a comprehensive policy on the care and management of wounded warriors in order to facilitate and enhance their care, rehabilitation, physical evaluation, transition from care by the Department of Defense to care by the Department of Veterans Affairs, and transition from military service to civilian life, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Levin, Carl [MI] (introduced 6/13/07). Cosponsors (46). 6/18/07 Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders. Calendar No. 203.

S.1645: Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2008. An original bill making appropriations for military construction, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2008, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Reed, Jack [RI] (introduced 6/18/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar 6/18/07 under General Orders. Calendar No. 205.

S.1670: Servicemembers' Healthcare Benefits and Rehabilitation Enhancement Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to improve the management of medical care for members of the Armed Forces, to improve the speed and efficiency of the physical disability evaluation system of the Department of Defense, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Snowe, Olympia J. [ME] (introduced 6/20/07).Cosponsors (None). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

S.1688: Higher Education Opportunity for Our National Guard and Reserve Soldiers Act. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to extend the time limit for the use of education assistance by members of the Selected Reserve and members of the reserve component supporting contingency operations and certain other operations. Sponsor: Sen Casey, Robert P., Jr. [PA] (introduced 6/25/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

S.1718: VETS Act. A bill to amend the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act to provide for reimbursement to servicemembers of tuition for programs of education interrupted by military service, for deferment of students loans and reduced interest rates for servicemembers during periods of military service, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Brown, Sherrod [OH] (introduced 6/27/07). Cosponsors (13). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.1719: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide additional educational assistance under the Montgomery GI Bill to veterans pursuing a degree in science, technology, engineering, or math. Sponsor: Sen Brown, Sherrod [OH] (introduced 6/27/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.1757: Veterans' Authorities Expansion Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to extend or make permanent certain authorities for veterans' benefits, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Akaka, Daniel K. [HI] (by request) (introduced 7/10/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.1763: Cold War Medal Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to provide for the award of a military service medal to members of the Armed Forces who served honorably during the Cold War era. Sponsor: Sen Clinton, Hillary Rodham [NY] (introduced 7/11/2007). Cosponsors (1). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

S.1784: Military Reservist and Veteran Small Business Reauthorization and Opportunity Act of 2007. A bill to amend the Small Business Act to improve programs for veterans, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Kerry, John F. [MA] (introduced 7/12/07). Cosponsors (6). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

S.1822: Interest Relief Act. A bill to amend the Federal Direct Loan Program to provide that interest shall not accrue on Federal Direct Loans for active duty service members and their spouses. Sponsor: Sen Bayh, Evan [IN] (introduced 7/19/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

S.1877: A bill to amend title 4, United States Code, to prescribe that members of the Armed Forces and veterans out of uniform may render the miltary salute during hoisting, lowering, or passing of flag. Sponsor: Sen Inhofe, James M. [OK] (introduced 7/25/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.

S.1879: A bill to amend titles 10 and 37, United States Code, to reduce the minimum age of retirement for years of non-regular service for reserves who serve on active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, to increase the amount of educational assistance for members of the Selected Reserve, and to provide certain other benefits relating to service in the reserve components of the Armed Forces, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Schumer, Charles E. [NY] (introduced 7/26/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

S.2004: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to establish epilepsy centers of excellence in the Veterans Health Administration of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Sen Murray, Patty [WA] (introduced 8/3/07). Cosponsors (3). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.2026: Agent Orange Equitable Compensation Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, chapter 11, to clarify that an award of benefits based on a regulatory presumption established pursuant to 28 U.S.C. section 1116 after September 30, 2002, cannot be made effective earlier than the date the regulatory presumption was established; and to clarify that the presumption of herbicide exposure provided by 38 U.S.C. section 1116(f) applies only to veterans who served in Vietnam on land or on Vietnam's inland waterways and not to those who served only in waters offshore or in airspace above. Sponsor: Sen Akaka, Daniel K. [HI] (by request) (introduced 9/6/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.2027: Veterans' Pride Initiative Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, chapter 5, to authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish and promote programs and activities honoring veterans and to authorize the next of kin of a deceased veteran to wear the veteran's awards and decorations under certain circumstances. Sponsor: Sen Akaka, Daniel K. [HI] (by request) (introduced 9/6/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.2089: Medicare Prescription Drug Gap Reduction Act of 2007. A bill to amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to reduce the coverage gap in prescription drug coverage under part D of such title based on savings to the Medicare program resulting from the negotiation of prescription drug prices. Sponsor: Sen Nelson, Bill [FL] (introduced 9/25/07). Cosponsors (9). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance

S.2119: American Veterans Disabled for Life Commemorative Coin Act. A bill to require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint coins in commemoration of veterans who became disabled for life while serving in the Armed Forces of the United States. Sponsor: Sen Johnson, Tim [SD] (introduced 10/1/07). Cosponsors (29). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

S.2142: Veterans Emergency Care Fairness Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to reimburse veterans receiving emergency treatment in non-Department of Veterans Affairs facilities for such treatment until such veterans are transferred to Department facilities, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Brown, Sherrod [OH] (introduced 10/4/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.2160: Veterans Pain Care Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to establish a pain care initiative in health care facilities of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Akaka, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 10/15/07). Cosponsors (3). Status: Committee on Veterans' Affairs. Hearings held.

S.2162: Mental Health Improvements Act of 2007. A bill to improve the treatment and services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs to veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and substance use disorders, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Akaka, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 10/15/07). Cosponsors (2). Status: Committee on Veterans' Affairs. Hearings held.

S.2218: Atomic Veterans Medal Act of 2007. A bill to provide for the award of a military service medal to members of the Armed Forces who were exposed to ionizing radiation as a result of participation in a test of atomic weapons. Sponsor: Sen Roberts, Pat [KS] (introduced 10/23/07). Cosponsors (None).Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

[Source: http://thomas.loc.gov/bss/110search.html 29 Oct 07 ++]



15 October 2007
VA Physician Qualifications (Hiring System Validity Questioned.)
Marine Reserve Bonus (Expanded)
Overseas Holiday Mailing 2007 (Mailing Dates)
VA Obesity Initiative Update 02 (Epidemic Of Diabetes.)
VA Flu Shots (2007/08 Season.)
VA Health Care Funding Update 11 (IL Referendum.)
West Virginia Vet Cemetery (Funded By Lottery.)
VA Polytrauma Rehab Centers (Not Up To Speed.)
VA Clinic Indianapolis IN (Fund Source.)
VA VistA Update 01 (Outage Cripples Patient Care.)
Check/Money Order Scams (Consumers Are An Easy Prey.)
Funeral Honors Update 03 (Customs And Traditions.)
Arlington National Cemetery Update 01 (Good Thru 2060.)
VA Facility Expansion Update 10 (Chicago VA-DoD.)
Massachusetts DPL Data Breach (450,000 SSN’s Released.)
SBP Basics Update 02 (Good Or Bad deal?)
Tricare Reserve Select Update 08 (Continuation Coverage.)
Connecticut Vets Wartime Service Medal (270,000 Vets Eligible.)
VA CWT & IT (Change In Tax Status.)
VDBC Update 22 (25% Disability Pay Hike.)
VDBC Update 23 (Action Delayed Until 2008.)
Medicare Rates 2008 ($2.90 Increase Per Month.)
NDAA 2008 Update 09 (Senate Bill Passed.)
VA Polytrauma Care Update 01 (5th PRC Announced.)
Medicare Part D Update 16 (Closing The Doughnut Hole.)
Canadian National Military Cemetery (Available To U.S. Vets.)
Military Related Job Fairs Update 01 (15 Thru 31 Oct.)
Veteran Legislation Status 30 SEP 07 (Where We Stand.)

Editor Note:  I have ceased using the email addee raoemo@mozcom.com because spam messages at this addee have reached 150 daily. My email addee raoemo@sbcglobal.net will be the primary addee I will be monitoring after 15 SEP. I am activating raoemo1@mozcom.net as a backup in the event communications via the primary addee should become disrupted.

VA Physician Qualifications: Sens. Dick Durbin and Barack Obama say their own investigation raises serious questions about Veterans Affairs Department claims that officials couldn't have known about a surgeon's troubling history before he was hired at an Illinois VA hospital. In a harshly worded letter to acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Gordon Mansfield on 11 OCT, the Illinois Democrats said their staffs easily found enough information to warrant a closer look at the qualifications of Dr. Jose Veizaga-Mendez. Veizaga-Mendez resigned from the Marion, Ill., VA hospital in August, shortly before the hospital suspended inpatient surgeries because of a spike in post-surgical deaths, reportedly from OCT 2006 to March of this year. Durbin has said he was told that nine people died at the Marion hospital during an unspecified six-month period when the typical mortality rate would have been two. He also has said that after hearing from Dr. Michael Kussman, a VA undersecretary, it is clear Veizaga-Mendez had some involvement with those surgeries.

     Veizaga-Mendez was hired in Marion even though he was barred from practicing in Massachusetts last year after accusations of grossly substandard care. "It appears the VA's efforts to discover the truth about Dr. Veizaga-Mendez, his past professional history, and the circumstances surrounding his license forfeiture were far from adequate and may have put the veterans seeking care at Marion in danger," the senators wrote. In a statement Thursday, the VA said it conducts a thorough background check that includes verification of professional credentials, competence, personal backgrounds and checks them against the national Practitioner Data Bank-Healthcare Integrity and Protection Data Bank. But Durbin and Obama said Kussman and another VA undersecretary, Dr. Gerald Cross, had said it was impossible for the VA to know whether Veizaga-Mendez had accurately described why he had surrendered his license in Massachusetts. "A cursory check by our staff of publicly available information has cast doubt on the validity of that claim," they wrote. Some of the information was readily available on the website of the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine, the senators said. At the time the doctor was hired at Marion, information about medical malpractice payments he had made in 2004 and 2005, as well as the fact that he had been the subject of a hospital disciplinary action, were available on the website, they said.

     In a separate announcement the VA said that they will be adding 2,000 advanced residency positions for Doctors in the next 5 years. The VA already helps to train nearly half of all physicians in the United States. Presently every year 31,000 medical residents and 16,000 medical students receive some of their training at a VA facility. In JUL the VA added 341 new positions. Through its affiliations with medical schools and universities, the VA is the largest provider of health care training in the United States. Currently, 130 VA medical facilities are affiliated with 107 of the nation's 126 medical schools. These training positions address VA’s critical needs and provide skilled health care professionals for the entire nation. The additional resident positions will also encourage innovation in education that will improve patient care, enable physicians in different disciplines to work together and will incorporate state-of-the-art models of clinical care, including VA’s renowned quality and patient safety programs and electronic medical record system.
[Source: AP article & TREA Washington Update 12 Oct 07 ++]

Marine Reserve Bonus: The Marines are offering the following expanded bonuses for affiliation with a Marine Corps Reserve drilling unit:

* Prior-service corporals, sergeants and staff sergeants who join a unit within three years of leaving active duty will get a $15,000 bonus.
* Enlisted Marines already assigned to a drilling unit who re-enlist for three years will garner $7,500 for a first-time re-enlistment and $6,000 for subsequent re-enlistments. Such re-enlistments include a supplementary “kicker” of up to $350 monthly under the Montgomery GI Bill-Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR).
* High school graduates who agree to serve in drilling units for six years after completing initial pipeline training, plus an additional two years in the Individual Ready Reserve, will receive a $20,000 bonus. They also will be eligible for the $350 MGIB-SR kicker.
* Company-grade officers who left the active component within the last three years and join a drilling unit in fiscal 2008 will be eligible for a $10,000 affiliation bonus.
* MarAdmins 567/07, 568/07, 572/07 and 573/07 apply to enlisted Marines, and MarAdmin 566/07 applies to officers.

[Source: Armed Forces News 12 Oct 07 ++]

Overseas Holiday Mailing 2007: Officials at the Military Postal Service Agency in Washington have established dates by for sending mail from the United States to overseas military mailing addressees for the holidays. In order to get holiday gifts to deployed service members by 25 DEC, mailers should heed the U.S. Postal Service’s suggested deadlines. Parcel post packages to deployed troops and those living on overseas installations should be sent by 13 NOV. Customers missing the parcel post deadline have the following options: Space-Available Mail (SAM) – 27 NOV; Parcel Airlift Mail (PAL) – 4 DEC (except for ZIP codes starting with 093, which is 1 DEC); Priority Mail and first-class letters and cards – 11 DEC (093 ZIP codes: 4 DEC); Express Mail Military Services – 18 DEC (not available to 093 ZIP codes). Parcel post packages sent to arrive by the start of Hanukkah at sundown 4 DEC should be mailed by 23 OCT. For other Hanukkah mailings, subtract 21 days from the deadlines listed above. To check mailing costs, visit  http://www.usps.com click on “calculate postage,” then “calculate domestic postage.” [Source: Armed Forces News 12 Oct 07 ++]

VA Obesity Initiative Update 02: NC8-TV Washington, DC broadcast on 9 OCT a report on a growing problem that's troubling the Department of Veterans Affairs. Namely, why are so many military veterans becoming obese and developing diabetes? Now the VA is looking into possible causes and promising cures. Former VA Secretary James Nicholson was shown saying, "We have an epidemic of diabetes among veterans in our country, and it's mostly adult-onset Type 2 diabetes, which is preventable." NC8 added, "At health fairs like this one at Washington's VA Medical Center, they're getting the word out. ... On the food front, they're researching veteran-specific nutrition." VA researcher Dr. William Yancey was shown saying, "We've specifically looked at low-carbohydrate diets and found pretty profound effects that their blood sugar's improved dramatically and they can come off some of their diabetes medications." The station added, "Like most doctors, VA health providers say diet and exercise are important to preventing obesity and the diabetes that often comes with it, but they say there are factors that might make veterans more susceptible to these diseases. A key worry – stress. ... The VA says it's adding stress-reduction therapy to weight loss programs and doing what it can to encourage vets." Nicholson was shown saying veterans are being urged to be more conscious of how they're eating and we're giving them prescriptions of how to do this better too. [Source: VSLO Office of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs 9 Oct 07 ++]

VA Flu Shots: Flu season will soon be here and veterans, especially the more elderly, are encouraged to get their shots. Most VA Medical Centers (VAMCs) are making preparations to administer these shots at no charge to enrolled veterans. If in doubt whether or not yours will be scheduling shots it is recommended you contact them. Shots are at no charge to enrolled veterans who would normally pay $20 to $30 if they were to obtain them through local medical services. Following are a few locations that have already made announcements:

* The Portland VA Medical Center has announced a series of flu vaccination clinics for enrolled veterans. The clinics will be held at VA facilities in Southwest Portland, East Portland, Bend, Salem, Warrenton and Vancouver Oregon.For a schedule of dates and times, go to  http://www.visn20.med.va.gov/portland  or call 503-220-8262, ext. 155725.
* "The Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center" reminds all enrolled veterans that the flu vaccine is now available to veterans during their regularly scheduled appointments beginning 22 OCT through JAN 07. There will be also be a walk-in flu clinic from 8:30 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m. 5-9 NOVin the medical center's auditorium on the second floor at the south end.
* Veterans enrolled in VA health care may obtain flu vaccines at upcoming walk-in clinics scheduled the following Saturdays and Sundays, 13, 14, 20, 21, 27, and 28 OCT at VA Western New York Healthcare System, 3495 Bailey Avenue. Enrolled veterans may also contact their primary care provider to obtain the vaccine. There is no charge for the flu vaccine for veterans enrolled in VA health care.
[Source: Various Oct 07 ++]

VA Health Care Funding Update 11: Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn has asked county boards in all 102 counties to approve placing an advisory referendum on the February primary election ballot asking voters whether the federal government should be required to adopt mandatory full funding of the Department of Veterans Affairs for the purpose of ensuring that all eligible honorably discharged U.S. veterans receive quality and accessible health care. In a letter to county clerks, Quinn said the issue of veterans' health care is of paramount importance to Illinois voters. Many county clerks agree with Quinn, but said costs for the county will be increased if any referendum is placed on the primary ballot. Perry County Clerk Kevin Kern, who serves as treasurer of the Illinois Association of County Clerks and Recorders (IACCR), said election costs are driven by the number of ballot styles that must be produced. With a referendum on the primary ballot, a non-partisan ticket would need to be printed in addition to specific party tickets. Costs of the programming of the ballots, paired with printing expenses and newspaper listing publication, would cost each county thousands of dollars, said Jackson County Clerk Larry Reinhardt, who serves as president of the IACCR.

     The increased cost is not the only concern of county clerks. Kern said since the referendum is advisory, it is simply meant to demonstrate support and would not create any binding effects. "Advisory basically means it isn't worth the paper it was printed on," Kern said. Placing a referendum on the primary ballot would also require additional education and training for poll workers. Quinn and his citizen support organization sent letters petitioning support for the referendums in September, stating that three counties, including Jefferson County, had already approved the referendum. Jefferson County Clerk Connie Simmons said the county board did approve the referendum but did not consult her before doing so. She would have advised the board to discuss placing the referendum on the November 2008 general election ballot. Reinhardt said a vast majority of county clerks in attendance at the IACCR's convention in September agreed that supporting a November referendum would be the preferred action. After the September convention and the letter from Quinn, Kern sent a letter of response to the lieutenant governor, addressing some of his concerns and also showing support for the overall goal of the proposal. "I think most all citizens would share Lt. Gov. Qinn's view that veterans' health care should rightfully be a high priority," Kern wrote in the letter. "Knowing that the lieutenant governor is also a watchdog for government waste and inefficiency, I would hope he would advocate that such a referendum be placed on a general election ballot when there would be much less added cost or confusion." [Source: The Sourthern Illoisan Testa article 10 Oct 07 ++]

West Virginia Vet Cemetery: West Virginia veterans might get a final resting place near Institute in the first state-run veterans cemetery if a proposal sparked by Veterans Affairs Director Larry Linch is acceptable to Gov. Joe Manchin. Linch compiled a lengthy study on the proposal and outlined much of its contents 9 OCT to Select Committee B on Veterans Issues, saying the Veterans Council eyed two other potential sites — Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park near Summersville and land offered by a church in Logan County. “That was one of the issues that actually has been on the books since 1970 — that the state should run a veterans cemetery. But there had never been a funding source.” Linch said. All that changed, however, with the advent of the special veterans scratch-off lottery, and Linch is asking Manchin to sanction a second one in case a backup is needed. Linch quoted Lottery Commission officials as telling him the veterans scratch-off is the most consistently selling of the state-run lotteries. On average, it rakes in $952,000 in sales, of which $700,000 is dedicated to bonds. That leaves $252,000, along with $70,000 a year in interest, meaning the Veterans Council is only about $5,000 shy of meeting the estimated $327,105 to get the cemetery functioning. Dow Chemical is putting up a 300-acre tract on which a house of worship is going up, Linch pointed out.

