monthly cover
Senior Spectrum Newspaper
October 2017
Current Golden Pages Cover
Golden Pages
Current Generation Boomer cover
Generation Boomer

Senior Spectrum Publications

Opinion
by U.S. Senator Dean Heller

Results for Nevada's Veterans 

 U.S. Senator Dean Heller
U.S. Senator Dean Heller

This summer, Congress made great strides in fulfilling our nation's sacred promise to its military veterans. In fact, in a rare display of bipartisanship, Congress passed not one, not two, but three major bills to improve the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the assistance it provides to our country's finest men and women.

As a senior member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, one of my top priorities in Congress is ensuring that each and every veteran – whether they hail from the Greatest Generation or fought in the Battle of Hamburger Hill – receives the best quality and care they have earned.

That's why I'm pleased Congress swiftly passed, and the President signed, three different proposals that I cosponsored and helped pass to benefit Nevada's warriors and veterans of all ages across the country.

First, Congress successfully funded the Veterans Choice Program, which allows veterans to access services including surgeries and lifesaving treatments that the VA cannot provide. For example, Wendell, a Navy veteran from Lovelock, used the Choice Program to get a neck surgery to ensure he could still walk and John, an Air Force pilot from Battle Mountain, used the Choice Program to remove cancer above his neck.

The program also lets veterans living in rural areas to receive care near their homes. Without funding for the Choice Program, rural veterans would be forced to drive hundreds of miles to receive medical care.

Second, Congress passed the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act, landmark legislation that greatly expanded the G.I. Bill to even more veterans, and three of my provisions to help Nevada veterans were included. Instrumental in putting an entire generation of veterans through college and assisting with small business loans, the G.I. Bill has proven to be one of our country's greatest successes in the last century. That's why I strongly believe we must continue to strengthen this benefit for veterans today, and future generations.

Our bill offers G.I. Bill benefits for reservists and Purple Heart recipients and eliminates the arbitrary 15-year limit, giving our nation's warriors and their dependents the flexibility to further their education when the time is right for them.

And third, Congress approved the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act, which addresses the VA's broken and cumbersome appeals process. The bill was signed into law by President Trump in Reno in August.

The legislation creates three different options for veterans who wish to appeal their case. A veteran would be able to seek a higherlevel review by a regional office on the same evidence, file a supplemental claim with a regional office with the ability to submit additional evidence, or appeal directly to the Board of Veterans' Appeals with the possibility of a hearing or the ability to submit additional evidence.

The new law also institutes safeguards to ensure the VA has a plan to address pending appeals, the authority to test facets of the new appeals system, and compare data between the new and old system to gauge its success in serving veterans and their families.

While I believe our efforts to reform the VA have been largely successful this year, it means little if veterans do not know where to turn for help. Listed here are helpful links to the programs I mentioned above:

There is also a page highlighting the specific legislation we passed at: http://benefits.va.gov/GIBILL/ForeverGI Bill.asp.

Having access to this information is critical, and it's why my office is distributing a comprehensive veterans resource booklet highlighting various aspects of assistance.

To request a copy of the current Nevada Veterans Resource Book or for help with other issues, you can contact my office in Reno at (775) 686-5770 or my office in Las Vegas at (702) 388-6605.