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Legislative Bulletin 



807 Maine Ave., SW Washington, D.C. 20024-2410 Phone (202) 554-3501 Fax (202) 554-3581 LEGISLATIVE BULLETIN

December 2011

Appropriations and Deficit Reduction

The Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction (referred to as the “Super Committee”) was

established in the Budget Control Act of 2011 (Public Law 112-25). The Super Committee reported

it was unable to identify savings sufficient to meet its mandate. Therefore, the enforcement

mechanisms contained in Public Law 112-25 will trigger automatic across-the-board cuts resulting in

an additional $1.2 trillion reduction in federal spending over the next ten years.

Based on our interpretation of Public Law 112-25 and prior budget laws, and after

consultation with outside budget experts, it appears that VA health care and benefit programs will be

exempt from any automatic budget cuts, including those mandated by a process called sequestration.

We are working closely with congressional leaders to ensure that any legislation being considered to

reduce spending or the deficit does not attempt to balance the budget on the backs of America’s

veterans, especially disabled veterans.

As we consider how these budget and deficit showdowns may affect veterans and the

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), it is important to remember that the VA health care system is

already funded for the current fiscal year that began on October 1, thanks to the advance

appropriations process that we fought so hard to enact a couple of years ago.

On Friday, December 16, 2011, the House passed H.R. 2055, the Fiscal Year 2012 Military

Construction – VA Appropriations bill, which became the vehicle for the “Megabus” appropriations

bill (the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012), which included the remaining appropriations bills.

On Saturday, December 17, the Senate passed the bill and sent it to the President.

COLA Bill Signed by President

On November 9, 2011, President Obama signed into law the legislation to provide a 3.6

percent increase in veterans’ disability compensation. The cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) also

affects the rates of dependency and indemnity compensation of veterans who died as a result of

service. The COLA is tied to the Consumer Price Index, which also adjusts benefits for Social

Security recipients. The law is effective December 1, 2011 and the increase will be seen in veterans’

compensation payments on January 1, 2012.

VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011

Congress approved the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 on November 16, 2011. The

Disabled American Veterans (DAV) urged lawmakers to approve this legislation, which is aimed at

creating job opportunities for the men and women who have protected and defended our nation and

our precious way of life. The President signed the bill into law on November 21, 2011.



The VOW to Hire Heroes Act includes important provisions that should positively impact the

unemployment rate of 12.1 percent that veterans of the current conflicts now face when they return

home. The measure combines provisions in the Hiring Heroes Act (S. 951) and the Veterans

Opportunity to Work Act (H.R. 2433) into a single, comprehensive package which addresses the


Improving the Transition Assistance Program (TAP): Makes TAP mandatory for most

service members transitioning to civilian status, upgrades career counseling options, and

resume writing skills, as well as ensuring the program is tailored for the 21st Century job


Facilitating Seamless Transition: Allows service members to begin the federal

employment process prior to separation in order to facilitate a truly seamless transition

from the military to jobs at VA, Homeland Security, or other federal agencies.

Expanding Education & Training: Provides 100,000 unemployed veterans of past eras

and wars with up to one year of additional Montgomery GI Bill benefits to qualify for

jobs in high-demand sectors, from trucking to technology. It also provides disabled

veterans up to one year of additional Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment


Translating Military Skills and Training: Requires the Department of Labor to evaluate

what military skills and training should be equivalent in the civilian sector, and will work

to make it easier for veterans to get the licenses and certification for those jobs.

Veterans Tax Credits: Provides tax incentives of up to $5,600 for hiring veterans, and up

to $9,600 for hiring disabled veterans, if the veteran has been looking for work for six

months or longer.

Pending Legislation

H.R. 3329 would amend title 38, United States Code, to extend the eligibility period for

veterans to enroll in certain vocational rehabilitation programs from 12 to 15 years. This is in line

with DAV Resolution No. 222.

H.R. 3279 would amend title 38, United States Code, to add that caregivers for veterans with

“serious illnesses” are also eligible for assistance and support services provided by the Secretary of

Veterans Affairs under its new caregiver program. This bill is in line with DAV Resolution No. 195.