     The West Virginia Veterans Council is composed of men and women who served in World War II, Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm and Operation Enduring Freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan. A federally run cemetery in Grafton contains some 5,690 graves, adding 30 each month. For years, prevailing sentiment has focused on creating a veterans cemetery in southern West Virginia, the director said. “This is something that can be done in two to three years, if the governor gives us authority to proceed,” he said. There are some 32,000 veterans in southern West Virginia, and by that, Linch defines them as residents south of U.S. 33. Of that number, more than half — 19,000 — are in Kanawha County, it was pointed out. Sen. Jon Blair Hunter, D-Monongalia, himself a Korean War veteran, suggested the idea of a state-run cemetery open exclusively to veterans and their spouses would be an appealing idea, based on the camaraderie among those once in uniform. “There’s a sense among veterans that they want to be with other veterans,” he said.
[Source: Register-Herald Reporter Mannix Porterfield article 10 Oct 07 ++]

VA Polytrauma Rehab Centers: On 25 SEP 07 the House Veterans' Affairs Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee held a hearing on the Department of Veterans' Affairs (VA) Polytrauma Rehabilitation Centers (PRCs) and their management issues. The hearing focused on VA Central Office’s oversight over the PRCs and specific management issues affecting the Palo Alto PRC. Polytrauma Rehabilitation Centers provide acute rehabilitative care to seriously injured service members. They are managed locally, but are part of a national program supervised by the Office of Patient Care Services in the Veterans Health Administration. The Committee found that PRCs were not using or had never heard of the Joint Patient Tracking Application and the Veteran Tracking Application systems. Critical medical information was being transferred through multiple phone calls, e-mails, faxes, and videoconferencing instead of using an electronic system. In addition, PRCs have not completed securing access to department facilities and computer network. Two PRCs were highlighted with specific issues. Visits to Palo Alto PRC by the VA’s Office of Medical Investigations and Congressional staffers found disarray, morale problems, insufficient programs for families, and a lack of leadership. This lack of staffing and resources has caused a history of empty beds. Data revealed Palo Alto on average has been filled only 60%, while the remaining PRCs combined have been operating at 98% of capacity. Palo Alto’s policy of not accepting minimally responsive brain injured patients resulted in a higher rejection rate. The VA has since forced Palo Alto to accept these patients. In addition to the inefficiencies at Palo Alto, the Minneapolis PRC was found to have an unusually high turnover rate of active duty military liaisons.
[Source: NMFA Government and You E-News 10 Oct 07 ++]

VA Clinic Indianapolis IN: The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will augment its health care to local veterans with a $9.9 million grant received 10 OCT from the Lilly Endowment Inc. The Indianapolis-based philanthropic foundation is providing the funds to the Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center to support a new clinic for injured service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and other projects, including a “comfort home” serving families of hospitalized service members while their loved ones undergo rehabilitation. The grant will provide $5.8 million for a 24,000-square-foot Seamless Transition Integrated Care Clinic where returning troops will receive comprehensive multidisciplinary health care. Another $3.5 million will be used to build a 28-suite comfort home that will provide accommodations for veterans’ families during extended periods of care. In addition, the endowment is funding retreats at which veterans and their spouses or loved ones can reunite and learn to work through readjustment issues typically associated with returning from deployment. Another $500,000 is designated for rehabilitation events, including the National Veterans Golden Age Games, which the Roudebush VA Medical Center will host in the summer of 2008. This senior adaptive rehabilitation program is designed to improve the quality of life for older veterans, including those with a wide range of abilities and disabilities. The Lilly Endowment was established in 1937 by members of the Lilly family as a vehicle to pursue their personal philanthropic interests. It is separate from the Eli Lilly and Co. pharmaceutical firm and is independently managed. [Source: VACO OPIA Report 10 Oct 07 ++]

VA VistA Update 01: A day-long system outage at a new Veterans Affairs Department data processing center in northern California on 31 AUG 07 crippled critical information systems used to manage patient care at VA hospitals and clinics scattered across more than a third of the world, according to details from an internal VA after-action report. The outage at the VA's Sacramento, Calif., regional center was the longest of 14 disruptions since that facility started hosting the suite of clinical applications that make up the Veterans Health Information System and Technology Architecture (VistA) earlier this year. According to internal briefings, the Sacramento facility was created as part of a move by the VA to shift VistA computer operations from 126 local sites to four regional centers. Since April, problems at the Sacramento center resulted in VistA downtime ranging from 15 minutes to the nine-hour outage on 31 AUG. That event knocked out vital information systems at hospitals and clinics operated by the Veterans Health Administration in Alaska, northern California, Los Angeles, Hawaii, Guam, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, west Texas, American Samoa, the Philippines and Washington state.

     The Sacramento failure first publicly surfaced at a hearing of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee on 19 SEP, when Robert Howard, the VA's assistant secretary for information and technology, acknowledged it in response to a question by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA). Howard characterized the outage as a big deal, but provided no details on its scope, scale or impact on patient care. But Dr. Ben Davoren, director of clinical informatics at the San Francisco VA Medical Center, told a hearing of the House Veterans Affairs Committee last week that the failure on 31 AUG was "the most significant technological threat to patient safety VA has ever had." Dr. Bryan Volpp, associate chief of staff for clinical informatics at the VA's Northern California Healthcare System, told the House that the 31 AUG outage all but sent VA hospitals and clinics in the western United States back to the paper age. The outage, Volpp testified, forced medical staff to shift from the use of electronic medical records to writing notes and summaries on paper. Outpatient surgery was delayed because clinicians could not access forms, and doctors could not access electronic records for patients with scheduled appointments. Patients discharged that day could not be scheduled for follow-up appointments electronically. Pharmacies at VA facilities connected to the Sacramento data center sputtered to a halt, Volpp said, because labeling and automatic dispensing equipment are controlled by VistA applications. Paper records from 31 AUG must be inputed into the electronic system by hand, Volpp said, a process that will take months.

     Both Volpp and Davoren testified that the outage hit 17 VA medical facilities. But more than one VA medical staffer told Government Executive that this figure understates the scope of the outage, because the 17 are in turn electronically linked to numerous clinics and outpatient facilities. A VA source in Hawaii said the Honolulu VA medical center's information systems were knocked out "because we use the Sacramento server, and Guam was knocked out because it goes through us." The San Francisco VA hospital, another source said, is electronically linked to multiple clinics in its area, as are hospitals and clinics in the region connected to the Sacramento data center. While top VA information technology managers have touted the establishment of regional data centers as a way to eliminate downtime, insure continuity of operations and improve disaster recovery, Davoren told the House hearing that the 31 AUG outage indicated to him that the regional model introduced a new single point of failure. He testified that in case of an outage, the Sacramento data center was supposed to "failover" to another regional center in Denver, but did not. The after-action report did not address why this switchover did not happen. Volpp testified that another backup system, a read-only backup of patient data, was unavailable on 31 AUG due to work by the Sacramento center to recreate accounts holding the data.

     The VA's plans to establish four regional data centers are part of an overall effort to centralize IT resources and personnel to help eliminate the computer security breaches that have plagued the VA over the past year. But Davoren told the House hearing that medical center employees expressed concerns as early as 2005 that "the regionalization of IT resources would create new points of failure that could not be controlled by the sites experiencing the impact, and that the system redundancy required to prevent this was never listed as a prerequisite to centralization of critical patient care IT resources." The VA did not immediately respond to queries from Government Executive about the outages in Sacramento or how it intends to remedy the situation. Howard, the VA IT director, told the Senate VA hearing on 19 SEP that the department intends to add "more robust backup capability" to help mitigate system downtime at the regional data centers. Howard added that his staff is examining whether or not there is something about the VistA software itself -- developed over years and hosted at the local medical facility level -- that does not lend itself to hosting at a regional data center. Until that process is completed, Howard said the VA will cease any further migration of VistA applications to regional data centers.
[Source: GOVExec.com Bob Brewin article 5 Oct 07 ++]

Check/Money Order Scams: Investigators led by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service have arrested 77 people as part of a global fraud crackdown that intercepted more than $2.1 billion in counterfeit checks bound for the United States. The eight-month investigation involved schemes in Nigeria, the Netherlands, England and Canada, and has stopped more than half a million fake checks from being mailed to American victims. International scammers have found U.S. consumers easy prey and are increasingly targeting them. "All fake check scams have the same common pattern: Scammers contact victims online or through the mail and send them checks or money orders. They then ask that some portion of the money be wired back to them," said Postmaster General John Potter. "The best thing our citizens can do to protect themselves is learn how to avoid these scams. The old adage still holds true: If someone offers you a deal that sounds too good to be true, it probably is." Susan Grant, vice president of the National Consumers League said, "Most Americans don't realize they are financially liable when they fall for these scams. There is no legitimate reason anyone would mail you a check or money order and then ask you to wire money in return. People need to know that checks can take months to clear, even if the money initially looks like it's in your account. The scammers know that, and most consumers don't." The six most popular scams are:

* Foreign Business Offers: Scammers pretend to be businesspeople or government officials and promise millions of dollars. But real companies and government agencies don't offer legitimate business propositions to people they don't know.
* Love Losses: The scammer poses as a romantic interest online, and promises to come to the U.S. to be with the victim. Soon after, the online friend asks the victim to cash a check or money order to cover "travel expenses."
* Overpayments: Scammers buy merchandise online, and then claim they mailed the wrong amount by mistake. The seller is asked to deposit the "wrong" check anyway, and then return the "excess" amount to the scammer. But the check doesn't clear, and the victim has sent the scammer his own money.
* Rental Schemes: Scammers claim to be moving to the area, and put down a rental deposit. Then they tell their landlord they have unexpected expenses, so they ask for some of their deposit back as a favor. They never move in, and the deposit check never clears.
* Sudden Riches: The scammer claims the victim has won a foreign lottery or sweepstakes. The notice comes by mail, phone, fax or email. Consumers should know that winners of real cash prizes are notified by certified mail. Also, keep in mind that you can't win a lottery you didn't enter.
* Work-at-Home: The scams promise easy money by "processing" checks. The victim deposits the checks and sends the money to the scammer, minus a small fee. Legitimate companies don't do business like this.

     If consumers believe they have been defrauded by a scam, the Postal Inspection Service wants to hear from them. These crimes can be reported by calling 1(800) 372-8347.  [Source: Consumer affairs article 4 Oct 07 ++]

Funeral Honors Update 03: As with the Military itself, our Armed Forces' final farewell to comrades is steeped in tradition and ceremony.

     1. Prominent in a military funeral is the flag-draped casket. The blue field of the flag is placed at the head of the casket, over the left shoulder of the deceased. The custom began in the Napoleonic Wars of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, when a flag was used to cover the dead as they were taken from the battlefield on a caisson.

    2. One will notice, during a military funeral that the horses that pull the caisson which bears the body of the veteran are all saddled, but the horses on the left have riders, while the horses on the right do not. This custom evolved from the days when horse-drawn caissons were the primary means of moving artillery ammunition and cannon, and the riderless horses carried provisions.

    3. The single riderless horse that follows the caisson with boots reversed in the stirrups is called the "caparisoned horse" in reference to its ornamental coverings, which have a detailed protocol all to themselves. By tradition in military funeral honors, a caparisoned horse follows the casket of an Army or Marine Corps officer who was a colonel or above, or the casket of a president, by virtue of having been the nation's military commander in chief. The custom is believed to date back to the time of Genghis Khan, when a horse was sacrificed to serve the fallen warrior in the next world. The caparisoned horse later came to symbolize a warrior who would ride no more. Abraham Lincoln, who was killed in 1865, was the first U.S. president to be honored with a caparisoned horse at his funeral.

    4. Graveside military honors include the firing of three volleys each by seven service members. This commonly is confused with an entirely separate honor, the 21-gun salute. But the number of individual gun firings in both honors evolved the same way.
     a. The three volleys came from an old battlefield custom. The two warring sides would cease hostilities to clear their dead from the battlefield, and the firing of three volleys meant that the dead had been properly cared for and the side was ready to resume the battle.
     b. The 21-gun salute traces its roots to the Anglo-Saxon empire, when seven guns constituted a recognized naval salute, as most naval vessels had seven guns. Because gunpowder in those days could be more easily stored on land than at sea, guns on land could fire three rounds for every one that could be fired by a ship at sea.
     c. Later, as gunpowder and storage methods improved, salutes at sea also began using 21 guns. The United States at first used one round for each state, attaining the 21-gun salute by 1818. The nation reduced its salute to 21 guns in 1841, and formally adopted the 21-gun salute at the suggestion of the British in 1875.

    5. A U.S. presidential death also involves other ceremonial gun salutes and military traditions. On the day after the death of the president, a former president or president-elect -- unless this day falls on a Sunday or holiday, in which case the honor will rendered the following day -- the commanders of Army installations with the necessary personnel and material traditionally order that one gun be fired every half hour, beginning at reveille and ending at retreat.

    6. On the day of burial, a 21-minute gun salute traditionally is fired starting at noon at all military installations with the necessary personnel and material. Guns will be fired at one-minute intervals. Also on the day of burial, those installations will fire a 50-gun salute -- one round for each state -- at five- second intervals immediately following lowering of the flag.

    7. The playing of "Ruffles and Flourishes" announces the arrival of a flag officer or other dignitary of honor. Drums play the ruffles, and bugles play the flourishes – one flourish for each star of the flag officer's rank or as appropriate for the honoree's position or title. Four flourishes is the highest honor.
When played for a president, "Ruffles and Flourishes" is followed by "Hail to the Chief," which is believed to have been written in England in 1810 or 1811 by James Sanderson for a play by Sir Walter Scott called "The Lady of the Lake." The play began to be performed in the United States in 1812, the song became popular, and it became a favorite of bands at festive events. It evolved to be used as a greeting for important visitors, and eventually for the president, though no record exists of when it was first put to that use.

    8. The bugle call "Taps" originated in the Civil War with the Army of the Potomac. Union Army Brig. Gen. Daniel Butterfield didn't like the bugle call that signaled soldiers in the camp to put out the lights and go to sleep, and worked out the melody of "Taps" with his brigade bugler, Pvt. Oliver Wilcox Norton. The call later came into another use as a figurative call to the sleep of death for soldiers. Another military honor dates back only to the 20th century. The missing-man formation usually is a four-aircraft formation with the No. 3 aircraft either missing or performing a pull-up maneuver and leaving the formation to signify a lost comrade in arms. While this can change slightly from service-to-service, and -- based on preferences of family members, below is the standard sequence of events for a military funeral at Arlington National Cemetery:

* The caisson or hearse arrives at grave site, everyone presents arms.
* Casket team secures the casket, NCOIC, OIC and chaplain salute.
* Chaplain leads the way to grave site, followed by casket team.
* Casket team sets down the casket and secures the flag.
* The NCOIC ensures the flag is stretched out and level, and centered over the casket.
* NCOIC backs away and the chaplain, military or civilian, will perform the service.
* At conclusion of interment service and before benediction, a gun salute is fired for those eligible ( i.e. general officers).
* Chaplain concludes his service and backs away, NCOIC steps up to the casket.
* The NCOIC presents arms to initiate the rifle volley.
* Rifle volley complete, bugler plays "Taps."
* Casket-team leader starts to fold the flag.
* Flag fold complete, and the flag is passed to the NCOIC, OIC.
* Casket team leaves grave site.
* NCOIC, OIC either presents the flag to the next of kin, or if there is a military chaplain on site he will present the flag to the chaplain, and then the chaplain will present to the next of kin.
* Arlington Lady presents card of condolences to the next of kin.
* The only person remaining at the grave is one soldier, the vigil. His mission is to watch over the body until it is interred into the ground.

[Source:  http://dva.state.wi.us/Ben_funeralhonors.asp  Jul 07 ++]

Arlington National Cemetery Update 01: The Nation's shrine to its military dead had 6,785 funerals in the just-concluded fiscal year, an all-time record. Now, as the dying of the World War II generation peaks, the cemetery is so busy that despite careful choreography, people attending one funeral can hear the bugle and rifle salutes echoing from another. As a result, the cemetery is about to begin a $35 million expansion that would push the ordered ranks of tombstones beyond its borders for the first time since the 1960s. The Millennium Project has been in the works for years as the cemetery has grown busier, dead from the Iraq war have been laid to rest with the veterans of wars past, and visitors have flocked to the see the Tomb of the Unknowns and the graves of such figures as President John F. Kennedy. Timing at Arlington has become critical. Some of the funerals can be fairly elaborate, with a band, a procession and a horse-drawn caisson, and can take up to 2 1/2 hours. Others might last only 35 or 40 minutes. All must be meticulously scheduled to minimize distractions and avoid traffic tie-ups on the cemetery roadways.

