Jan 31 2020

Legislation helps servicemembers transition to civilian life and receive proper benefits

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee unanimously passed two bills introduced by Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) out of committee. The two bills are:

S. 2864 – Sgt Daniel Somers Network of Support Act

  • Bipartisan legislation introduced by Senator Tillis and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) that would require the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to create networks of support for servicemembers transitioning to civilian life.
    • Specifically, the legislation would allow active duty servicemembers leaving the service to designate up to 10 loved ones to receive information from the VA on benefits and services available to veterans and their loved ones from the VA and community partners. By directly engaging families and loved ones, VA can prepare and equip veterans’ friends and families to better understand the transition from service to civilian life, notice when veterans struggle, and ensure they have access to the necessary tools to help veterans get assistance or care.
    • Last year, Tillis co-introduced similar legislation that was included in the annual defense authorization bill that requires the Department of Defense to create networks of support for servicemembers. This legislation expands that network of support concept to include transitioning servicemembers and veterans.

S. 3110 – Identifying Barriers & Best Practices Act

  • Legislation that directs the GAO to conduct a 3 year study of disability and pension benefits that were provided to veterans who served in special missions, such as pilots and divers, and those who served in the Guard and Reserve components. The multi-year study would examine disability and pension data from 2008 to 2018 in order to identify whether any barriers exist specifically for these veterans.
    • Additionally, the study requests recommendations for overcoming those barriers for veterans, if such barriers are identified.
  • Currently, Guardsmen and reservists report that service-connected injuries are sometimes not properly documented by medical staff due to the nature of their service and the tempo of the work required to be conducted during that shortened time of service. Consequently, they experience difficulty in obtaining disability benefits.
    • The goal of this study is to ensure that all disabled veterans have access to and are receiving correct services and that no parties are unfairly disadvantaged when attempting to access these benefits.

“I am proud my two bills that would reaffirm our commitment to our nation’s veterans were passed unanimously by the VA committee,” said Senator Tillis. “I have been working closely with my colleagues on a bipartisan basis to build support for these important issues, and I will continue to work to see these bills passed by the Senate.”