Friday, November 13, 2015

Boozman-Authored Language Giving Military Retirees Honor They Deserve Included in Comprehensive Senate-Passed Bill

WASHINGTON – A comprehensive veterans bill passed by the Senate earlier this week includes language authored by U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) to honor as veterans, Guard and Reserve retirees who served honorably for a minimum of 20 years but do not meet the active duty service requirement to qualify them as veterans under existing law.

Current law defines a veteran as servicemen and women who have served on active duty, other than for training, for 180 consecutive days or more. Boozman’s language would add an honorary veteran status provision and allow these Guard and Reserve retirees to be recognized as a veteran. Due to the fact that no additional benefits beyond the title of veteran are extended to these retirees, there is no cost associated with this legislation. Boozman worked with his colleagues on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee to ensure bipartisan support for this legislation which has been stalled in the Senate for many years.

“In the years since 9/11, our National Guard and Reserve forces have seen significant mobilizations and active duty service. However, prior to 9/11 there were many National Guardsmen and Reservists who served faithfully for twenty or more years, ready to answer the call to active duty, who are not considered veterans under the government’s definition because the call to active duty service never came. National Guard and Reserve members who selflessly serve in defense of our country should be honored for their sacrifice. These men and women earned this recognition for their steadfast commitment to our national security and Armed Forces and rightfully deserve to be honored with the title of veteran,” Boozman said.

Boozman’s language was included in the 21st Century Veterans Benefits Delivery and Other Improvements Act, which was originally introduced by Senator Dean Heller (R-NV). Among other things, the comprehensive bill includes measures to:
  • Address disability claims and appeals processing at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
  • Increase cooperation between the VA and other agencies, including the National Guard Bureau, Department of Defense and Department of Labor.
  • Improve the Transition Assistance Program for service members who are leaving the military.
  • Expand the VA medical workforce by updating training programs and recruitment efforts.
  • Improve the Montgomery GI Bill-Selected Reserve education program and Post 9/11 GI Bill.
  • Assist surviving spouses of veteran owners of small businesses.
  • Revive a pilot program that hired veteran medics and corpsmen to be skilled nursing assistants in VA’s emergency departments.

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