     The Millennium expansion has involved, among other things, the sensitive transfer of 12 acres within the cemetery from the National Park Service's historic Arlington House, the onetime home of Robert E. Lee. The Park Service has lamented the likely loss of woodland and the cemetery's encroachment on the majestic hilltop home, which dates to 1802. The project, which focuses on the northwest edge of the cemetery, includes expansion into about 10 acres taken from the Army's adjacent Fort Myer and four acres of cemetery maintenance property inside the boundaries, officials said. The extra space would provide room for 14,000 ground burials and 22,000 inurnments in a large columbarium complex, officials said. The project comes on the heels of extensive work underway to utilize 40 acres of unused space in the cemetery, creating room for 26,000 more graves and 5,000 inurnments. And there are plans for further outside expansion in the years ahead.

     The cemetery, established in 1864, covers more than 600 acres, and more than 300,000 people are buried there. The expansions are, in part, a response to the deaths of members of the country's World War II generation, about 16 million of whom served in the armed forces. The Department of Veterans Affairs says more than 3 million World War II veterans are alive. About 1,000 die each day. The department's National Cemetery Administration says the number of veteran deaths is peaking, at about 680,000 annually, and is expected to fall gradually to 671,000 in 2010, 622,000 in 2015 and 562,000 in 2020. At Arlington, which is run by the Army, the steady death toll from Iraq and Afghanistan has added to the numbers, although the cemetery gets only about 11% of those cases. More than 400 members of the armed forces who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan have been buried there.

     The initial work, to be contracted through the Army Corps of Engineers, would control drainage into the new sections. Katherine Basye Welton, cemetery project manager for the Corps of Engineers, said the first contracts were to be awarded by this month, but because of inadequate bids, the work might not be awarded until the end of the year. The project is expected to unfold over the next 10 years with funding hoped for from Congress. But it has not thrilled everyone. Although the transfer of the Arlington House land from the Park Service was decreed by law five years ago, it still rankles there. The parcel, which could lose many of its trees, has not been logged since the Civil War. The cemetery also plans to acquire the Navy Annex in 2010 and demolish it in 2013, and move underground utility lines within the next year or so, to gain more space. The projects should keep the cemetery open through about 2060. Meanwhile, the pace at Arlington remains brisk. The cemetery handles 25 to 30 funerals a day. Some, involving cremated remains, are scheduled for next year.
[Source: Washington Post Michael E. Ruane article 7 Oct 07++]

VA Facility Expansion Update 10: A unique health care facility combining the resources of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Defense (DoD) will be named in honor of local native, Navy veteran and astronaut James A. Lovell. The new VA-DoD Federal Health Care Facility, scheduled to open in 2010, will care for nearly 100,000 veterans, sailors, retirees and family members. The new facility will result from the merger of the North Chicago VA Medical Center and the Great Lakes Naval Hospital. This joint $130 million initiative marks the first totally integrated federal health care facility in the country. Jim Lovell, a Chicago native, naval aviation veteran of the Korean War and former astronaut, was command pilot of Apollo 8, the first Apollo mission to enter lunar orbit. He also commanded Apollo 13, which suffered an explosion enroute to the Moon and was brought back safely to Earth by the efforts of its crew and mission control. Lovell is a recipient of the Congressional Space Medal of Honor and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
[Source: VA News Release 5 Oct 07 ++]

Massachusetts DPL Data Breach: The Massachusetts Division of Professional Licensure (DPL) last month mailed out 28 computer disks containing publicly available information such as names and addresses of state licensees to 23 individuals who requested the public records. This week, it followed up those mailings by informing 450,000 individuals that their Social Security numbers were also inadvertently included in the public data contained on those 28 disks, which were mailed out between 13 and 17 SEP. The letter urged affected individuals to contact the major credit bureaus and place fraud alerts on their credit. The agency also assured them that there has been no indication yet that the exposed information was misused. The letter also noted that all of the disks but two have already been recovered from the individuals who got them. DPL Director George K. Weber said in a letter posted on the division's Web site that none of the individuals who received the disks has indicated that they were even aware the disks contained Social Security information. The Massachusetts DPL, is an agency within the state's Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation which regulates more than 40 trades and professions.

     According to a description of the incident on its site, the foul-up was the result of a programming error and the upgrading of computer hardware and software at the DPL. Several categories of licensed professionals were affected by the breach, including licensed nurses, health care professionals, certified public accountants, engineers and land surveyors. Such snafus are by no means uncommon. Earlier this year, the Chicago Board of Elections found itself facing charges that it failed to adequately protect the privacy of voters in the city after it inadvertently distributed more than 100 computer disks containing the Social Security numbers of more than 1.3 million voters to alderman and ward committee members. In FEB 06, the Boston Globe found itself having to apologize to about 240,000 subscribers after an attempt to recycle office paper ended up with the company labeling newspaper bundles with routing slips containing customer credit card information. That same month, a human error at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina allowed the Social Security numbers of more than 600 members to be printed on the mailing labels of envelopes sent to them with information about a new insurance plan. If you are concerned about your financial data being compromised it is recommended that you obtain insurance against identity theft. One such company which I use with very reasonable rates can be located at  http://www.lifelock.com
[Source: Computerworld Security Jaikumar Vijayan article 4 Oct 07 ++]

SBP Basics Update 02: A question raised by many older retirees is, "I've been paying into SBP for decades. The government has made a lot of money on me. Why can't I get some of that money back after all these years?" On the flip side, those nearing military retirement want to know "Is SBP really worth it? It seems awfully expensive - how much bang for my buck am I going to get?" Anyone who thinks the government is making money on SBP is way off-base. As shown in the premium vs. payment chart at  http://www.moaa.org/lac_issues_fully_retired_sbp.htm  for the years 1985 though 2006 the government has paid out more than twice as much in SBP benefits to survivors than it collects in retiree premiums. And that difference will continue to grow, since we recently won a benefit increase for survivors age 62 and older. For members retiring after 20 or more years of active duty, the government expects that the average retiree's lifetime SBP premiums will only cover about 60% of the average benefits that will be paid to the retiree's survivor. That means three things:

* Your SBP benefit is 40% subsidized by the government to help recognize the value of your service...(much different than the negative subsidy of civilian insurance, for which premiums must cover 100% of benefit costs, as well as company overhead, salaries, commissions, and profit).  
* Much like Social Security, every dollar you pay in SBP premiums goes toward paying part of the benefit for someone else’s survivor, just as other retirees' premiums will help fund your survivor's benefits in the event of your death.  
* Any civilian insurance that provides cash back if you don't die is going to cost you a lot bigger premium per death benefit dollar (and we don't know of any civilian insurance that provides a fully inflation-protected annuity like SBP does).

[Source: MOAA Leg Up 5 Oct 07 ++]

Tricare Reserve Select Update 08: Tricare outreach efforts are ensuring that nearly all of the 11,000 Tricare Reserve Select (TRS) members under the “tier” version of TRS will stay covered under the restructured program. As of 1 OCT approximately 90% had either switched over to the new program—or were in the process. The restructured TRS has also attracted interest from members of the Selected Reserves not previously covered under the tier program and nearly 10,000 have begun the process of qualifying for TRS. On 30 SEP, all current members in the tier program were disenrolled as the restructured TRS went into effect 1 OCT under changes mandated by the 2007 National Defense Authorization Act. Despite an instruction letter sent out in early August, less than half had transferred to the restructured program by mid-September. The few remaining Tier TRS members who still have not heard about the need to make the switch will not be left out in the cold. They have a 60-day window to qualify for the new program with coverage retroactive to 1 OCT under a new provision called continuation coverage.

     The number of new TRS members represents a moving target as it climbs daily. Already, the number of Selected Reservists purchasing coverage is nearly double the average number of members in the old TRS. With the end of the complicated tier program and its many qualifications, the majority of National Guard and Reserve members in the Selected Reserve are now eligible for TRS at a monthly premium of $81 for the Service member only and $253 for the Service member and their family. Coverage is comparable to Tricare Standard and Extra. The restructured TRS also features continuously open enrollment. National Guard and Reserve members must be in the Selected Reserve to be eligible for TRS. There is an important exclusion: Selected Reserve members cannot be eligible for Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB), or currently covered under FEHB (either under their own eligibility or through a family member). Members of the Selected Reserve can find out about TRS costs, what’s covered, and how to purchase coverage through the “My Benefit” portal at http://www.tricare.mil  Selected Reserve members who wish to see if they are qualified to purchase TRS coverage under the restructured program should go to the TRS Web application at  https://www.dmdc.osd.mil/appj/trs/  and follow the instructions. If qualified, the member can print out the TRS Request Form; attest that they are not eligible for or covered by an FEHB plan; then send the form with one month’s premium to the appropriate Tricare regional MCSC. National Guard and Reserve members may also contact their Reserve Component if they have additional questions about eligibility for TRS.
[Source: TMA News Release 5 Oct 07 ++]

Connecticut Vets Wartime Service Medal: All Connecticut veterans with qualifying wartime military service are eligible to receive the Connecticut Veterans Wartime Service Medal. Since last fall, the Connecticut State Department of Veteran's Affairs has hosted invitation-only ceremonies during which veterans of all wars receive the Medal. It is the first of its kind that the state has minted since the end of World War I. The 270,000 veterans who will receive it are Connecticut natives or current residents who served in a war and received honorable discharges. All living war veterans from World War II to the current war in Iraq are entitled to the medal. The medal can also be mailed to the veteran's home. In order to receive the medal, the veteran must meet all of the following requirements:

    1.  Submit documentary proof of qualifying military wartime service (90 days wartime service, unless the war or operation lasted less than 90 days); (i.e. DD Form 214 or other documentation if DD Form 214 is unavailable)

    2.  Submit proof of an honorable discharge from military service (or discharge due to injuries received in the line of duty) for the qualifying wartime service.

    3.  Submit proof that you currently are a resident of the State of Connecticut or that you were a resident at the time of your qualifying wartime service. (e.g., photocopy of State of Connecticut driver’s license).

    4.  Submit a Completed and signed application form (CTMD VM-1) available online at:
http://www.ct.gov/ctva/cwp/view.asp?a=1992&q=313194

     Awards will not be made posthumously. Send applications & supporting documentation to: Department of Veterans' Affairs, ATTN: Wartime Medal and Registry, 287 West Street, Rocky Hill, CT 06067 or Fax: (860) 721-5919.
[Source: Military.com 1 Oct article ++]

VA CWT & IT: The Department of Veterans Affairs Compensated Work Therapy (CWT), and Incentive Therapy (IT) programs are work therapy programs intended to help veterans receiving treatment at VA Hospitals to return to employment. Veterans who have participated in these programs and received payments from VA as part of their therapy may have had their payments reported to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), if they received over $600 in any year. The payments from these programs may have been treated as taxable income, based on IRS regulations in place at the time. The United States Tax Court has recently determined that the payments from these VA programs are not taxable because they are tax-exempt veterans’ benefits. Veterans who reported CWT or IT work therapy program payments as taxable income may be eligible to file amended tax returns claiming refunds of the tax they paid on program payments. Veterans who reported these payments as taxable income are advised to speak with a tax advisor regarding this matter.
[Source: Veterans Service Organizations Liaison, Office of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs notice 2 Oct 07 ++]

VDBC Update 23: A presidential commission has called for an immediate 25% increase in veterans’ disability compensation while awaiting a larger overhaul of disability and transition benefits. The Veterans’ Disability Benefits Commission (VDBC) says the current compensation system is outdated and fails to consider the complete impact that a service-connected disability has on the life of veterans and their families. The current system also is unnecessarily cumbersome to the point that it discourages veterans from getting the help they deserve, says the commission report, a copy of which was obtained 2 OCT by the Military Times. The 562-page report was released 3 OCT, although what happens next is unclear. Most of the recommendations, including the proposed 25% benefits boost, would require congressional action before they could take effect. With the Bush administration already balking at the $4 billion increase in veterans’ health care and benefits programs being pushed by Congress, it is unlikely that administration officials would support further increases. However, an overhaul of the veterans’ disability rating system, streamlined claims processing and an easier transition from military to veterans programs are all issues under consideration by Congress, and could end up included in the Wounded Warrior Assistance Act that lawmakers expect to pass later this year. An overhaul of the military’s complicated disability retirement and physical evaluation process is expected to be part of that bill.

     The report by the 13-member commission, led by retired Army Lt. Gen. James Scott, caps more than two years of work, including several precedent-setting studies of disabled veterans and their compensation that looked at their total income and compared military and veterans’ benefits to those received by disabled workers who never served in the military. In calling for an overhaul of the military and Department of Veterans Affairs rating systems, the commission said a revised system needs to be fair so that people who have experienced similar losses receive similar compensation. Veterans with mental disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder, are particularly poorly served by the current rating system, the report says. The VA ratings schedule that sets disability levels has not been changed in 62 years, and needs to be updated, the commission says, with top priority going to revising the ratings for PTSD, traumatic brain injury and other mental health and neurological body systems says. This could be done quickly, in time to help Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, while leaving a review of the rest of the ratings to roll out over five years.

     The commission comes down squarely on the side of veterans on several controversial issues. For example, it supports allowing disabled retirees to receive full veterans’ disability compensation and military retired pay when they are eligible for both, and to allow survivors to receive their full veterans’ and military survivors’ benefits. On both of those issues, the Pentagon has resisted efforts in Congress to allow both payments in full, although in recent years lawmakers have been phasing out the mandatory offsets in one pay or the other that had been on the books for decades. One recommendation that may not please veterans calls for periodic reviews of case in which disability pay is based, in part, on the fact that a veteran’s disability prohibits him or her from holding a job. When former VA Secretary R. James Nicholson made a similar recommendation several years ago, veterans went wild about the government trying to cut their payments. The commission calls for periodical and comprehensive evaluations of disabled veterans’ employability status, and a way to slowly wean veterans off benefits if it is possible for them to return to work at some point.
[Source: ArmyTime Rick Maze article 3 Oct 07 ++]

VDBC Update 22: The House Veterans' Affairs Committee likely will not consider until next year legislation to address the recommendations of two major commissions created to study veterans' health and disability issues. A commission chaired by former Sen. Bob Dole and former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala examined servicemembers' transition from military to civilian life and released its report in JUL 07, while the congressionally mandated Veterans' Disability Benefits Commission released its report 3 OCT. Committee Chairman Bob (D-CA) said that he plans to combine the recommendations of the two reports in a single piece of legislation that the panel likely would not mark up until next year. Retired Army Lt. Gen. James Terry Scott, chairman of the Veterans' Disability Benefits Commission, said that his commission and the Dole-Shalala commission have parted on some issues, which could prove a challenge in drafting legislation. However, Filner suggested that the commissions' findings would give a new secretary a window of opportunity to make major changes at VA.

     At the hearing Scott said, “A VA pilot program that would allow veterans to get benefits without having to prove their claim first, subject to random audits later for validity, might work if the new VA secretary works closely with Congress to ensure there are no unintended consequences. Such a proposal has been touted before by Harvard professor Linda Bilmes and more recently by former VA Secretary Jim Nicholson in his final days before leaving office." Separately, two major veterans groups expressed impatience with government delays in improving care for wounded troops. They called on President Bush to move quickly to nominate a new VA secretary who would finally make the needs of our nation's veterans a national priority. "This is no time for the president to fill such an important position with a placeholder for the remainder of his term," said David W. Gorman, an executive director of Disabled American Veterans. Testimony to Congress by Scott is the first among several commissions and task forces to weigh in on the issue of reducing intractable delays in veterans disability pay. In early OCT the 13-member commission issued a 544-page report on the ailing system that called the current 177-day wait unacceptable. It called for better technology, standardized procedures and additional staff to reduce the claims backlog to about 90 days within two years.

     Under questioning Scott acknowledged that more radical efforts might be needed. "The VA as an institution has been hit about the head and shoulders so much that trying something new is sometimes resisted because they're afraid they'll be left holding the bag," Scott told the House Veterans Affairs Committee. "I wouldn't object to a pilot program. The current system is so complicated, it's a wonder to me that anyone can get a claim processed." Scott said. The comments come as the Bush administration and Congress struggle to find clear answers to some of the worst problems afflicting wounded warriors more than seven months after disclosures of shoddy outpatient treatment at the Pentagon-run Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The Government Accountability Office earlier this month in particular cited Army problems in providing personalized medical care and the VA's backlogs in disability pay. Nicholson, who stepped down 1 OCT, has said his successor will have "think outside the box" to solve intractable delays in disability pay. Gordon Mansfield, the VA's deputy secretary, is serving as acting secretary pending a nomination of a successor by Bush. On 10 OCT the group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America aired a new television ad that chastises both Congress and the Bush administration for continuing problems in veterans care. [Source: AP Hope Yen and USA Today articles 11 Oct 07 ++]

Medicare Rates 2008: The Bush administration announced 1 OCT that the standard Medicare premium would rise to $96.40 a month next year, an increase of $2.90 a month. The 3.1% increase is the smallest since 1999-2000, when the premium was at the same level, $45.50, for two years in a row. Most of the 43 million beneficiaries pay the standard premium for Medicare Part B, which covers doctors’ services, outpatient hospital care, X-rays, laboratory services and other diagnostic tests. About 5% of beneficiaries, with annual incomes exceeding $82,000 for individuals and $164,000 for couples filing joint tax returns, will pay higher premiums on a sliding scale. The maximum will be $238.40 a month for the most affluent, individuals with annual incomes exceeding $205,000 and each member of a couple reporting combined income of more than $410,000. For an individual with annual income from $102,000 to $153,000, the premium will be $160.90 a month. Most beneficiaries pay separate premiums for Medicare coverage of prescription drugs on top of the standard premium. The drug premiums typically range from $25 to $40 a month.

