Maloney, Denham Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Aid Disabled Veterans
Washington — Representatives Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) and Jeff Denham (CA-10) introduced a bill to ensure that the Veterans Administration (VA) is taking the best possible care of disabled veterans. The Appropriate Care for Disabled Veterans Act extends a mandate, previously signed into law, that the VA report to Congress its capacity for the specialized treatment and rehabilitative needs of disabled veterans.
“As the son of a Navy veteran who was injured while serving our country, I know how critical it can be for our veterans to receive the best possible care when they come home,” said Rep. Maloney. “This commonsense bill will ensure we hold the VA accountable for doing their job and delivering on their promise – providing top-notch comprehensive and specialized care for our veterans who have sacrificed so much in defense of our freedoms.”
“The number of disabled veterans nationwide has been increasing at an alarming rate,” said Rep. Denham. “This common-sense bill requires the VA to provide the comprehensive care they so clearly deserve.”
"VA is currently not required to tell Congress how or if it has adequate capacity to provide care for catastrophically disabled veterans,” said Carl Blake, Associate Executive Director of Government Relations at Paralyzed Veterans of America. “In the eight years since the report’s expiration bed closures, staff shortages, and denied access to care have been continuously reported. Reinstating this report will provide Congress with the information necessary to conduct thorough oversight of VA specialized services. This is a high priority for PVA and we applaud Reps. Denham and Maloney for taking up such a critical issue."
Severely disabled veterans suffer from a range of issues – spinal cord injury/dysfunction (SCI/D); blindness; traumatic brain injury (TBI); or mental health disorders. They require specialized care, including prosthetic, orthotic and sensory aids. To ensure their needs were met, in 1996 Congress mandated that the VA maintain its capacity for the specialized treatment and rehabilitative needs of disabled veterans based on a number of specific measurements. For spinal cord injuries in particular, this capacity was to be measured by the number of staffed beds and the number of full-time employee equivalents available to provide care. The VA was also required to report this information to Congress after it was reviewed by the VA’s Office of the Inspector General. This reporting requirement has since lapsed. This bill reinstates the requirement and encourages the VA to fulfill President Lincoln's promise “To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan' by serving and honoring the men and women who are America's Veterans.”
Rep. Maloney has a track record of getting things done for Hudson Valley veterans despite Washington gridlock. In 2013, Rep. Maloney’s Disabled Veterans Red Tape Reduction Act was signed into law, which helped to address the Veterans Administration (VA)’s backlog of disability claims. In December 2015, Rep. Maloney’s Wounded Warrior Employment Improvement Act was signed into law to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) program, the key employment program to help assist, train and find jobs for veterans who have compensable service-connected disabilities. Last month, Rep. Maloney introduced bipartisan legislation to cut through red tape and automatically forgive students loans for eligible disabled veterans. The bipartisan Disabled Veterans Student Loan Protection Act would increase interagency communication and cooperation in order to reduce the burden placed on our veterans to ensure their federal student loans are discharged, a benefit already entitled to veterans with a total and permanent disability (TPD) or a 100 percent service-connected disability.
Since joining Congress, Rep. Maloney has secured over $3 million in guaranteed benefits for more than 800 Hudson Valley veterans and their family members who were owed education, disability, retirement, medical, burial, spousal and dependents’ compensation. Rep. Maloney has also hosted four veterans resources and jobs fairs with dozens of local veterans organizations, and has secured over 129 service medals, including 3 Bronze Star Medals and 3 Purple Hearts.