H.R. 3337/S. 1798, the Open Burn Pit Registry Act of 2011, would direct the Secretary of

Veterans Affairs to establish an open burn pit registry to ensure that members of the Armed Forces

who may have been exposed to toxic chemicals and fumes caused by open burn pits while deployed

to Afghanistan or Iraq receive information regarding such exposure. This legislation is related to

DAV Resolution No. 183.

H.R. 3355, the Heroes Hiring Heroes Act of 2011, would direct the Secretary of Veterans

Affairs to establish a grant program to assist veterans with finding employment and to make

permanent and modify the work opportunity tax credit with respect to unemployed veterans. This

bill is in line with DAV Resolution No. 001.

H.R. 812/S. 1629, the Agent Orange Equity Act of 2011 and H.R. 3612, the Blue Water

Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2011, would include, as part of the Republic of Vietnam, its territorial

seas for purposes of the presumption of service connection for diseases associated with exposure by


veterans to certain herbicide agents while in Vietnam. These bills are in line with DAV Resolution

No. 014.

S. 1689, the Veterans Sexual Assault Prevention Act of 2011, would direct the Secretary of

Veterans Affairs to develop and implement, by February 1, 2012, a centralized and comprehensive

policy on reporting and tracking sexual assaults and other safety incidents at each medical facility of

the VA, including: (1) risk-assessment tools; (2) mandatory security training; (3) physical security

precautions (surveillance camera systems and panic alarm systems); (4) criteria and guidance for

employees communicating and reporting incidents to specified supervisory personnel, VA law

enforcement officials, and the Office of Inspector General; (4) an oversight system within the

Veterans Health Administration; (5) procedures for VA law enforcement officials investigating,

tracking, and closing reported incidents; and (6) clinical guidance for treating sexual assaults

reported over 72 hours after assault. This legislation is in line with DAV Resolution No. 193.

S. 1847, the Protect Our Disabled Heroes Act of 2011, would reinstate criminal penalties for

persons charging veterans unauthorized fees for claims representation. This bill has a similar

purpose to DAV Resolution No. 028.

S. 1849, the Rural Veterans Health Care Improvement Act, would require a five-year

strategic plan for the Office of Rural Health of the Veterans Health Administration of the Department

of Veterans Affairs for improving access to, and the quality of, health care services for veterans in

rural areas.

H.R. 1540, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, would address the

following issues as they relate to employment and service disabled veteran owned small businesses:

Sec. 525. Employment Skills Training For Members of the Armed Forces on Active Duty

Who Are Transitioning To Civilian Life, would amend Section 1143 of title 10, United States

Code, so that each of the Service Secretaries may carry out programs to provide military

personnel with job and employment skills training to help prepare them for civilian

employment. To be eligible, service members must have completed at least 180 days on

active duty and expect to be discharged within 180 days of the start of such a program.

Sec. 547. Pilot Program on Receipt of Civilian Credentialing for Skills Required for Military

Occupational Specialties. The Secretary of Defense shall carry out a pilot program assessing

the feasibility of permitting enlisted personnel obtain civilian credentialing or licensing for

skills required for military service specialties. The pilot program would evaluate between

three and five duty specialties through civilian credentialing or licensing entities, institutions,

or bodies selected by the Secretary, whether concurrently with military training, or at the

completion of military training. A report would be provided to Congress not later than one

year after the start of the pilot program on the feasibility of expanding the pilot program.

Sec. 566. Requires comprehensive policy within DOD on retention and disposal of records

of sexual assaults involving members of the Armed Forces. Establishes minimum retention

period of five years for restricted records and up to 50 years for unrestricted records

documenting incidents and medical and forensic examinations.