     The increase in the standard Part B premium was less than many experts had expected, in part because officials decided to correct an accounting error. As a result of the error, money for certain hospice benefits was inadvertently drawn from the Part B trust fund rather than a separate trust fund that pays hospital costs. The money will be paid back in the coming year. In addition, the premium for 2008 is artificially low because it assumes that Medicare payments to doctors will be cut about 10% next year, as required by law. Congress has usually stepped in to avert such cuts, and the cost is passed on to beneficiaries in subsequent years. The chief Medicare actuary, Richard S. Foster, said, “The low increase in premiums is good news for 2008,” but added that it was probably a one-time phenomenon. The annual deductible for doctors’ visits and other Part B services will be $135, up from $131. The deductible was fixed at $100 a year from 1991 to 2004. It now increases to reflect the growing average cost of Part B services for beneficiaries 65 and older. For a beneficiary admitted to a hospital, the deductible will be $1,024 next year, up from $992. [Source: the New York Times Robert Pear article 2 Oct 07 ++]

NDAA 2008 Update 09: On 1 OCT the Senate finally passed their version of the National Defense Authorization Bill (H.R. 1585) by a vote of 92-3. The bill now moves to conference with the House to work out differences. The bill faces a possible veto by President Bush over an expansion of federal hate-crime laws, unrelated to national defense but stuck in regardless, if that provision makes it through the conference. Among the many amendments added to the bill are several items of imminent interest to retirees and their families. They include:

* The Lautenberg amendment to prohibit increases in TRICARE fees for FY2008 and to express the sense of the Senate that military service is unique and that military members have earned their benefit by virtue of their service and sacrifices.
* The Nelson amendment to eliminate the SBP/DIC offset and accelerate 30-year paid-up Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) coverage to 1 OCT 07.
* The Reid amendment providing full, immediate concurrent receipt to disabled retirees deemed “unemployable” by the VA retroactive to 1 JAN 05.
* An amendment by Sen. Lott concerning the Armed Forces Retirement Home. This amendment would prohibit “privatization” of the Home into a non-government charitable institution.
* The Chambliss amendment to reduce the Reserve retirement age by three months for each 90 days served on active duty since 11 NOV 01.
* The Lincoln amendment to authorize Guard or reserve members to use their mobilization GI Bill benefits up to 10 years after separating from the Selected Reserve.

     One NAUS supported provision that did not make the final bill as an amendment was the Clinton sponsored Postal Bill to provide vouchers for the families and loved ones of deployed troops in order to send free mail and packages to them. It is, however, in the House passed bill. Additionally the Wounded Warrior Act was reinserted into the NDAA. This legislation addresses the care and treatment of our wounded warriors. It would:

* Authorize $50 million for improvements in diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of service members who have Traumatic Brain Injury or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
* End the inconsistent ratings awarded for the same disabilities by DoD and the VA.
* Provide for seamless transition from DoD to VA care by requiring the Secretaries of the DoD and VA to develop a comprehensive plan
* Authorize medically retired (Chapter 61) with 50% disabilities and higher to receive active duty medical benefits for three years after leaving active service.
* Authorize VA and military health care providers to provide urgent and emergency medical care and counseling to family members.
* Extend eligibility for VA healthcare for combat veterans from two years to five years after discharge.
* Establish a joint DoD/VA program to develop and implement a joint electronic health record.
* Require Secretary of Defense to establish standards for housing for military outpatients and for military hospitals, clinics and specialty medical care facilities.
* Increase minimum severance pay to one year’s basic pay for those separated for disabilities incurred in a combat zone or combat related operations, and six months basic pay for all others.
* Eliminate that severance pay be deducted from disability compensation for disabilities incurred in a combat zone or combat-related operations.

     The Senate has appointed its conferees for H.R.1585, the FY 2008 National Defense Authorization Act. House conferees have not yet been announced. The conferees will meet to discuss differing provisions of the NDAA. The Senate conferees are as follows: Senators Levin; Kennedy; Byrd; Lieberman; Reed; Akaka; Nelson FL; Nelson NE; Bayh; Clinton; Pryor; Webb; McCaskill; McCain; Warner; Inhofe; Sessions; Collins; Chambliss; Graham; Dole; Cornyn; Thune; Martinez; and Corker. [Source: NAUS Special Update for 2 OCT 07 ++]

VA Polytrauma Care Update 01: The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced 28 SEP the Audie L. Murphy Memorial Veterans Hospital located in San Antonio, Texas will house the Nation’s newest Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center (PRC). This Center will provide intensive medical rehabilitation for seriously injured and wounded service members and veterans who suffer from Traumatic Brain Injuries, amputations, burns, blindness, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders. Care has been structured around teams of specialists. There are currently four VA PRCs in Minneapolis, MN; Richmond, VA; Tampa, FL; and Palo Alto, CA. The San Antonio project will consist of two stages. In the first, VA will construct an 84,000 square-foot, three-level building for rehabilitation, transitional living and prosthetics. This will be followed by renovation of 32,500 square feet of office and exam room spaces in the main medical center building at the VA’s medical center. The Center will eventually house one floor of polytrauma ward space (12 beds) and transitional housing (12 apartments); one floor of polytrauma rehabilitation and multi-purpose space; and one floor for physical medicine and prosthetics service. The cost of the entire project is estimated at $66 million. Construction is expected to begin next year.
[Source: VA News Release 28 Sep 07 ++]

Medicare Part D Update 16: Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) has introduced a bill - the Medicare Prescription Drug Gap Reduction Act of 2007 (S.2089) - to give the Secretary of Health and Human Services authority to negotiate prescription drug prices on behalf of Medicare beneficiaries. Currently, more than one-quarter of all Medicare Part D recipients are affected by a large gap in coverage, often referred to as the doughnut hole. After $2,400 in prescription expenses, seniors receive no prescription drug coverage but continue to pay premiums until they exceed $5,451 in expenses. Savings generated by prescription drug negotiation under S.2089 would be directed toward reducing this gap in coverage.
[Source: St. John’s DC Updates 2 Oct 07 ++]

Canadian National Military Cemetery: An expansion of the Canadian Forces National Military Cemetery (NMC) in Ottawa earlier this year allows veterans of British forces, along with those of France, the United States and Poland, to be buried alongside Canada's military casualties. Former members of allied merchant navies can also be laid to rest there. Eligibility criteria for internment in the NMC is:

* All former members of the Canadian Forces, both Regular and Reserve Force, including the Merchant Navy of Canada.
* Former members of Her Majesty’s Forces.
* Allied Active Service members (i.e. U.S. military veterans) who became residents of, and died while residing in Canada, and were honorably discharged.
* A family member or friend of the service member

     Allied Force members, or a member of their estate must provide documents demonstrating that the applicant was honorably released. Upon determination of eligibility, the applicant or their estate will coordinate burial arrangements directly with the staff of Beechwood Cemetery. Family members and/or funeral directors will facilitate burial arrangements directly with Beechwood Cemetery, once the NMC application has been approved. Burial and most associated costs will be borne by the military for serving members of the Regular Force and Reserve Class C Service and by the estate for veterans. Charges for burial and services are based on rates approved annually by the Ontario Ministry of Corporate and Consumer Relations. Beechwood offers pre-payment options so that those wishing to be buried at the NMC can take advantage of current prices. Plots will not be pre-selected nor will they be allocated on the basis of rank, service, regiment, or personal preference. Registration applications are available online at  http://www.forces.gc.ca/hr/nmc-cmn/engraph/coverpage_e.asp?docid=2 Applications should be forwarded to: Director Casualty Support and Administration 6, National Defense Headquarters
Major-General George R. Pearkes Building, 101 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa, ON, K1A 0K2.
[Source: VVA Post 75 Tom O’Malley article 1 Oct 07 ++]

Military Related Job Fairs Update 01: The Veteran Eagle is a newsletter for veterans, transitioning military, their family members, and friends and supporters of VetJobs. It provides informational assistance to users in finding the job that best meets their needs. Interested vets can review data that will enable them to find a job and/or subscribe to the newsletter at http://www.vetjobs.com The site also provides information to employers on the advantages of hiring vets. Following are the scheduled military related Job Fairs for 15 thru 31 OCT:

* TX, 10/16, NCOA Job Leader National Job Fair, Fort Hood Conference and Catering Center, Bldg. 5764, 24th and     Wainwright Streets, Fort Hood, 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM
* NY, 10/16, TECHEXPO Top Secret, Hilton New York, 1335 Avenue of the Americas, New York, 12pm to 6pm
* KY, 10/17, Fort Knox Job Fair, Leaders Club, 1118 Chaffee Avenue, Fort Knox, 10 AM to 3 PM
* SC, 10/17, Career Fair, Fort Jackson, 9 AM to Noon
* AZ, 10/18, Military Stars Western Regional Career Expo, Pointe South Mountain Resort, 7777 South Pointe Parkway,     Phoenix, Noon to 5 PM
* VA, 10/18, Corporate Gray Security Clearance Job Fair, Crystal City Embassy Suites Hotel, Arlington, 9 AM to 1:30 PM
* KY, 10/18, CivilianJobs.com Job Fair, visit  http://www.civilianjobs.com  for details.
* VA, 10/18, TECHEXPO Top Secret, Hyatt Regency Reston Town Center, 1800 Presidents Street, Reston, 10 AM to 4 PM
* TX, 10/21-22, Bradley-Morris, Inc. Hiring Conference for Transitioning Military, Dallas, visit 
    http://www.Bradley-Morris.com  for more information.
* CA, 10/21-22, Bradley-Morris, Inc. Hiring Conference for Transitioning Military, San Diego, visit 
    http://www.Bradley-Morris.com  for more information.
* PA, 10/21-22, Orion International Military Hiring Conference, Philadelphia, visit http://www.orioninternational.com
   for details.
* IL, 10/21-23, Orion International Military Hiring Conference, Chicago, visit http://www.orioninternational.com for details.
* MD, 10/23, TECHEXPO Top Secret, BWI Marriott, 1743 West Nursery Road, Baltimore, 10 AM to 4 PM.
* OH, 10/23-24, AFCEA InfoTech Career Fair, Dayton Convention Center, 322 East Fifth Street, Dayton, 11 AM to 4 PM.
* KS, 10/24, ACAP Job Fair, Frontier Conference Center (FCC) 350 Biddle BLVD, Fort Leavenworth, 10 AM to 2 PM.
* VA, 10/25, Cleared Job Fair, The Westin Tysons Corner, 7801 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, 11 AM to 4 PM.
* AZ, 10/25, Career Fair, The Windemere Hotel & Conference Center, 2047 South Highway 92, Sierra Vista, 1 PM to 5 PM.
* VA, 10/25, Military Job Fair of Virginia, Hampton Roads Convention Center 1610 Coliseum Drive, Hampton, 9 AM to
   3 PM.
* MO, 10/25, Mini Job Fair, Audie Murphy Club, Fort Leonard Wood, 9:30 AM to 2:30 PM.
* GA, 10/25, ACS Job Fair, The Commons, Bldg 650, Fort McPherson, 10 AM to 2 PM.
* GA, 10/25-26, Lucas Group Military Hiring Conference, Atlanta, visit  http://www.lucasgroup.com/services/military.asp 
   for more information.
* IL, 10/25-26, Lucas Group Military Hiring Conference, Chicago, visit  http://www.lucasgroup.com/services/military.asp 
   for more information.
* WA, 10/25-26, Lucas Group Military Hiring Conference, Seattle, visit  http://www.lucasgroup.com/services/military.asp 
   for more information.
* VA, 10/26, USO JETS, SOSA Community Center 9800 Belvoir Road, Bldg 200, Fort Belvoir, 10 AM to 2 PM.
* GA, 10/28-29, Bradley-Morris, Inc. Hiring Conference for Transitioning Military, Atlanta, visit 
    http://www.Bradley-Morris.com  for more information.
* GA, 10/29, MilitaryStars Southeast Regional Career Expo, Cobb Galleria Centre, Two Galleria Parkway, Atlanta, Noon to 5 PM.
* VA, 10/25-26, Lucas Group Military Hiring Conference, Norfolk, visit  http://www.lucasgroup.com/services/military.asp  
   for more information.
* NY, 10/30, National Veterans Job Expo, Rochester Museum & Science Center, 657 East Avenue, Rochester, 10 AM to
   2 PM.
[Source: VetJobs Veteran Eagle 1 Oct 07 ++]

Veteran Legislation Status 13 Oct 07:  For a listing of Congressional bills of interest to the veteran community that have been introduced in the 110th Congress refer to the Bulletin attachment. By clicking on the bill number indicated you can access the actual legislative language of the bill and see if your representative has signed on as a cosponsor. Support of these bills through cosponsorship by other legislators is critical if they are ever going to move through the legislative process for a floor vote to become law. A good indication on that likelihood is the number of cosponsors who have signed onto the bill. A cosponsor is a member of Congress who has joined one or more other members in his/her chamber (i.e. House or Senate) to sponsor a bill or amendment. The member who introduces the bill is considered the sponsor. Members subsequently signing on are called cosponsors. Any number of members may cosponsor a bill in the House or Senate. At http://thomas.loc.gov you can also review a copy of each bill, determine its current status, the committee it has been assigned to, and if your legislator is a sponsor or cosponsor of it. To determine what bills, amendments your representative has sponsored, cosponsored, or dropped sponsorship on refer to http://thomas.loc.gov/bss/d110/sponlst.html The key to increasing cosponsorship on veteran related bills is letting our representatives know of veteran’s feelings on issues. At the end of some listed bills is a web link that can be used to do that. Otherwise, you can locate on http://thomas.loc.gov who your representative is and his/her phone number, mailing address, or email/website to communicate with a message or letter of your own making.
[Source: RAO Bulletin Attachment 30 Sep 07 ++]

110th Congress U.S. House of Representatives:  Want to call or see you congressman regarding legislation that affects your benefits or well being?

Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives at: http://clerk.house.gov/about/index.html

Official Alphabetical List of House Members by State and District at: http://clerk.house.gov/member_info/olmbr.html

Official List of House Members by State and District at: http://clerk.house.gov/member_info/olm110.html  

Official House Member Telephone and Room Directory at: http://clerk.house.gov/member_info/mcapdir.html

     For complete contact info go to http://www.visi.com/juan/congress/index.html and fill in your home address to find your legislator’s political profile, committee membership, distinct office address along with maps on how to get there, email/web site, local and DC Fax numbers, personal bio, and names of their key office staff members. [Various: Jan 07 ++]

House Bills

United States House of Representatives website: http://www.house.gov/  
To contact Members of the House of Representatives go to: http://clerk.house.gov/member_info/index.html  

H.R.0023: Belated Thank You to the Merchant Mariners of World War II Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 46, United States Code, to provide benefits to certain individuals who served in the United States merchant marine (including the Army Transport Service and the Naval Transport Service) during World War II. Sponsor: Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] (introduced 1/4/07). Cosponsors (244). Status: Committee Hearings Held. Companion bill S.0961. Status: Ordered to be Reported (Amended) by Voice Vote.

H.R.0025: Fair Tax Act of 2007. A bill to promote freedom, fairness, and economic opportunity by repealing the income tax and other taxes, abolishing the Internal Revenue Service, and enacting a national sales tax to be administered primarily by the States. Sponsor: Rep Linder, John [GA-7] (introduced 1/4/07). Cosponsors (67). Companion Bill is S.0025. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

H.R.0067: Veterans Outreach Improvement Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the outreach activities of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep McIntyre, Mike [NC-7] (introduced 1/4/07). Cosponsors (32). Status: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.0081: Montgomery GI Bill Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide that members of the Armed Forces and Selected Reserve may transfer certain educational assistance benefits to dependents, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Bartlett, Roscoe G. [MD-6] (introduced 1/4/07) Cosponsors (3). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.0089: Combat-Related Special Compensation Act. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to extend eligibility for combat-related special compensation (CRSC) paid to certain uniformed services retirees who are retired under chapter 61 of such title with fewer than 20 years of creditable service. Sponsor: Rep Bilirakis, Gus M. [FL-9] (introduced 1/4/07). Cosponsors (40). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel. Companion bill S.986. To support this bill and/or contact your Representative refer to http://capwiz.com/moaa/issues/bills/?bill=9240191

H.R.0092: Veterans Timely Access to Health Care Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to establish standards of access (i.e. 30 days) to care for veterans seeking health care from the Department of Veterans Affairs, would allow referral to civilian care in cases where the standard is not met, would require the VA to annually report its performance in meeting those access standards, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Brown-Waite, Ginny [FL-5] (introduced 1/4/07). Cosponsors (8). Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held. To support this bill and/or contact your Representative refer to http://capwiz.com/moaa/issues/bills/?bill=9240456

H.R.0109: Disabled Veteran Small Business Eligibility Expansion Act of 2007. A bill to amend the Small Business Act to make service-disabled veterans eligible under the 8(a) business development program. Sponsor: Rep Davis, Jo Ann [VA-1] (introduced 1/4/07). Cosponsors (2). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Small Business.

H.R.0112: G.I. Advanced Education in Science and Technology Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for the payment of stipends to veterans who pursue doctoral degrees in science or technology. Sponsor: Rep Davis, Jo Ann [VA-1] (introduced 1/4/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

H.R.0136: Identity Theft Notification Act of 2007. A bill to amend title II of the Social Security Act to provide that individuals and appropriate authorities are notified by the Commissioner of Social Security of evidence of misuse of the Social Security account numbers of such individuals. Sponsor: Rep Gallegly, Elton [CA-24] (introduced 1/4/07). Cosponsors (8). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Social Security.

