Thursday, November 12, 2009
Report from the U.S. House
Honoring those who have served our country
This week, on Veterans Day, we honor those who have admirably served our country. Mississippi’s First Congressional District is home to approximately 7,500 veterans currently receiving benefits from the Veterans Administration, as well as over 4,000 retired veterans. Mississippi’s men and women of the armed services make great sacrifices to protect the fundamental freedoms upon which our nation was founded, and we must ensure that they receive the care and benefits they have earned upon their return home.
Just last week, Congress passed the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act, which helps military families struggling to make mortgage payments by making those payments tax-exempt. The bill also extends the $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit through April 30, 2010, giving more time for veterans who are just returning home to take advantage of the program.
During today’s tough economic times, it is especially important that veterans have access to the quality, affordable education they need to earn a living.
Earlier this fall, I was proud to introduce an amendment to the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA) that will increase student veterans’ college completion rates and help them take full advantage of the training and education benefits they have earned.
Specifically, the amendment will require campus Veterans Resource Officers to act as a link between student veterans and mental health care providers at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Student veterans will therefore be better connected to vital services provided by the Department and better prepared to complete their studies.
In addition, veterans started receiving college education benefits this summer under the new GI Bill for the 21st Century (the “Post-9/11 GI Bill”).
An estimated 2.1 million members of the military who have served on active duty since September 11, 2001, including activated reservists and members of the National Guard, will be eligible for up to four years of education benefits, including stipends for housing and books.
With Mississippi’s exceptional universities and community colleges, there is ample opportunity for veterans and their children in our state to benefit from this piece of legislation.
Along with providing education benefits, we must ensure that our veterans have access to quality health care. This spring, the House passed the Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act to secure timely health care funding for the VA.
The bill authorizes Congress to approve veterans’ medical care funding one year in advance to better anticipate, and meet the demand for, veterans’ health care services. The House also passed the Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act, which increases veterans’ disability payments to reflect cost-of-living increases.
Our veterans have risked their lives defending American freedoms, and this Veterans Day marks another year of accomplishments in ensuring that they receive the benefits they have earned and deserve.
My office is also here to serve our veterans and their families. If you need help with accessing benefits, receiving earned medals, or another issue, please call my Tupelo office at 662-841-8808, or visit the Veterans Assistance page on my website.
God bless our veterans and our troops, and God bless America.
As always, please continue to keep me informed about your opinions and concerns by phone at (202) 225-4306 or by visiting my website at www.childers. house.gov.
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