Keeping Our Promises to Our Veterans
Our United States Senator, Debbie Stabenow, believes our veterans should not stand at the back of any line. Whether it’s health care, education, the chance at a good job, or the military recognitions they earned in service, our nation must keep its promises to our heroes who have served.
Senator Stabenow has held 13 roundtables across our state over the last year with Michigan veterans, commanders, and service providers. A number of concerns were raised during those discussions. Senator Stabenow heard those concerns and in response is announcing actions to improve services for our veterans in four areas: transition assistance, housing for student veterans, health care, and support for farmer veterans.
Veterans Transition Assistance
One of the top concerns raised was the difficulty veterans have in transitioning from a life in the military to civilian life. There are a number of community resources available for transitioning veterans, but many veterans don’t know about them. At the same time, many organizations that offer assistance aren’t aware of people in their community who could use help. That’s why Senator Stabenow has introduced bipartisan legislation with Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) to reform the Transition Assistance Program, which is responsible for providing counseling, training and assistance to service members.
More Information and Community Connections
Senator Stabenow’s IMPROVE Transition for Servicemembers Act allows service members to give permission to be contacted by local community groups – including veteran service organizations – as they transition into civilian life. It would also require the Department of Defense to start the transition process for service members earlier – one year before leaving the military – so that service members are better able to plan. In addition, transitioning veterans would receive more thorough and timely information on training and education opportunities.
Greater Accountability at the Department of Defense
The Department of Defense would be required to have an adequate number of counselors to assist transitioning service members, to assess the needs of separating service members, to establish a single database to track how veterans are moving through the transition process, and to assess the leadership of commanders in supporting the successful transition of service members. Finally, the legislation would require the Government Accountability Office to study how the transition assistance program works at small, remote bases.
Housing for Student Veterans
Because the VA cannot pay housing benefits in between academic semesters, for some student veterans, the end of the semester can mean the loss of housing benefits. Senator Stabenow’s common-sense Student Veterans Housing Act will ensure that student veterans don’t have to reach into their own pockets to pay for a benefit they have earned.
Health Care for Veterans
Whether it’s been championing new and expanded VA health clinics or improving mental health services, Senator Stabenow is committed to bringing veterans the care they need close to home. She heard from veterans across the state about problems with the Veterans Choice program and passed legislation to improve VA care.
VA Mission Act
The VA Mission Act – recently signed into law – included legislation authored by Senator Stabenow to require the VA to pay providers within 30 days of receiving an electronic claim or 45 days of receiving a paper claim. This will ensure that rural hospitals and providers are reimbursed for services and can continue to see patients.
The VA Mission Act also strengthens VA health care and expands caregiver benefits. And it establishes one community care program that allows veterans and their doctors to choose where to get health care.
Support for Farmer Veterans
Agriculture is Michigan’s second-largest industry, supporting one in four jobs, including job opportunities and rewarding careers for veterans. As Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Senator Stabenow championed initiatives in the 2014 Farm Bill to help veterans start careers in agriculture, creating a Veteran Liaison at the Agriculture Department and providing veterans more training and financing.
To build on this progress, Senator Stabenow authored provisions that help expand support for farmer veterans in the 2018 Senate Farm Bill, which passed the Senate on a historic vote of 86-11. The provisions would make risk management tools more affordable, improve access to land and capital, and prioritize training to help veterans in agriculture be successful.