H.R.0140: A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to require the amounts reimbursed to institutional providers of health care services under the TRICARE program to be the same as amounts reimbursed under Medicare, and to require the Secretary of Defense to contract for health care services with at least one teaching hospital in urban areas. Sponsor: Rep Green, Gene [TX-29] (introduced 1/4/07). Cosponsors (12). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel. To support this bill and/or contact your Representative refer to
http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=9329026&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

H.R.0156: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for the payment of dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC) to the survivors of former prisoners of war (POWs) who died on or before 30 SEP 99, under the same eligibility conditions as apply to payment of DIC to the survivors of former prisoners of war who die after that date. Sponsor: Rep Holden, Tim [PA-17] (introduced 1/4/07). Cosponsors (31). Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held. To support this bill and/or contact your Representative refer to http://capwiz.com/moaa/issues/bills/?bill=9240856

H.R.0191: Senior Citizens Tax Elimination Act. A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal the inclusion in gross income of Social Security benefits. Sponsor: Rep Paul, Ron [TX-14] (introduced 1/4/07). Cosponsors (11). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

H.R.0207: Depleted Uranium Screening and Testing Act. A bill to provide for identification of members of the Armed Forces exposed during military service to depleted uranium, to provide for health testing of such members, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Serrano, Jose E. [NY-16] (introduced 1/4/07). Cosponsors (15). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.0243: Combat Military Medically Retired Veteran's Fairness Act. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to provide for the payment of Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) to members of the Armed Forces retired for disability with less than 20 years of active military service who were awarded the Purple Heart. Sponsor: Rep Weller, Jerry [IL-11] (introduced 1/5/07). Cosponsors (12). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.0303: Retired Pay Restoration Act. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to permit certain additional retired members of the Armed Forces who have a service-connected disability to receive both disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs for their disability and either retired pay by reason of their years of military service or Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) and to eliminate the phase-in period under current law with respect to such concurrent receipt. Sponsor: Rep Bilirakis, Gus M. [FL-9] (introduced 1/5/07). Cosponsors (149). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel. To support this bill and/or contact your Representative refer to http://capwiz.com/moaa/issues/bills/?bill=9240026

H.R.0315: Healthy Vets Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to enter into contracts with community health care providers to improve access to health care for veterans in highly rural areas, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Pearce, Stevan [NM-2] (introduced 1/5/07). Cosponsors (21). Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held. To support this bill and/or contact your Representative refer to
http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=9328981&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

H.R.0327: Veterans Suicide Prevention Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to develop and implement a comprehensive program designed to reduce the incidence of suicide among veterans. Sponsor: Rep Boswell, Leonard L. [IA-3] (introduced 1/9/07). Cosponsors (152). Passed/agreed to in Senate 9/27/07. Status: Passed Senate with an amendment by Unanimous Consent.

H.R.0333: Disabled Veterans Tax Termination Act. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to permit retired members of the Armed Forces who have a service-connected disability rated less than 50% to receive concurrent payment of both retired pay and veterans' disability compensation, to eliminate the phase-in period for concurrent receipt, to extend eligibility for concurrent receipt and combat-related special compensation to chapter 61 disability retirees with less than 20 years of service, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Marshall, Jim [GA-8] (introduced 1/9/07). Cosponsors (55). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.0339: Veterans Outpatient Care Access Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve access to medical services for veterans seeking treatment at Department of Veterans Affairs outpatient clinics with exceptionally long waiting periods. Sponsor: Rep Duncan, John J., Jr. [TN-2] (introduced 1/9/07). Cosponsors (2). Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

H.R.0343: Military Retiree Health Care Relief Act of 2007. A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow a refundable credit to military retirees for premiums paid for coverage under Medicare Part B. Sponsor: Rep Emerson, Jo Ann [MO-8] (introduced 1/9/07). Cosponsors (8). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health. To support this bill and/or contact your Representative refer to
http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=9329391&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

H.R.0402: Veterans' Disability Compensation Automatic COLA Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for annual cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) to be made automatically by law each year in the rates of disability compensation for veterans with service-connected disabilities and the rates of dependency and indemnity compensation for survivors of certain service-connected disabled veterans. Sponsor: Rep Knollenberg, Joe [MI-09] (introduced 1/11/07). Cosponsors (29). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs. To support this bill and/or contact your Representative refer to http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=9330146&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

H.R.0447: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide that World War II merchant mariners who were awarded the Mariners Medal shall be provided eligibility for DVA health care on the same basis as veterans who have been awarded the Purple Heart. Sponsor: Rep Fortenberry, Jeff [NE-1] (introduced 1/12/07). Cosponsors (1). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.0463: Honor Our Commitment to Veterans Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to terminate the administrative freeze on the enrollment into the health care system of the Department of Veterans Affairs of veterans in the lowest priority category for enrollment (referred to as "Priority 8"). Sponsor: Rep Rothman, Steven R. [NJ-09] (introduced 1/12/07). Cosponsors (44). Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

H.R.0538: South Texas Veterans Access to Care Act of 2007. To provide for the health care needs of veterans in far South Texas. Sponsor: Rep Ortiz, Solomon P. [TX-27] (introduced 1/17/07). Cosponsors (10). Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

H.R.0542: A bill to require the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide mental health services in languages other than English, as needed, for veterans with limited English proficiency, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Solis, Hilda L. [CA-32] (introduced 1/17/07). Cosponsors (24). Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

H.R.0551: Home Ownership for America's Veterans Act of 2007. A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 with respect to the eligibility of veterans for mortgage bond financing, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Davis, Susan A. [CA-53] (introduced 1/18/07). Cosponsors (68). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

H.R.0579: Military Retirees Health Care Protection Act. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to prohibit certain increases in fees (i.e. Tricare) for military health care. Sponsor: Rep Edwards, Chet [TX-17] (introduced 1/19/07). Cosponsors (180). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel. To support this bill and/or contact your Representative refer to http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=9284961&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id] or http://capwiz.com/trea/issues/alert/?alertid=9289751&queueid=1050771381

H.R.0585: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to expand the number of individuals qualifying for retroactive benefits from traumatic injury protection coverage under Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance. Sponsor: Rep Herseth, Stephanie [SD] (introduced 1/19/07). Cosponsors (3). Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

H.R.0612: Returning Servicemember VA Healthcare Insurance Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to extend the period of eligibility for health care for combat service in the Persian Gulf War or future hostilities from two years to five years after discharge or release. Sponsor: Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] (introduced 1/22/07). Cosponsors (20). Status: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.0634: American Veterans Disabled for Life Commemorative Coin Act. A bill to authorize the secretary of the Treasury to mint commemorative silver dollars that will be sold with a surcharge that will help the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial Foundation raise the money needed to construct the Disabled Veterans Memorial. Sponsor: Rep Moore, Dennis [KS-3] (introduced 1/23/07). Cosponsors 298. Passed/agreed to in House: On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 416 – 0. Status: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. To support this bill and/or contact your Senator refer to http://capwiz.com/military/issues/alert/?alertid=9802696

H.R.0649: Blind Veterans Fairness Act. A bill to amend title XVI of the Social Security Act to provide that annuities paid by States to blind veterans shall be disregarded in determining supplemental security income (SSI) benefits. Sponsor: Rep Reynolds, Thomas M. [NY-26] (introduced 1/24/07). Cosponsors (34). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

H.R.0650: A bill to provide for the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to conduct a pilot program to determine the effectiveness of contracting for the use of private memory care facilities for veterans with Alzheimer's Disease. Sponsor: Rep Reynolds, Thomas M. [NY-26] (introduced 1/24/07). Cosponsors (11).
Reynolds, Thomas M. [NY-26] (introduced 1/24/07). Cosponsors (12). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.0652: A bill to make the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass available at a discount to certain veterans. Sponsor: Rep Reynolds, Thomas M. [NY-26] (introduced 1/24/07). Cosponsors (34). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands.

H.R.0653: Combat Veteran Affidavit Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to allow the sworn affidavit of a veteran who served in combat during the Korean War or an earlier conflict to be accepted as proof of service-connection of a disease or injury alleged to have been incurred or aggravated by such service. Sponsor: Rep Reynolds, Thomas M. [NY-26] (introduced 1/24/07). Cosponsors (11). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.0657: Military Retiree Survivor Comfort Act. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to provide for forgiveness of certain overpayments of retired pay paid to deceased retired members of the Armed Forces following their death. Sponsor: Rep Jones, Walter B., Jr. [NC-3] (introduced 1/24/07). Cosponsors (38). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel. To support this bill and/or contact your Representative refer to
http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=9322811&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

H.R.674: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to repeal the provision of law requiring termination of the Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans as of December 31, 2009. Sponsor: Rep Gutierrez, Luis V. [IL-4] (introduced 1/24/07). Cosponsors (1). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.675: Disabled Veterans Adaptive Housing Improvement Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to increase the amount of assistance available to disabled veterans for specially adapted housing and to provide for annual increases in such amount. Sponsor: Rep Herseth, Stephanie [SD] (introduced 1/24/07). Cosponsors (2). Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

H.R.0690: A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to reduce the minimum age for receipt of military retired pay for non-regular service from 60 to 55. Sponsor: Rep Saxton, Jim [NJ-3] (introduced 1/24/07). Cosponsors (116). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.0704: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to reduce from age 57 to age 55 the age after which the remarriage of the surviving spouse of a deceased veteran shall not result in termination of dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC) otherwise payable to that surviving spouse.
Sponsor: Rep Bilirakis, Gus M. [FL-9] (introduced 1/29/07). Cosponsors (6). Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

H.R.0737: Forgotten Veteran's Retirement Compensation Act. A bill to correct an inequity in eligibility for military retired pay based on nonregular service in the case of certain members of the reserve components completing their reserve service before 1966. Sponsor: Rep Scott, Robert C. [VA-3] (introduced 1/30/07). Cosponsors (8). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.0760: Filipino Veterans Equity Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to deem certain service in the organized military forces of the Government of the Commonwealth of the Philippines and the Philippine Scouts to have been active service for purposes of benefits under programs administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Sponsor: Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] (introduced 1/31/07). Cosponsors (99). Companion bill S.0057. Status: Ordered to be Reported (Amended) by Voice Vote.

H.R.0784: A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to change the effective date for paid-up coverage under the military Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP). Sponsor: Rep Saxton, Jim [NJ-3] (introduced 1/31/07). Cosponsors (115). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel. To support this bill and/or contact your Representative refer to http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=9409496&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

H.R.0797: Veteran Vision Equity Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve compensation benefits for veterans in certain cases of impairment of vision involving both eyes, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Baldwin, Tammy [WI-2] (introduced 2/5/07). Cosponsors 64. Passed/agreed to in House: On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill 424 - 0 (Roll no. 175). Status: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.0959: Forgotten Military Widows Annuity Act of 2007. A bill to expand a Department of Defense survivor annuity program (SBP) that covers unremarried surviving spouses of certain members of the uniformed services who died before October 1, 1978, to include any otherwise eligible surviving spouse who remarries after age 55 or whose remarriage before age 55 is terminated. Sponsor: Rep Saxton, Jim [NJ-3] (introduced 2/8/07). Cosponsors (none). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.0991: A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow individuals eligible for veterans health benefits to contribute to health savings accounts. Sponsor: Rep Campbell, John [CA-48] (introduced 2/12/07). Cosponsors (1). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

H.R.1041: Veterans Health Care Full Funding Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide an enhanced funding process to ensure an adequate level of funding for veterans health care programs of the Department of Veterans Affairs, to establish standards of access to care for veterans seeking health care from the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Smith, Christopher H. [NJ-4] (introduced 2/14/07). Cosponsors (6). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.1086: Strengthening America's Military Families Act of 2007. A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to exclude from gross income the earned income of a spouse of a member of the Armed Forces of the United States serving in a combat zone. Sponsor: Rep Garrett, Scott [NJ-5] (introduced 2/15/07). Cosponsors (6). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

H.R.1110: A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow Federal civilian and military retirees to pay health insurance premiums on a pretax basis and to allow a deduction for TRICARE supplemental premiums. Sponsor: Rep Davis, Tom [VA-11] (introduced 2/16/07). Cosponsors (272). Companion bill to S.773. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, Post Office, and the District of Columbia. To support this bill and/or contact your Representative refer to http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=9408301&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

H.R.1115: A bill to amend section 1477 of title 10, United States Code, to provide additional options regarding the designation of the person to receive the death gratuity paid with respect to a member of the Armed Forces who dies without a surviving spouse, but who is survived by a minor child. Sponsor: Rep Latham, Tom [IA-4] (introduced 2/16/07). Cosponsors (30). Companion Bill is S.659. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel. To support this bill and/or contact your Representative refer to http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=9423396&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

H.R.1197: Prisoner of War Benefits Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide improved benefits for veterans who are former prisoners of war. Sponsor: Rep Bilirakis, Gus M. [FL-9] (introduced 2/27/07). Cosponsors (5). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.1211: Resuming Education After Defense Service Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide entitlement to educational assistance under the Montgomery GI Bill for members of the Selected Reserve who aggregate more than two years of active duty service in any five year period, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Matheson, Jim [UT-2] (introduced 2/27/07). Cosponsors (69). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.1214: Veterans' Survivors Education Enhancement Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to expand and enhance educational assistance for survivors and dependents of veterans. Sponsor: Rep Ramstad, Jim [MN-3] (introduced 2/27/07). Cosponsors (3). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.1222: Keep Our Promise to America’s Military Retirees Act. A bill to restore health care coverage to retired members of the uniformed services, and for other purposes. This measure would fulfill the promises made to young recruits that quality health care would be available to them when they retired after a career in uniformed service to our country. It would also allow military retirees to opt out of the Tricare military health system and enroll in the Federal Employees Health Benefit (FEHB) plan if Tricare does not provide them adequate health care. Sponsor: Rep Van Hollen, Chris [MD-8] (introduced 2/28/07). Cosponsors (98). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.1223: Keeping Faith with the Greatest Generation Military Retirees Act. A bill to amend part B of title XVIII of the Social Security Act to waive Medicare part B premiums for certain military retirees. Sponsor: Rep Van Hollen, Chris [MD-8] (introduced 2/28/07). Cosponsors (84). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

H.R.1226: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to expand eligibility for the basic educational assistance program of the DVA. Sponsor: Rep Johnson, Timothy V. [IL-15] (introduced 2/28/07). Cosponsors (2). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.1265: Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Equity Act of 2007. A bill to amend the Small Business Act to authorize the Administrator of the Small Business Administration to award contracts to small business concerns owned and controlled by service-disabled veterans under the section 8(a) program. Sponsor: Rep Buyer, Steve [IN-4] (introduced 3/1/07). Cosponsors (2). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Small Business.

H.R.1268: Dignity for Wounded Warriors Act. A bill to ensure dignity in care for members of the Armed Forces recovering from injuries. Sponsor: Rep Mitchell, Harry E. [AZ-5] (introduced 3/1/07). Cosponsors (36). Companion Bill is S.713. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.1272: Veterans' Pension Improvement Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the pension program of the DVA. Sponsor: Rep Berkley, Shelley [NV-1] (introduced 3/1/07). Cosponsors (8). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.1273: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to restore plot allowance eligibility for veterans of any war and to restore the headstone or marker allowance for eligible persons. Sponsor: Rep Berkley, Shelley [NV-1] (introduced 3/1/07). Cosponsors (3). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.1284: Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2007. A bill to increase, effective as of December 1, 2007, the rates of compensation for veterans with service-connected disabilities and the rates of dependency and indemnity compensation for the survivors of certain disabled veterans. Sponsor: Rep Hall, John J. [NY-19] (introduced 3/1/07). Cosponsors (14). Related bill S.423. Status: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.1315: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide specially adaptive housing assistance to certain disabled members of the Armed Forces residing temporarily in housing owned by a family member. Sponsor: Rep Herseth, Stephanie [SD] (introduced 3/5/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held. 7/27/2007 Placed on the Union Calendar, Calendar No. 168.

