Several veteran-related bills passed in the U.S. House of Representatives this week including the HIRE Vets Act and the Veterans TRICARE Choice Act. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, a former Bernie Sanders surrogate who resigned from her position as vice-chair of the DNC in order to support Sanders’ presidential campaign, announced her pleasure on Twitter that two bills that she heavily supported passed the house through a bi-partisan effort.
H.R. 5458, the Veterans TRICARE Choice Act, would allow those who are automatically eligible for TRICARE, the health benefits program serving members of the military, to choose to temporarily opt out of TRICARE in order to contribute to health savings accounts (HSAs). This opportunity can be beneficial because, HSA contributions are tax-advantageous.
“As a soldier and a veteran, I have seen firsthand the tremendous sacrifice our veterans and their families make in service to our country,” Gabbard said, as reported in a press release from Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) who introduced the bill to the house in a joint effort with Gabbard. “That service should never have a limiting effect on a veteran’s healthcare options. Yet right now, veterans have to opt out of TRICARE permanently to access other health care options. This legislation rightly gives our veterans the ability to choose the best healthcare options for themselves and their families.”
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard was also excited to announce the passage of H.R.3286, which she co-sponsored. That bill, the Honoring Investments in Recruiting and Employing American Military Veterans Act of 2016, also known as the “HIRE Vets Act,” would require the Department of Labor to recognize employers’ efforts seek out and hire veterans.
Additional bills passed this week that benefit veterans as well. For example, H.R. 5600, as amended, passed the House. It’s known as the No Hero Left Untreated Act. This bill, if passed, would require the Department of Veterans Affairs to create a pilot program that will treat veterans with PTSD, chronic pain, TBI, military sexual trauma, and drug addiction.
The house also passed H.R. 4757. It would require the VA to provide a headstone, marker, or medallion for all Medal of Honor recipients when they are buried at private cemeteries. Additionally, it would have the VA send a Presidential Memorial Certificate to the families of deceased veterans.
Tulsi Gabbard’s Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act also passed in the House of Representatives this week. Gabbard hoped to ensure that after several decades, the 260,000 Filipino and Filipino-American veterans of World War II will finally be recognized. That bill is headed to President Obama’s desk. Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, chairman of the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project, commented on the passage of the bill through Congress, NextShark reported.
“Now we can tell our veterans with pride in our hearts that this grateful nation has, at last, granted them recognition for the selfless sacrifice they endured in war, and restored their dignity and honor in service to their nation.”
H.R. 3471, the Veterans Mobility Safety Act, also passed the house this week. It already made it through the senate and is now only waiting on President Obama’s signature. This bill would make the VA create a comprehensive policy establishing “standards for providers who dispense modification services to veterans under the Automobile Adaptive Equipment Program,” according to a press release. It would also allow the VA to hire and create qualifications for hiring hearing aid specialists.
As Gabbard celebrated the passage of the veteran bills that she had been fighting for, she also took to the house floor to call on President Obama to halt the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline through unceded Sioux land.
Gabbard, an Iraq veteran who currently holds the rank of major in the Hawaii Army National Guard, is set to join around 2,000 fellow veterans near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation on Sunday to act as a human shield for the water protectors opposing the pipeline.
[Featured Image by Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo]