by Kristina Derro
Veterans Disability Attorney
On May 25, 2011, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced the Honoring All Veterans Act of 2011, which seeks to improve aid and services to veterans in the areas of employment, housing, education, and health care. The Act aims at aiding veterans who are seeking education and employment by increasing the number of participants in independent living programs that allow veterans to participate in family and community life, increasing their potential to return to work. It will also provide funding for outreach on college campuses to help veterans maximize their ability to study and gain employment.
The Act authorizes the Department of Defense (DoD) to study how to ensure that civilian employers and educational institutions recognize veterans’ military training and qualifications—transferring the certificates and licensed skills from the military to civilian jobs would ensure that the training that occurred during service was not lost for veterans returning to the civilian workplace. It also authorizes that veterans can use the DoD’s Transition Assistance Program and meet with counselors at any military installation for up to one year after leaving service to receive information about job hunting, education options, and career development.
To address the rising amount of homeless veterans that is estimated to be 76,000 in 2009, the Honoring All Veterans Act provides services to military families who are on the verge of losing their home by permanently extending their foreclosure protection. The Act will also raise the per diem rate that certain programs give out, in an effort to take into account the geographic disparities around the nation.
The Honoring All Veterans Act attempts to deal with the health care shortcomings in the treatment of veterans. The Act authorizes VA to access state prescription drug monitoring programs in order to address substance abuse. It also allows military family members to access VA counseling services while a service member is deployed, and it directs the VA to improve rehabilitation and reintegration plans that address long term care for veterans with traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). The overall goal of the Act is to modernize the VA—to streamline the transition from active service to veteran status for service members, to have a responsive Board of Veterans Appeals handling disability claims, and to be constantly updating pension amounts to reflect the cost of living.