H.R.1318: Veterans' Benefits Protection Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to repeal the authority for agent or attorney representation in veterans benefits cases before the Department of Veterans Affairs. Sponsor: Rep Lewis, Ron [KY-2] (introduced 3/5/07). Cosponsors (2). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.1330: A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to extend the time limit for the use of education assistance by members of the Selected Reserve and members of the reserve component supporting contingency operations and certain other operations. Sponsor: Rep Carney, Christopher P. [PA-10] (introduced 3/6/07). Cosponsors (41). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.1354: Veterans Health and Benefits Improvement Act of 2007. A bill to amend titles 10 and 38, United States Code, to improve benefits and services for members of the Armed Forces, veterans of the Global War on Terrorism, and other veterans, to require reports on the effects of the Global War on Terrorism, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Moran, James P. [VA-8] (introduced 3/6/07). Cosponsors (54). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.1418: Reauthorization of the Traumatic Brain Injury Act. A bill to provide for the expansion and improvement of traumatic brain injury programs. Sponsor: Rep Pascrell, Bill, Jr. [NJ-8] (introduced 3/8/07). Cosponsors (36). Companion bill to S.793. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

H.R.1426: Veterans' Access to Local Health Care Options and Resources Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide veterans enrolled in the health system of the DVA the option of receiving covered health services through facilities other than those of the Department. Sponsor: Rep Latham, Tom [IA-4] (introduced 3/9/07). Cosponsors (11). Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held. Companion bill to S.815. To support this bill and/or contact your Representative refer to http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=9697361&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

H.R.1428: National Guard and Reserve Retirement Modernization Act. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to reduce the eligibility age for receipt of non-regular military service retired pay for members of the Ready Reserve in active federal status or on active duty for significant periods. Sponsor: Rep Latham, Tom [IA-4] (introduced 3/9/07). Cosponsors (30). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.1435: Department of Veterans Affairs Claims Backlog Reduction Act of 2007. A bill to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to conduct a pilot program to reduce the backlog of claims for benefits pending with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Sponsor: Rep Baca, Joe [CA-43] (introduced 3/9/07). Cosponsors (16). Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

H.R.1436: Retired Pay Restoration Act. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to permit certain retired members of the uniformed services who have a service-connected disability to receive both disability compensation from the DVA for their disability and either retired pay by reason of their years of military service or Combat-Related Special Compensation. It would eliminate the phase-in period for retirees who are paid at the 100%-disabled rate due to individual unemployability (IU). It also would extend concurrent receipt (CRDP)to otherwise-qualified disabled retirees with disabilities rated less than 50%. Sponsor: Rep Bilirakis, Gus M. [FL-9] (introduced 3/9/07). Cosponsors (5). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.1444: A bill to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to make interim benefit payments under certain remanded claims, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Hall, John J. [NY-19] (introduced 3/9/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

H.R.1470: Chiropractic Care Available to All Veterans Act. A bill to amend the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care Programs Enhancement Act of 2001 to require the provision of chiropractic care and services to veterans at all Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers. Sponsor: Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] (introduced 3/12/07). Cosponsors (16). Related bills H.R.1471 & H.R.1554. Status: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs. To support this bill and/or contact your Senator refer to
http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=9814161&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

H.R.1471: BACK Veterans Health Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to permit eligible veterans to receive direct access to chiropractic care. Sponsor: Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] (introduced 3/12/07). Cosponsors (3). Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

H.R.1477: Disabled Veterans Commissary and Exchange Store Benefits Act. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to extend military commissary and exchange store privileges to veterans with a compensable service-connected disability and to their dependents. Sponsor: Rep Fortenberry, Jeff [NE-1] (introduced 3/12/07). Cosponsors (1). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.1490: A bill to provide for a presumption of service-connectedness for certain claims for benefits under the laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Donnelly, Joe [IN-2] (by request) (introduced 3/13/07). Cosponsors (19). Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

H.R.1521: Universal Health Act of 2007: Repeal of the Late Enrollment Penalty in Medicare Part D. A bill to amend part D of title XVIII of the Social Security Act to remove the Medicare prescription drug benefit late enrollment penalty. Sponsor: Rep Kagen, Steve, M.D. [WI-8] (introduced 3/14/07). Cosponsors (24). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

H.R.1527: Rural Veterans Access to Care Act . A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to allow highly rural veterans enrolled in the health system of the Department of Veterans Affairs to receive covered health services through providers other than those of the Department, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Moran, Jerry [KS-1] (introduced 3/14/07). Cosponsors (11). Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

H.R.1536: Prescription Coverage Now Act of 2007. A bill to amend part D of title XVIII of the Social Security Act to assist low-income individuals in obtaining subsidized prescription drug coverage under the Medicare prescription drug program by expediting the application and qualification process and by revising the resource standards used to determine eligibility for such subsidies, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep Doggett, Lloyd [TX-25] (introduced 3/15/07). Cosponsors (170). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

H.R.1538: Wounded Warrior Assistance Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to improve the management of medical care, personnel actions, and quality of life issues for members of the Armed Forces who are receiving medical care in an outpatient status, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Skelton, Ike [MO-4] (introduced 3/15/07). Cosponsors (28). Related bill S.1283. Status: Passed Senate with an amendment by Unanimous Consent. To support this bill and/or contact your Senator refer to http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=9600206&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

H.R.1552: Medicare Patient Access to Physical Therapists Act of 2007. A bill to amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to authorize physical therapists to evaluate and treat Medicare beneficiaries without a requirement for a physician referral, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Pomeroy, Earl [ND] (introduced 3/15/07). Cosponsors (111). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

H.R.1554: Chiropractic Health Parity for Military Beneficiaries Act. A bill to require the Secretary of Defense to develop and implement a plan to provide chiropractic health care services and benefits for certain new beneficiaries as part of the TRICARE program. Sponsor: Rep Rogers, Mike D. [AL-3] (introduced 3/15/07). Cosponsors (9). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.1570: Bataan Death March Compensation Act. A bill to provide compensation for certain World War II veterans who survived the Bataan Death March and were held as prisoners of war by the Japanese. Sponsor: Rep Mica, John L. [FL-7] (introduced 3/19/07). Cosponsors (3).

H.R.1589: Military Surviving Spouses Equity Act . A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to repeal the offset from surviving spouse annuities under the military Survivor Benefit Plan for amounts paid by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs as dependency and indemnity compensation, to repeal the optional annuity authority for the dependent children of a member when there is an eligible surviving spouse, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Brown, Henry E., Jr. [SC-1] (introduced 3/20/07). Cosponsors (76). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel. To support this bill and/or contact your Representative refer to http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=9550256&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

H.R.1660: A bill to direct the VA Secretary to establish a national cemetery for veterans in the southern Colorado region. Sponsor: Rep Salazar, John T. [CO-3] (introduced 3/22/07). Cosponsors (8). Status: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.1710: A bill to modify the calculation of back pay for persons who were approved for promotion as members of the Navy and Marine Corps while interned as prisoners of war during World War II to take into account changes in the Consumer Price Index. Sponsor: Rep Hooley, Darlene [OR-5] (introduced 3/27/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.1732: A bill to provide alternative retired pay rates under title 10, United States Code, and alternative disability compensation rates under title 38, United States Code, for members of the Armed Forces with a combat-related disability, with such rates based on the average monthly salary for high school graduates in the U.S., and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Bartlett, Roscoe G. [MD-6] (introduced 3/28/07). Cosponsors (29). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.1745: Uniting America's Military Families Act of 2007. A bill to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to waive inadmissibility based on a misrepresentation in the case of an immediate relative of an active duty or reserve member of the Armed Forces and to extend the V nonimmigrant visa program for spouses and children of such a member. Sponsor: Rep Ortiz, Solomon P. [TX-27] (introduced 3/28/07). Cosponsors (19). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law.

H.R.1750: A bill to amend the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act to extend from 90 days to one year the period after release of a member of the Armed Forces from active duty during which the member is protected from mortgage foreclosure under that Act. Sponsor: Rep Wynn, Albert Russell [MD-4] (introduced 3/28/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

H.R.1863: A bill to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to conduct at two-year pilot program to use a mobile processing unit to perform certain services of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Sponsor: Rep Lamborn, Doug [CO-5] (introduced 4/17/07). Cosponsors (1). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.1864: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to provide for the automated processing of veterans disability compensation claims. Sponsor: Rep Lamborn, Doug [CO-5] (introduced 4/17/07). Cosponsors (1). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.1900: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to extend eligibility for pension benefits under laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to veterans who received an expeditionary medal during a period of military service other than a period of war. Sponsor: Rep Rahall, Nick J., II [WV-3] (introduced 4/17/07). Cosponsors (1). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.1901: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to extend eligibility for pension benefits under laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to veterans who served during certain periods of time in specified locations. Sponsor: Rep Rahall, Nick J., II [WV-3] (introduced 4/17/07). Cosponsors (1). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.1912: Medicare Hearing Enhancement and Auditory Rehabilitation (HEAR) Act of 2007. A bill to amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to cover hearing aids and auditory rehabilitation services under the Medicare Program. Sponsor: Rep Bilirakis, Gus M. [FL-9] (introduced 4/18/07). Cosponsors (3). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

H.R.1925: A bill to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a separate Veterans Integrated Service Network for the Gulf Coast region of the United States. Sponsor: Rep Miller, Jeff [FL-1] (introduced 4/18/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

H.R.1927: The Military Retiree Survivor Equity Act. A bill to repeal the requirement for reduction of survivor annuities under the Survivor Benefit Plan by veterans dependency and indemnity compensation, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Ortiz, Solomon P. [TX-27] (introduced 4/18/07). Cosponsors (73). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel. Companion Bill is S.0935. To support this bill and/or contact your Representative refer to
http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=9660956&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

H.R.1944: Veterans Traumatic Brain Injury Treatment Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to screen certain veterans for symptoms of traumatic brain injury, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Altmire, Jason [PA-4] (introduced 4/19/07). Cosponsors (69). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.1953: Consumer Price Index for Elderly Consumers Act. A bill to require the establishment of a Consumer Price Index for Elderly Consumers to compute cost-of-living increases for Social Security benefits under title II of the Social Security Act. Sponsor: Rep Gonzalez, Charles A. [TX-20] (introduced 4/19/07). Cosponsors (5). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Healthy Families and Communities.

H.R.1960: A Home for the Brave Act. A bill to amend the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 to allow community reinvestment credit for investments and other financial support to enable veterans to purchase residential homes or to assist organizations with the establishment of housing opportunities and assisted living facilities for veterans. Sponsor: Rep Lynch, Stephen F. [MA-9] (introduced 4/19/07). Cosponsors (13). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services.

H.R.1969: Montgomery G.I. Bill Improvement Act of 2007. A bill to exempt from payment of individual contributions under the Montgomery GI Bill enlisted members of the Armed Forces in pay grade E-5 or below and to provide an opportunity for members of the Armed Forces serving on active duty to withdraw an election not to enroll in education benefits under the Montgomery GI Bill. Sponsor: Rep Terry, Lee [NE-2] (introduced 4/19/07). Cosponsors (4). Status: Referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, and in addition to the Committee on Armed Services, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

H.R.2005: Rural Veterans Health Care Improvement Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve health care for veterans who live in rural areas, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Salazar, John T. [CO-3] (introduced 4/23/07). Cosponsors (47). Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

H.R.2026: Disabled Veterans Insurance Act of 2007. A bill to amend section 1922A of title 38, United States Code, to increase the amount of supplemental insurance available for totally disabled veterans. Sponsor: Rep Jones, Walter B., Jr. [NC-3] (introduced 4/25/07). Cosponsors (1). Companion bill S.1315. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.2027: Military Pay Improvement Act of 2007. A bill to provide an additional 0.5 percent increase in the rates of military basic pay for members of the uniformed services above the pay increase proposed by the Department of Defense so as to ensure at least a minimum pay increase of 3.5 percent for members and to further narrow the "pay gap" that exists between the military and private sector pay scales. Sponsor: Rep Bilirakis, Gus M. [FL-9] (introduced 4/25/07). Cosponsors (10). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.2044: Cadet and Midshipman Disability Fairness Act. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to extend eligibility for disability retired pay and separation pay to former cadets and midshipmen with prior enlisted service who incurred physical disabilities after January 1, 2000. Sponsor: Rep Stupak, Bart [MI-1] (introduced 4/25/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.2048: Traumatic Brain Injury Access to Options Act. A bill to facilitate the provision of care and services for members of the Armed Forces for traumatic brain injury, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Donnelly, Joe [IN-2] (introduced 4/26/07). Cosponsors (8). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.2059: A bill to amend title 32, United States Code, to provide members of the National Guard additional time to transition to civilian life when they return from active duty in support of contingency operations or homeland defense missions. Sponsor: Rep Hooley, Darlene [OR-5] (introduced 4/26/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.2064: Compassionate Care for Servicewomen Act. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to require emergency contraception to be available at all military health care treatment facilities. Sponsor: Rep Michaud, Michael H. [ME-2] (introduced 4/26/07). Cosponsors (54). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.2179: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish traumatic brain injury centers. Sponsor: Rep Walz, Timothy J. [MN-1] (introduced 5/3/07). Cosponsors (1). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.2189: Military Health Services Improvement Act of 2007. A bill to require pre-and post-deployment mental health screenings for members of the Armed Forces, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep DeLauro, Rosa L. [CT-3] (introduced 5/7/07). Cosponsors (41). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.2190: Advisory Committee on Rural Veterans Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish the Advisory Committee on Rural Veterans. Sponsor: Rep Donnelly, Joe [IN-2] (introduced 5/7/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.2192: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to establish an Ombudsman within the Department of Veterans Affairs. Sponsor: Rep Hodes, Paul W. [NH-2] (introduced 5/7/07). Cosponsors (40). Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

H.R.2195: A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to expand the education loan repayment program for members of the Selected Reserve. Sponsor: Rep Murphy, Patrick J. [PA-8] (introduced 5/7/07). Cosponsors (1). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.2219: Veterans Suicide Prevention Hotline Act of 2007. A bill to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to award a grant to a private, nonprofit entity to establish, publicize, and operate a national toll-free suicide prevention telephone hotline targeted to and staffed by veterans of the Armed Forces. Sponsor: Rep Moran, James P. [VA-8] (introduced 5/8/07). Cosponsors (26). Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

H.R.2226: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out a pilot program to provide readjustment counseling and related mental health services to veterans through the use of mobile centers. Sponsor: Rep Welch, Peter [VT] (introduced 5/8/07). Cosponsors (1). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.2239: Early Access to Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Benefits Act . A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to expand eligibility for vocational rehabilitation benefits administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Sponsor: Rep Boozman, John [AR-3] (introduced 5/9/07). Cosponsors (5). Status: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.2247: Montgomery GI Bill for Life Act of 2007. A bill to amend titles 10 and 38, United States Code, to repeal the 10-year limit on use of Montgomery GI Bill educational assistance benefits, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Larsen, Rick [WA-2] (introduced 5/9/07). Cosponsors (12). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.2257: A bill to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to increase the number of benefits claims representatives employed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, and to ensure that there are not fewer than two such claims representatives located at each center for the provision of readjustment counseling and related mental health services established under section 1712A of title 38, United States Code (commonly referred to as a "vet center"), to help reduce the backlog of claims pending with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Sponsor: Rep Welch, Peter [VT] (introduced 5/9/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.2259: A bill to ensure that members of the National Guard and Reserves are able to fully participate in the benefits delivery at discharge program administered jointly by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to provide information and assistance on available benefits and other transition assistance to members of the Armed Forces who are separating from the Armed Forces. Sponsor: Rep Welch, Peter [VT] (introduced 5/9/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.2267: A bill to expand retroactive eligibility of the Army Combat Action Badge to include members of the Army who participated in combat during which they personally engaged, or were personally engaged by, the enemy at any time on or after December 7, 1941. Sponsor: Rep Brown-Waite, Ginny [FL-5] (introduced 5/10/07). Cosponsors (4). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.2292 : Pay Veterans First Act. A bill to prohibit the payment of bonuses to certain officers of the Department of Veterans Affairs unless fewer than 100,000 disability compensation claims are pending before the Department. Sponsor: Rep Hall, John J. [NY-19] (introduced 5/14/07). Cosponsors (19). Status: Referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, and in addition to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

H.R.2319: TRICARE Mail-Order Pharmacy Pilot Program Act. A bill to establish a Mail-Order Pharmacy Pilot Program. Sponsor: Rep Bilirakis, Gus M. [FL-9] (introduced 5/15/07). Cosponsors (2). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.2330: VETS Act of 2007. A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow employers a credit against income tax for hiring veterans. Sponsor: Rep McCotter, Thaddeus G. [MI-11] (introduced 5/15/07). Cosponsors (13). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

H.R.2346: A bill to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a process for determining whether a geographic area is sufficiently served by the national cemeteries located in that geographic area. Sponsor: Rep Fossella, Vito [NY-13] (introduced 5/16/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.2355: Reservists and Guardsmen Tax Relief Act of 2007. A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to extend the authority for penalty-free withdrawals from retirement plans by military reservists or national guardsmen called to active duty for extended periods. Sponsor: Rep Weldon, Dave [FL-15] (introduced 5/16/2007). Cosponsors (None). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

H.R.2378: Services to Prevent Veterans Homelessness Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to establish a financial assistance program to facilitate the provision of supportive services for very low-income veteran families in permanent housing, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Herseth Sandlin, Stephanie [SD] (introduced 5/17/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.2385: 21st Century GI Bill of Rights Act of 2007. A bill to provide and enhance education, housing, and entrepreneur assistance for veterans who serve in the Armed Forces after September 11, 2001, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Murphy, Patrick J. [PA-8] (introduced 5/17/07). Cosponsors (3). Companion bill S.1401. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.2417: Montgomery GI Bill Second Chance Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, and title 10, United States Code, to provide for an opportunity for active duty personnel to withdraw an election not to participate in the program of educational assistance under the Montgomery GI Bill. Sponsor: Rep Visclosky, Peter J. [IN-1] (introduced 5/21/07). Cosponsors (51). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.2434: Veterans Right to Know Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to provide regular notice to individuals submitting claims for benefits administered by the Secretary on the status of such claims. Sponsor: Rep Drake, Thelma D. [VA-2] (introduced 5/22/07). Cosponsors (5). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.2475: Veteran Home Equity Conversation Mortgage Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to guarantee home equity conversion mortgages for elderly veteran homeowners. Sponsor: Rep Michaud, Michael H. [ME-2] (introduced 5/24/07). Cosponsors (2). Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

H.R.2495: Disabled Veterans Commissary and Exchange Store Benefits Act. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to extend military commissary and exchange store privileges to veterans with a compensable service-connected disability and to their dependents. Sponsor: Rep Burton, Dan [IN-5] (introduced 5/24/2007). Cosponsors (17). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.To support this bill and/or contact your Representative refer to
http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=9899926&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

H.R.2514: Assured Funding for Veterans Health Care Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for an assured adequate level of funding for veterans health care. Sponsor: Rep Hare, Phil [IL-17] (introduced 5/24/07). Cosponsors (87). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.2540: Honoring Existing Retirement Obligations for Every Servicemember Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United State Code to provide for the treatment of period of service in uniformed services as continued employment for purposes of pension and retirement benefits for individuals who die during the period of service. Sponsor: Rep Pomeroy, Earl [ND] (introduced 5/24/07). Cosponsors (1). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.2551: A bill to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a national cemetery in Sarpy County, Nebraska, to serve veterans in eastern Nebraska and western Iowa. Sponsor: Rep Terry, Lee [NE-2] (introduced 5/24/07). Cosponsors (3). Status: Referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, and in addition to the Committee on Ways and Means, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

H.R.2585: A bill to amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to modify Medicare physician reimbursement policies to ensure a future physician workforce, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Burgess, Michael C. [TX-26] (introduced 6/6/07). Cosponsors (16). Status: Referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and in addition to the Committee on Ways and Means, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

H.R.2612: Mental Health Care for Our Wounded Warriors Act. A bill to improve mental health care for wounded members of the Armed Forces, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Davis, Susan A. [CA-53] (introduced 6/7/07).Cosponsors (16). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel. To support this bill and/or contact your Representative refer to
http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=9914821&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

H.R.2623: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to prohibit the collection of copayments for all hospice care furnished by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Sponsor: Rep Miller, Jeff [FL-1] (introduced 6/7/07). Cosponsors (1). 7/27/2007 Placed on the Union Calendar, Calendar No. 169.