Sec. 583. Report on Process for Expedited Determination of Disability of Members of the

Armed Forces with Certain Disabling Conditions. The Secretary of Defense, in consultation

with the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, shall, not later than September 1, 2012, submit to


Congress a report assessing the feasibility establishing an expedited disability determination

of both active duty and Reserve personnel who suffer from certain disabling diseases or

conditions. The feasibility report study would evaluate various programs for expedited

determinations of disability that are currently carried out by other departments and agencies

to include the Quick Disability Determination program and the Compassionate Allowances

program of the Social Security Administration. If the process is considered feasible and

advisable, the report shall set recommendations on the legislative and administrative actions


Sec. 1048. Fiscal year 2012 Administration and Report on the Troops-to-Teachers Program.

The Secretary of Defense may administer the Troops-to-Teachers Program during fiscal year

2012. Not later than April 1, 2012, the Secretaries of Defense and Education shall jointly

submit a report to Congress a report on the Troops-to-Teachers Program which includes,

among other things: a summary of program funding since its inception and projected funding

covered by the future-years defense program submitted to Congress in 2011; specifics on

program participants; an assessment of the current and anticipated effects of recent economic

circumstances on obtaining teaching positions, and; an assessment as to fulfilling its purpose

as a military transition assistance program.

Sec. 1088. Improving the Transition of Members of the Armed Forces with Experience in the

Operation of Certain Motor Vehicles into Careers Operating Commercial Motor Vehicles in

the Private Sector. The Secretaries Defense and Transportation shall jointly conduct a study

to identify the legislative and regulatory actions that can be taken to assist both active duty

and former members of the Armed Forces who operated qualifying motor vehicles in

obtaining commercial driver’s licenses. The study will include, among other things:

Identification of any training, qualifications, or experiences of members of the Armed Forces

that satisfy the minimum standards; Identification of the actions the Secretary of Defense can

take to document or modify the training, qualifications, and experiences of such members,

and; assess of the feasibility and advisability of each of the legislative and regulatory actions

identified under the study to establish such a program.

Sec. 5201. Rural and State Outreach. The Small Business Act, sec. 9 (15 U.S.C. 638) is

amended by adding the following: Federal and State Technology Partnership Program

(FAST) Program. The Administrator shall establish a FAST program to strengthen the

technological competitiveness of small business concerns in the States and shall jointly

review, with program managers, proposals and may make awards or enter into cooperative

agreements. Small businesses owned and controlled by service-disabled veterans, among

others, would be eligible to compete for these opportunities.

This bill is in line with DAV Resolution Nos. 171 and 217. H.R. 1540 passed the House on

Wednesday, December 14, 2011, and passed the Senate on Thursday, December 15, 2011. It will

now be sent to the President.


All DAV testimony can be read in full on our DAV website, at:


On November 15, 2011, DAV testified before the House Veterans' Affairs Committee

concerning minimizing inefficiency, duplication and waste within the VA.


On December 2, 2011, DAV testified before the House Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on

Health concerning suicide prevention efforts within the VA.

Virtual Chat a Success

More than 10,000 Facebook users viewed or sent in questions during a live chat session with

Executive Director Barry Jesinoski on November 10, just before the nation observed Veterans Day.

Questions and comments ranged from asking about the possible impact of the federal budget crisis to

the lengthy waits veterans are experiencing in trying to obtain mental health care from the VA.

Another live chat will be scheduled soon.

New Web Content Weekly

Beginning in October 2011, the DAV legislative staff began adding content weekly on

subjects of interest to members. Some will require action from our DAV Commander’s Action

Network (CAN) and others will be used to keep you informed of progress on various issues before

Congress and the Administration. Please check http://capwiz.com/dav/home/ regularly to stay

informed on legislative issues and actions.


To ensure the successful enactment of the legislation that we support, our DAV and

Auxiliary members must become active members of DAV’s grassroots—DAV CAN—and all of us

must do our part to let our elected officials know about our support for legislation that builds better

lives for our nation’s service-disabled veterans, their families and their survivors. In the new year,

please make a pledge to redouble your efforts to communicate our concerns to your elected officials.

Your efforts and actions are a key to our success.

Thank you for again for all your support during 2011.


National Legislative Director



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Last modified at 12/30/2011 3:58 PM  by Nv Webmaster 

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