H.R.2642: Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act, 2008. A bill to make appropriations for military construction, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2008, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Edwards, Chet [TX-17] (introduced 6/11/07). Cosponsors (None). Received in the Senate 6/18/07. Read twice. Resolving differences 9/6/2007 -- Senate actions. Status: Senate insists on its amendment, asks for a conference, appoints conferees Johnson; Inouye; Landrieu; Byrd; Murray; Reed; Nelson NE; Leahy; Hutchison; Craig; Brownback; Allard; McConnell; Bennett; Cochran.

H.R.2689: A bill to require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a program for the provision of readjustment and mental health services to veterans who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Rodriguez, Ciro D. [TX-23] (introduced 6/12/07). Cosponsors (7). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.2696: Veterans' Dignified Burial Assistance Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to increase assistance for veterans interred in cemeteries other than national cemeteries, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Lamborn, Doug [CO-5] (introduced 6/13/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.2697: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to expand eligibility for veterans' mortgage life insurance to include members of the Armed Forces receiving specially adapted housing assistance from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Sponsor: Rep Lamborn, Doug [CO-5] (introduced 6/13/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.2699: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to repeal authority for adjustments to per diem payments to homeless veterans service centers for receipt of other sources of income, to extend authorities for certain programs to benefit homeless veterans, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Murphy, Patrick J. [PA-8] (introduced 6/13/07). Cosponsors (3). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.2702: Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to establish a program of educational assistance for members of the Armed Forces who serve in the Armed Forces after September 11, 2001, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Scott, Robert C. [VA-3] (introduced 6/13/07). Cosponsors (65). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.2721: A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to develop, and the Secretary of Defense to distribute to members of the Armed Forces upon their discharge or release from active duty, information in a compact disk read-only memory format that lists and explains the health, education, and other benefits for which veterans are eligible under the laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Sponsor: Rep Cardoza, Dennis A. [CA-18] (introduced 6/14/07).Cosponsors (None). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.2795: Reasonable Rates for Veterans Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to set the rate of reimbursement under the beneficiary travel program of the Department of Veterans Affairs at $0.21 per mile. Sponsor: Rep Pearce, Stevan [NM-2] (introduced 6/20/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.2855: Wounded Heroes' Bill of Rights Act. A bill to provide for transitional emergency assistance to certain members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are severely injured while serving on active duty, to expand and improve programs for caregiver services for those members and veterans, to require improved screening and care for traumatic brain injury for returning servicemembers and veterans, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Rodriguez, Ciro D. [TX-23] (introduced 6/25/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

H.R.2874: Veterans' Health Care Improvement Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to make certain improvements in the provision of health care to veterans, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Michaud, Michael H. [ME-2] (introduced 6/27/07). Cosponsors (23). Status: Forwarded by Subcommittee to Full Committee (Amended) by Voice Vote. 7/27/2007 Placed on the Union Calendar, Calendar No. 170.

H.R.2910: VETS Act of 2007. A bill to amend the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act to provide for reimbursement to members of the Armed Forces of tuition for programs of education delayed by military service, for deferment of students loans and reduced interest rates for members of the Armed Forces during periods of military service, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Davis, Susan A. [CA-53] (introduced 6/28/07). Cosponsors (62). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.2943: Benefit Rating Acceleration for Veteran Entitlements Act of 2007. A bill to amend titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act to provide for treatment of disability rated and certified as total by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs as disability for purposes of such titles. Sponsor: Rep Sarbanes, John P. [MD-3] (introduced 6/28/07). Cosponsors (59). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means. To support this bill and/or contact your Representative refer to http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=10020981&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

H.R.2996: Military Retiree Dislocation Assistance Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 37, United States Code, to provide a dislocation allowance under section 407 of such title to retired members of the uniformed services, including members placed on the temporary disability retired list, moving from their last duty station to their designated home. Sponsor: Rep Drake, Thelma D. [VA-2] (introduced 7/11/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and in addition to the Committees on Agriculture, and Ways and Means, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

H.R.3008: Rural Veterans Services Outreach and Training Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve services for veterans residing in rural areas. Sponsor: Rep Wu, David [OR-1] (introduced 7/11/07). Cosponsors (15). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.3040: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide additional educational assistance under the Montgomery GI Bill to veterans pursuing a degree in science, technology, engineering, or math.
Sponsor: Rep Space, Zachary T. [OH-18] (introduced 7/12/07).Cosponsors (8). Status: Referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, and in addition to the Committee on Armed Services, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

H.R.3046: Social Security Number Privacy and Identity Theft Prevention Act of 2007. A bill to amend the Social Security Act to enhance Social Security account number privacy protections, to prevent fraudulent misuse of the Social Security account number, and to otherwise enhance protection against identity theft, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep McNulty, Michael R. [NY-21] (introduced 7/16/07). Cosponsors (53). Status: Committee Consideration and Mark-up Session Held.

H.R.3047: Veterans Claims Processing Innovation Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the processing of claims for benefits administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Lamborn, Doug [CO-5] (introduced 7/16/07). Cosponsors (22). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.
H.R.3070: Disabled Veterans' Caregiver Compensation Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to authorize additional compensation to be paid to certain veterans in receipt of compensation for a service-connected disability rated totally disabling for whom a family member dependent on the veteran for support provides care. Sponsor: Rep Peterson, Collin C. [MN-7] (introduced 7/17/07). Cosponsors (none). Status: Referred to the Committee on Armed Services, and in addition to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

H.R.3099: National Guard and Reserve Higher Education Fairness Act. A bill to amend title 10, to permit members of the Selected Reserves and members of the reserve component to renter their military service and receive chapter 1607 education benefits if that member has earned such benefit before originally separating from service. Sponsor: Rep Carney, Christopher P. [PA-10] (introduced 7/19/07). Cosponsors (54). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Armed Services.

H.R.3103: Veteran's Choice in Nursing Home Care Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to provide partial payment for nursing home care to eligible veterans at a non-Department of Veterans Affairs nursing home of the veteran's choice, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Drake, Thelma D. [VA-2] (introduced 7/19/07). Cosponsors (3). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.3128: A bill to direct the Secretary of Defense to conduct a study on the feasibility of using military identification numbers instead of social security numbers to identify members of the Armed Forces. Sponsor: Rep Gohmert, Louie [TX-1] (introduced 7/23/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Armed Services.

H.R.3191: Wounded Warrior Information Sharing Act. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to provide for the transfer of certain contact information for a member of the Armed Forces who is being medically separated or retired under chapter 61 of such title to the department or agency for veterans affairs of the State in which the member intends to reside. Sponsor: Rep Courtney, Joe [CT-2] (introduced 7/26/07). Cosponsors (25). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Armed Services.

H.R.3210: Wounded Warriors Expansion of Care Act of 2007. A bill to provide medical care and other benefits for members and former members of the Armed Forces with severe injuries or illnesses. Sponsor: Rep Donnelly, Joe [IN-2] (introduced 7/27/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

H.R.3249: Veterans Burial Benefits Improvement Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to increase burial benefits for veterans, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Berkley, Shelley [NV-1] (introduced 7/31/07). Cosponsors (22). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.3286: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to reduce the period of time for which a veteran must be totally disabled before the veteran's survivors are eligible for the benefits provided by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs for survivors of certain veterans rated totally disabled at time of death. Sponsor: Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] (introduced 8/1/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.3298: 21st Century Servicemembers Protection Act . A bill to amend the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act to allow individuals called to military service to terminate or suspend certain service contracts entered into before the individual receives notice of a permanent change of station or deployment orders and to provide penalties for violations of interest rate limitations. Sponsor: Rep Murphy, Patrick J. [PA-8] (introduced 8/1/07). Cosponsors (57). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.3329 : Homes for Heroes Act of 2007. A bill to provide housing assistance for very low-income veterans. Sponsor: Rep Green, Al [TX-9] (introduced 8/2/07). Cosponsors (14). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services.

H.R.3380: A bill to amend title 4, United States Code, to prescribe that members of the Armed Forces and veterans out of uniform may render the military salute during hoisting, lowering, or passing of flag. Sponsor: Rep Boren, Dan [OK-2] (introduced 8/3/07). Cosponsors (10). Status: Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.

H.R.3393: Reservist Access to Justice Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve veterans' reemployment rights under chapter 43 of such title, to exempt claims brought under that chapter from arbitration under chapter 1 of title 9 of such Code, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Davis, Artur [AL-7] (introduced 8/3/07). Cosponsors (8). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.3415: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to authorize the placement in a national cemetery of memorial markers for the purpose of commemorating servicemembers or other persons whose remains are interred in an American Battle Monuments Commission cemetery. Sponsor: Rep Langevin, James R. [RI-2] (introduced 8/3/07). Cosponsors (4). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.3423: United States Cadet Nurse Corps Equity Act. A bill to provide that service of the members of the organization known as the United States Cadet Nurse Corps during World War II constituted active military service for purposes of laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Sponsor: Rep Lowey, Nita M. [NY-18] (introduced 8/3/07). Cosponsors (7). Status: Referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, and in addition to the Committee on Armed Services, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

H.R.3429: Hire a Hero Act . A bill to authorize a competitive grant program to assist members of the National Guard and Reserve and former and current members of the Armed Forces in securing employment in the private sector, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Murphy, Patrick J. [PA-8] (introduced 8/3/07). Cosponsors (14). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Armed Services.

H.R.3449: Guard and Reserve Early Retirement Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to provide eligibility for reduced non-regular service military retired pay before age 60, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Wilson, Joe [SC-2] (introduced 8/3/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Armed Services.

H.R.3458: A bill to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out a pilot program on the provision of traumatic brain injury care in rural areas. Sponsor: Rep Capito, Shelley Moore [WV-2] (introduced 8/4/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

H.R.3471: Atomic Veterans Medal Act of 2007. A bill to provide for the award of a military service medal to members of the Armed Forces who were exposed to ionizing radiation as a result of participation in a test of atomic weapons. Sponsor: Rep Tiahrt, Todd [KS-4] (introduced 9/4/07). Cosponsors (4). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Armed Services.

H.R.3581: A bill to clarify the roles of the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs disability evaluation systems for retirement and compensation of members of the Armed Forces for disability, to require the development of a single physical exam that can be used to determine both fitness for duty and disability ratings, to standardize fitness testing among the Armed Forces, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Jones, Walter B., Jr. [NC-3] (introduced 9/19/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Referred to the Committee on Armed Services, and in addition to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

H.R.3620: Homecoming Enhancement Research and Oversight Act. A bill to provide for a comprehensive national research effort on the physical and mental health and other readjustment needs of the members of the Armed Forces and veterans who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom and their families. Sponsor: Rep Kilpatrick, Carolyn C. [MI-13] (introduced 9/20/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Referred to the Committee on Armed Services, and in addition to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

H.R.3645: A bill to implement recommendations of the President's Commission on Care for America's Returning Wounded Warriors. Sponsor: Rep Space, Zachary T. [OH-18] (introduced 9/24/07). Cosponsors (5). Status: Referred to the Committee on Armed Services, and in addition to the Committees on Veterans' Affairs, Education and Labor, House Administration, and Oversight and Government Reform, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

H.R.3786: A bill to amend the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act to allow individuals called to military service to terminate telecommunications contracts entered into before the individual receives notice of a permanent change of station or deployment orders. Sponsor: Rep Lofgren, Zoe [CA-16] (introduced 10/9/07). Cosponsors (5). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

H.R.3794: A bill to improve the availability of benefits for veterans and the surviving spouses of veterans who were exposed while in military service to ionizing radiation, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] (introduced 10/10/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, and in addition to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

H.R.3795: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide that veterans of service in the 1991 Persian Gulf War and subsequent conflicts shall be considered to be radiation-exposed veterans for purposes of the service-connection of certain diseases and disabilities, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] (introduced 10/10/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans'

H.R.3819: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to reimburse veterans receiving emergency treatment in non-Department of Veterans Affairs facilities for such treatment until such veterans are transferred to Department facilities, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Space, Zachary T. [OH-18] (introduced 10/10/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

[Source:  http://thomas.loc.gov/bss/110search.html  13 Oct 07 ++]

Senate Bills

United States Senate website: http://www.senate.gov/  
To contact Members of the United States, go to : http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm  

S.0022: Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to establish a program of educational assistance for members of the Armed Forces who serve in the Armed Forces after September 11, 2001, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Webb, Jim [VA] (introduced 1/4/07). Cosponsors (22). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs. To support this bill and/or contact your Senator refer to
http://capwiz.com/moaa/issues/bills/?bill=9242071

S.0038: A bill to require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a program for the provision of readjustment and mental health services to veterans who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Domenici, Pete V. [NM] (introduced 5/23/07). Cosponsors (8). Companion Bill is H.R.0025. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.0057: Filipino Veterans Equity Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to deem certain service in the organized military forces of the Government of the Commonwealth of the Philippines and the Philippine Scouts to have been active service for purposes of benefits under programs administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Sponsor: Sen Inouye, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 1/4/07). Cosponsors (15). Companion bill H.R.0760. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.0066: A bill to require the Secretary of the Army to determine the validity of the claims of certain Filipinos that they performed military service on behalf of the United States during World War II.
Sponsor: Sen Inouye, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 1/4/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.0067: A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to permit former members of the Armed Forces who have a service-connected disability rated as total to travel on military aircraft in the same manner and to the same extent as retired members of the Armed Forces are entitled to travel on such aircraft. Sponsor: Sen Inouye, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 1/4/07). Cosponsors (6). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

S.0071: A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to authorize certain disabled former prisoners of war (POWs) to use DoD commissary and exchange stores. Sponsor: Sen Inouye, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 1/4/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

S.0117: Veterans Health and Benefits Improvement Act of 2007. A bill to amend titles 10 and 38, United States Code, to improve benefits and services for members of the Armed Forces, veterans of the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), and other veterans, to require reports on the effects of the GWOT, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Obama, Barack [IL] (introduced 1/4/07). Cosponsors (15). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.0161: Veterans' Disability Compensation Automatic COLA Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for annual cost-of-living adjustments to be made automatically by law each year in the rates of disability compensation for veterans with service-connected disabilities and the rates of dependency and indemnity compensation for survivors of certain service-connected disabled veterans.
Sponsor: Sen Thune, John [SD] (introduced 1/4/07). Cosponsors (2). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs. To support this bill and/or contact your Senator refer to
http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=9568626&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

S.0207: Voluntary Support for Reservists and National Guard Members Act. A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow taxpayers to designate part or all of any income tax refund to support reservists and National Guard members. Sponsor: Sen Coleman, Norm [MN] (introduced 1/9/07). Cosponsors (2). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance.

S.0225: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to expand the number of individuals qualifying for retroactive benefits from traumatic injury protection coverage under Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance. It would expand retroactive payments of traumatic injury insurance to servicemembers injured outside a combat area between 10 OCT 01 and 1 DEC 05. Sponsor: Sen Craig, Larry E. [ID] (introduced 1/9/07). Cosponsors (3). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs. To support this bill and/or contact your Senator refer to
http://capwiz.com/moaa/issues/bills/?bill=9242246

S.0326: Disabled Veterans Tax Fairness Act of 2007. A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide a special period of limitation when uniformed services retirement pay is reduced as result of award of disability compensation. Sponsor: Sen Lincoln, Blanche L. [AR] (introduced 1/17/07). Cosponsors (29). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance. To support this bill and/or contact your Senator refer to http://capwiz.com/moaa/issues/bills/?bill=9294921

S.0383: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to extend the period of eligibility for health care for combat service in the Persian Gulf War or future hostilities from two years to five years after discharge or release. Sponsor: Sen Akaka, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 1/24/07). Cosponsors (5). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.0415: Veterans' Memorials … Protection Act of 2007. A bill to amend the Revised Statutes of the United States to prevent the use of the legal system in a manner that among other things will stop the award of taxpayer dollars in legal fees to groups filing lawsuits against veterans’ memorials and public displays of religion. Sponsor: Sen Brownback, Sam [KS] (introduced 1/29/07). Cosponsors (20). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

S.0423: Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2007. A bill to increase, effective as of December 1, 2007, the rates of compensation for veterans with service-connected disabilities and the rates of dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC) for the survivors of certain disabled veterans. Sponsor: Sen Akaka, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 1/29/07). Cosponsors (10). 7/24/2007 Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders. Calendar No. 283.

S.0439: Retired Pay Restoration Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to permit certain retired members of the uniformed services who have a service-connected disability to receive both disability compensation from the VA for their disability and either retired pay by reason of their years of military service or Combat-Related Special Compensation. Sponsor: Sen Reid, Harry [NV] (introduced 1/31/07). Cosponsors (28). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

S.0479: Veterans Suicide Prevention Act. A bill to reduce the incidence of suicide among veterans. Sponsor: Sen Harkin, Tom [IA] (introduced 2/1/07). Cosponsors (31). Status: Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar 7/23/07 under General Orders. Calendar No. 279.

S.0604: Military Retirees Health Care Protection Act. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to limit increases in the certain costs of health care services under the health care programs of DoD, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Lautenberg, Frank R. [NJ] (introduced 2/15/07). Cosponsors (20). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services. To support this bill and/or contact your Senator refer to
http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=9388371&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id] 

S.0617: Veterans Eagle Parks Pass Act. A bill to make the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass available at a discount to certain veterans. Sponsor: Sen Smith, Gordon H. [OR] (introduced 2/15/07). Cosponsors (11). Status: Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Senate Subcommittee on National Parks. Hearings held.

S.0643: Disabled Veterans Insurance Act of 2007. A bill to amend section 1922A of title 38, United States Code, to increase the amount of supplemental insurance available for totally disabled veterans. Sponsor: Sen Akaka, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 2/15/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.0644: Total Force Montgomery GI Bill. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to recodify as part of that title certain educational assistance programs for members of the reserve components of the Armed Forces, to improve such programs, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Lincoln, Blanche L. [AR] (introduced 2/15/07). Cosponsors (17). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

S.0648: National Guard and Reserve Retirement Modernization Act. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to reduce the eligibility age for receipt of non-regular military service retired pay for members of the Ready Reserve in active federal status or on active duty for significant periods. Sponsor: Sen Chambliss, Saxby [GA] (introduced 2/15/07). Cosponsors (16). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

S.0659: A bill to amend section 1477 of title 10, United States Code, to provide for the payment of the death gratuity with respect to members of the Armed Forces without a surviving spouse who are survived by a minor child. Sponsor: Sen Hagel, Chuck [NE] (introduced 2/16/07). Cosponsors (6). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services. Companion Bill is H.R.1115. To support this bill and/or contact your Representative refer to http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=9423746&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

S.0671: Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act. A bill to exempt children of certain Filipino World War II veterans from the numerical limitations on immigrant visas. Sponsor: Sen Akaka, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 2/16/07). Cosponsors (11). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

S.0713: Dignity for Wounded Warriors Act. A bill to ensure dignity in care for members of the Armed Forces recovering from injuries. Sponsor: Sen Obama, Barack [IL] (introduced 2/28/07). Cosponsors (34). Companion Bill is H.R.1268. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services. To support this bill and/or contact your Senator refer to
http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=9454946&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

S.0723: Montgomery GI Bill Enhancement Act of 2007. A bill to provide certain enhancements to the Montgomery GI Bill Program for certain individuals who serve as members of the Armed Forces after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Hagel, Chuck [NE] (introduced 3/1/07). Cosponsors (1). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

S.0773: A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow Federal civilian and military retirees to pay health insurance premiums on a pretax basis and to allow a deduction for TRICARE supplemental premiums. Sponsor: Sen Warner, John [VA] (introduced 3/6/07). Cosponsors (52). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance. Companion bill to H.R.1110. To support this bill and/or contact your Senator refer to
http://capwiz.com/moaa/issues/alert/?alertid=9598891&type=CO

S.0793: Reauthorization of the Traumatic Brain Injury Act. A bill to provide for the expansion and improvement of traumatic brain injury programs. Sponsor: Sen Hatch, Orrin G. [UT] (introduced 3/7/07). Cosponsors (19). Companion bill to H.R.1418. Status: Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. Ordered to be reported without amendment favorably.

S.0815: Veterans Health Care Empowerment Act of 2007. A bill to provide health care benefits to veterans with a service-connected disability at non-DVA medical facilities that receive payments under the Medicare program or the TRICARE program. Sponsor: Sen Craig, Larry E. [ID] (introduced 3/8/07). Cosponsors (3). Companion bill to H.R.1416. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.0847: A bill to extend the period of time during which a veteran's multiple sclerosis is to be considered to have been incurred in, or aggravated by, military service during a period of war. Sponsor: Sen Murray, Patty [WA] (introduced 3/13/07). Cosponsors (2). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.0848: Prisoner of War Benefits Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide improved benefits for veterans who are former prisoners of war. Sponsor: Sen Murray, Patty [WA] (introduced 3/13/07). Cosponsors (2). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.0882: A bill to require a pilot program on the facilitation of the transition of members of the Armed Forces to receipt of veterans health care benefits upon completion of military service, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Menendez, Robert [NJ] (introduced 3/14/07). Cosponsors (7). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.0935: A bill to repeal the requirement for reduction of survivor annuities under the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) by veterans' dependency and indemnity compensation, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Nelson, Bill [FL] (introduced 3/20/07). Cosponsors (43). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services. To support this bill and/or contact your Senator refer to http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=9549971&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

S.0961: Belated Thank You to the Merchant Mariners of World War II Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 46, United States Code, to provide benefits to certain individuals who served in the United States merchant marine (including the Army Transport Service and the Naval Transport Service) during World War II, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Nelson, E. Benjamin [NE] (introduced 3/22/07). Cosponsors (50). Companion bill H.R.0023. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.0986: Combat-Related Special Compensation Act of 2007. A bill to expand eligibility for Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) paid by the uniformed services in order to permit certain additional retired members who have a service-connected disability to receive both disability compensation from the DVA for that disability and Combat-Related Special Compensation by reason of that disability. Sponsor: Sen Reid, Harry [NV] (introduced 3/26/07). Cosponsors (4). Companion bill H.R.0089. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services. To support this bill and/or contact your Senator refer to http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=9581151&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

S.0994: Disabled Veterans Fairness Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to eliminate the deductible and change the method of determining the mileage reimbursement rate under the beneficiary travel program administered by the Secretary of Veteran Affairs, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Tester, Jon [MT] (introduced 3/27/07). Cosponsors (9). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.1005: Military Reservist and Veteran Small Business Reauthorization Act of 2007. A bill to amend the Small Business Act to improve programs for veterans, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Kerry, John F. [MA] (introduced 3/28/07). Cosponsors (4). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

S.1065: Heroes at Home Act of 2007. A bill to improve the diagnosis and treatment of traumatic brain injury in members and former members of the Armed Forces, to review and expand telehealth and telemental health programs of the DoD and the DVA. Sponsor: Sen Clinton, Hillary Rodham [NY] (introduced 3/29/07). Cosponsors (8). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

S.1084: Homes for Heroes Act of 2007. A bill to provide housing assistance for very low-income veterans. Sponsor: Sen Obama, Barack [IL] (introduced 4/10/07). Cosponsors (9). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

S.1096: Veterans Housing Benefits Enhancement Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide certain housing benefits to disabled members of the Armed Forces, to expand certain benefits for disabled veterans with severe burns, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Cornyn, John [TX] (introduced 4/12/07). Cosponsors (5). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.1097: Cold War Medal Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to provide for the award of a military service medal to members of the Armed Forces who served honorably during the Cold War era. Sponsor: Sen Clinton, Hillary Rodham [NY] (introduced 4/12/07). Cosponsors (1). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

S.1146: Rural Veterans Health Care Improvement Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve health care for veterans who live in rural areas, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Salazar, Ken [CO] (introduced 4/18/07). Cosponsors (26). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs. To support this bill and/or contact your Senator refer to http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=10064941&queueid=1314882681

S.1147: Honor Our Commitment to Veterans Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to terminate the administrative freeze on the enrollment into the health care system of the Department of Veterans Affairs of veterans in the lowest priority category for enrollment (referred to as "Priority 8"). Sponsor: Sen Murray, Patty [WA] (introduced 4/18/07). Cosponsors (4). Companion Bill H.R.0463. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.1163: Blinded Veterans Paired Organ Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve compensation and specially adapted housing for veterans in certain cases of impairment of vision involving both eyes, and to provide for the use of the National Directory of New Hires for income verification purposes. Sponsor: Sen Akaka, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 4/19/2007). Cosponsors (6). Status: Committee on Veterans' Affairs. Ordered to be reported without amendment favorably.

S.1196: Mental Health Care for Our Wounded Warriors Act. A bill to improve mental health care for wounded members of the Armed Forces, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Lieberman, Joseph I. [CT] (introduced 4/24/07). Cosponsors (6). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

S.1205: A bill to require a pilot program on assisting veterans service organizations and other veterans groups in developing and promoting peer support programs that facilitate community reintegration of veterans returning from active duty, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Smith, Gordon H. [OR] (introduced 4/25/07). Cosponsors (5). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.1233: Veterans Traumatic Brain Injury Rehabilitation Act of 2007. A bill to provide and enhance intervention, rehabilitative treatment, and services to veterans with traumatic brain injury, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Akaka, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 4/26/07). Cosponsors (10). Status: Committee on Veterans' Affairs. Ordered to be reported with amendments favorably.

S.1243: A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to reduce the age for receipt of military retired pay for nonregular service from 60 years of age to 55 years of age. Sponsor: Sen Kerry, John F. [MA] (introduced 4/26/07). Cosponsors (6). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

S.1252: A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to provide for uniformity in the awarding of disability ratings for wounds or injuries incurred by members of the Armed Forces, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Sen Akaka, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 4/30/07). Cosponsors (2). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services. To support this bill and/or contact your Senator refer to
http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=9769981&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

S.1265: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to expand eligibility for veterans' mortgage life insurance to include members of the Armed Forced receiving specially adapted housing assistance from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Sponsor: Sen Craig, Larry E. [ID] (introduced 5/2/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.1266: Veterans' Dignified Burial Assistance Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to increase assistance for veterans interred in cemeteries other than national cemeteries, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Craig, Larry E. [ID] (introduced 5/2/07). Cosponsors (1). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.1283: Wounded Warrior Assistance Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to improve the management of medical care, personnel actions, and quality of life issues for members of the Armed Forces who are receiving medical care in an outpatient status, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Pryor, Mark L. [AR] (introduced 5/3/07). Cosponsors (2). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services. Companion Bill H.R.1538. Passed by Senate and referred to a Senate/House compromise committee.

S.1293: Veterans' Education and Vocational Benefits Improvement Act of 2007. A bill to amend titles 10 and 38, United States Code, to improve educational assistance for members and former members of the Armed Forces, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Craig, Larry E. [ID] (introduced 5/3/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.1314: Veterans Outreach Improvement Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the outreach activities of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Feingold, Russell D. [WI] (introduced 5/7/07). Cosponsors (1). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.1315: Disabled Veterans Insurance Improvement Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to enhance life insurance benefits for disabled veterans, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Akaka, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 5/7/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Committee on Veterans' Affairs. Ordered to be reported with amendments favorably. Companion bill H.R.2026.

S.1326: Comprehensive Veterans Benefits Improvements Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve and enhance compensation and pension, health care, housing, burial, and other benefits for veterans, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen. Bernard Sanders [I-VT] (introduced 5/8/07). Cosponsors (none). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs. To support this bill and/or contact your Senator refer to
http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=10072701&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

S.1349: Military and Veterans Traumatic Brain Injury Treatment Act. A bill to ensure that the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs provide to members of the Armed Forces and veterans with traumatic brain injury the services that best meet their individual needs, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Durbin, Richard [IL] (introduced 5/9/07). Cosponsors (9). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

S.1363: Bridging the Gap for Wounded Warriors Act. A bill to improve health care for severely injured members and former members of the Armed Forces, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Clinton, Hillary Rodham [NY] (introduced 5/10/07). Cosponsors (6). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

S.1409: 21st Century GI Bill of Rights Act of 2007. A bill to provide and enhance education, housing, and entrepreneur assistance for veterans who serve in the Armed Forces after September 11, 2001, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Clinton, Hillary Rodham [NY] (introduced 5/16/07). Cosponsors (2). Companion bill H.R.2385. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.1441: State Veterans Home Modernization Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to modify authorities for the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to accept new applications for grants for State home construction projects to authorize the Secretary to award grants for construction of facilities used in non-institutional care programs, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Craig, Larry E. [ID] (introduced 5/21/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.1444: Supply Our Soldiers Act of 2007. A bill to provide for free mailing privileges for personal correspondence and parcels sent to members of the Armed Forces serving on active duty in Iraq or Afghanistan. Sponsor: Sen Clinton, Hillary Rodham [NY] (introduced 5/22/07). Cosponsors (2). Status: Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs referred to Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services, and International Security. To support this bill and/or contact your Senator refer to
http://capwiz.com/naus/issues/alert/?alertid=9933621&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

S.1454: Veterans Burial Benefits Improvement Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to increase burial benefits for veterans, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Mikulski, Barbara A. [MD] (introduced 5/23/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.1468: Veterans Burial Benefits Improvement Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to increase burial benefits for veterans, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Mikulski, Barbara A. [MD] (introduced 5/23/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.1480: Gold Star Parents Annuity Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for the payment of a monthly stipend to the surviving parents (known as "Gold Star parents") of members of the Armed Forces who die during a period of war. Sponsor: Sen Clinton, Hillary Rodham [NY] (introduced 5/24/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.1481: Fair and Reliable Medical Justice Act. A bill to restore fairness and reliability to the medical justice system and promote patient safety by fostering alternatives to current medical tort litigation, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Baucus, Max [MT] (introduced 5/24/07). Cosponsors (2). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

S.1569: Veterans Advocacy Act of 2007. A bill to establish a pilot program on the provision of legal services to assist veterans and members of the Armed Forces receive health care, benefits and services, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Feingold, Russell D. [WI] (introduced 6/7/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.1606: Dignified Treatment of Wounded Warriors Act. A bill to provide for the establishment of a comprehensive policy on the care and management of wounded warriors in order to facilitate and enhance their care, rehabilitation, physical evaluation, transition from care by the Department of Defense to care by the Department of Veterans Affairs, and transition from military service to civilian life, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Levin, Carl [MI] (introduced 6/13/07). Cosponsors (46). 6/18/07 Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders. Calendar No. 203.

S.1645: Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2008. An original bill making appropriations for military construction, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2008, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Reed, Jack [RI] (introduced 6/18/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar 6/18/07 under General Orders. Calendar No. 205.

S.1670: Servicemembers' Healthcare Benefits and Rehabilitation Enhancement Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to improve the management of medical care for members of the Armed Forces, to improve the speed and efficiency of the physical disability evaluation system of the Department of Defense, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Snowe, Olympia J. [ME] (introduced 6/20/07).Cosponsors (None). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

S.1688: Higher Education Opportunity for Our National Guard and Reserve Soldiers Act. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to extend the time limit for the use of education assistance by members of the Selected Reserve and members of the reserve component supporting contingency operations and certain other operations. Sponsor: Sen Casey, Robert P., Jr. [PA] (introduced 6/25/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

S.1718: VETS Act. A bill to amend the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act to provide for reimbursement to servicemembers of tuition for programs of education interrupted by military service, for deferment of students loans and reduced interest rates for servicemembers during periods of military service, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Brown, Sherrod [OH] (introduced 6/27/07). Cosponsors (11). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.1719: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide additional educational assistance under the Montgomery GI Bill to veterans pursuing a degree in science, technology, engineering, or math. Sponsor: Sen Brown, Sherrod [OH] (introduced 6/27/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.1757: Veterans' Authorities Expansion Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to extend or make permanent certain authorities for veterans' benefits, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Akaka, Daniel K. [HI] (by request) (introduced 7/10/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.1763: Cold War Medal Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to provide for the award of a military service medal to members of the Armed Forces who served honorably during the Cold War era. Sponsor: Sen Clinton, Hillary Rodham [NY] (introduced 7/11/2007). Cosponsors (1). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

S.1784: Military Reservist and Veteran Small Business Reauthorization and Opportunity Act of 2007. A bill to amend the Small Business Act to improve programs for veterans, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Kerry, John F. [MA] (introduced 7/12/07). Cosponsors (6). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

S.1822: Interest Relief Act. A bill to amend the Federal Direct Loan Program to provide that interest shall not accrue on Federal Direct Loans for active duty service members and their spouses. Sponsor: Sen Bayh, Evan [IN] (introduced 7/19/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

S.1877: A bill to amend title 4, United States Code, to prescibe that members of the Armed Forces and veterans out of uniform may render the miltary salute during hoisting, lowering, or passing of flag. Sponsor: Sen Inhofe, James M. [OK] (introduced 7/25/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.

S.1879: A bill to amend titles 10 and 37, United States Code, to reduce the minimum age of retirement for years of non-regular service for reserves who serve on active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, to increase the amount of educational assistance for members of the Selected Reserve, and to provide certain other benefits relating to service in the reserve components of the Armed Forces, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Schumer, Charles E. [NY] (introduced 7/26/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

S.2004: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to establish epilepsy centers of excellence in the Veterans Health Administration of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Sen Murray, Patty [WA] (introduced 8/3/07). Cosponsors (2). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.2026: Agent Orange Equitable Compensation Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, chapter 11, to clarify that an award of benefits based on a regulatory presumption established pursuant to 28 U.S.C. section 1116 after September 30, 2002, cannot be made effective earlier than the date the regulatory presumption was established; and to clarify that the presumption of herbicide exposure provided by 38 U.S.C. section 1116(f) applies only to veterans who served in Vietnam on land or on Vietnam's inland waterways and not to those who served only in waters offshore or in airspace above. Sponsor: Sen Akaka, Daniel K. [HI] (by request) (introduced 9/6/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.2027: Veterans' Pride Initiative Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, chapter 5, to authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish and promote programs and activities honoring veterans and to authorize the next of kin of a deceased veteran to wear the veteran's awards and decorations under certain circumstances. Sponsor: Sen Akaka, Daniel K. [HI] (by request) (introduced 9/6/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.2089: Medicare Prescription Drug Gap Reduction Act of 2007. A bill to amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to reduce the coverage gap in prescription drug coverage under part D of such title based on savings to the Medicare program resulting from the negotiation of prescription drug prices. Sponsor: Sen Nelson, Bill [FL] (introduced 9/25/07). Cosponsors (7). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance

S.2119: American Veterans Disabled for Life Commemorative Coin Act. A bill to require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint coins in commemoration of veterans who became disabled for life while serving in the Armed Forces of the United States. Sponsor: Sen Johnson, Tim [SD] (introduced 10/1/07). Cosponsors (24). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

S.2142: Veterans Emergency Care Fairness Act of 2007. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to reimburse veterans receiving emergency treatment in non-Department of Veterans Affairs facilities for such treatment until such veterans are transferred to Department facilities, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Brown, Sherrod [OH] (introduced 10/4/07). Cosponsors (None). Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

[Source: http://thomas.loc.gov/bss/110search.html 13 Oct 07 ++]




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