BREAKING: Takano, Roe, Tester, Moran Statement on House Passage of Groundbreaking Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Bill, Congressional Veterans’ Affairs leaders’ top legislative priority—connecting veterans with life-saving mental health care—heads to President’s desk
Tester Spearheads Senate Call to Ensure his Landmark Agent Orange Exposure Bill is Included in Final Annual Defense Bill
TAKE ACTION: Please ask your member of Congress to support Tester/Harder amendment in the FY 2021 National Defense Authorization Act
Senate VA Committee Advances Two Bills to Expand Veteran Benefits
Lawmakers question VA approach on burn pits, advance bill to help military toxic exposure victims
VA notifies Veterans of compromised personal information https://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=5519
Vietnam Veterans of America is A Not-For-Profit Veterans Service Organization Chartered by the United States Congress
A Message From VVA Montana State Council President
Montana State Council August 18, 2020
In these trying times there have been several changes caused by the Covid 19 pandemic, not only in our own state and our local communities but also at the VVA national level. On Saturday, July 18th, I took part in a conference call that consisted of the National Officers, the Board of Directors and the State Council Presidents. I will try and share with you what most of these changes are.
- The main source of revenue for VVA National comes from the Household Goods Program. This program fell victim to the Covid 19 pandemic thus eliminating this revenue. The program is attempting to slowly reopen in some states but there are several obstacles the program has to overcome.
- The loss of this revenue has forced VVA National to reevaluate the daily operation in the office. One of the consequences of this was the layoffs of 14 employees and thus having the remaining employees to do the work of themselves and another desk. National is hopeful of having a complete reorganization in place by September. So until that takes place you are asked to try and refrain from calling National because you may not be able to have your questions answered in a timely manner.
- The State Council Presidents meeting in Silver Spring in April was cancelled due to the pandemic. Additionally the Leadership Training Scheduled for July in Dayton Ohio was also cancelled. The State Council Presidents meeting in October 2020 and January 2021 have been cancelled. The meetings scheduled for April 2021 and the National Convention schedules for next summer are in limbo at this time. There is no re-imburseable expenses until further notice.
- The Life Membership Dues for each chapter and state council have been paid in the amount of 1/3 of what each chapter would have received. As things settle down National plans on paying the remaining 2/3’s over September and October.
- In another cost cutting endeavor the VVA Veteran magazine is now going to be totally electronic. National has asked that each member go to www.vva.org/publications and sign up to receive the VVA Veteran on line. This change was necessitated by the revenue crisis National is faced with.
If you have questions regarding National or just need further explanations on the information I have shared with you feel free to reach out to me and I will answer them or get an answer. My contact information is 406-600-4442 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I don’t anticipate an in person State Council meeting in October. More information will be forthcoming. Be careful and stay safe.
Chuck Renevier Montana State Council President
Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Passes Pending Legislation
Today, Wednesday, August 5, 2020, the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Chair Jerry Moran, R-Kan and Ranking Minority Member Jon Tester-D-MT, passed the following 12 legislative bills out of committee and 2 were withdrawn by members.
1. S. 3282 (Cassidy/Tester) Protecting Business Opportunities for Veterans Act of 2020. Passed
2. S. 2558 (Sinema/Cramer) Nursing Home Care for Native American Veterans Act; A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to make certain grants to assist nursing homes for veterans located on tribal lands. Passed
3. S. 3643 (Loeffler/Sinema/Blackburn) VA Mission Telehealth Clarification Act. Passed
4. S.2950 (Sullivan/Manchin/Tillis/Rounds/Boozman) Veterans Burn Pits Exposure Recognition Act of 2019 (Committee Print); A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to concede exposure to airborne hazards and toxins from burn pits under certain circumstances, and for other purposes. Passed
5. S. 4384 (Sullivan/Blumenthal) K2 Toxic Exposure Study; A bill to require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to address exposure by members of the Armed Forces to toxic substances at Karshi-Khanabad Air Base, Uzbekistan, and for other purposes. Passed
6. S. 4393 (Tillis) Toxic Exposure in the American Military Act of 2020 (Committee Print); A bill to improve the provision of health care and other benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs for veterans who were exposed to toxic substances, and for other purposes. Withdrawn
7. S. 711 (Tester/Moran) CARE for Reservists Act of 2019. Passed
8. S. 332 (Blumenthal) Agent Orange Exposure Fairness Act of 2019 (Committee Print); A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to remove the manifestation period required for the presumptions of service connection for chloracne, porphyria cutanea tarda, and acute and subacute peripheral neuropathy associated with exposure to certain herbicide agents, and for other purposes. VVA AO-17 Convention Resolution. Recognition was given by Senator Blumenthal-CT to VVA member Gerry Wright-CT for his hard work on the bill during the hearing as the bill Passed.
9. S. 805 (Tester/Boozman/Brown/Blumenthal) Veterans Debt Fairness Act (Committee Print); A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the processing of veterans benefits by the Department of Veterans Affairs, to limit the authority of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to recover overpayments made by the Department and other amounts owed by veterans to the United States, to improve the due process accorded veterans with respect to such recovery, and for other purposes. Passed
10. S. 514 (Tester/Boozman) The Deborah Sampson Act (Committee Print) – Passed
11. S. 629 (Tester/Murray/Blumenthal/Brown) Accountability in Department of Veterans Affairs Scheduling and Consult Management Act (Committee Print) – Passed
12. S. 2216 (Peters/Blackburn) TEAM Veteran Caregiver Act (Committee Print); A bill to require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to formally recognize caregivers of veterans, notify veterans and caregivers of clinical determinations relating to eligibility for caregiver programs, and temporarily extend benefits for veterans who are determined ineligible for the family caregiver program, and for other purposes. Passed
13. S.____ (Moran/Tester/Boozman/Rounds/Sinema/Tillis/Daines/Peters/Wyden/ Lankford/Carper) Veteran Benefits Enhancement and Expansion Act of 2020. Withdrawn
14. S. 3235 (McSally/Kaine) Veterans Posttraumatic Growth Act – Passed
$5.5 Million Grant to Assist Montana Homeless Veterans
Tester Secures More Than $5.5 Million to Assist Montana Homeless Veterans
Senator announces federal funding for Volunteers of America Northern Rockies
(Big Sandy, Montana) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester announced more than $5.5 million in federal funding to help end veteran homelessness in Montana.
The $5,547,842 grant will go to the Volunteers of America Northern Rockies (VOA), a service organization based out of Billings. Since 2012, VOA has worked with hundreds of veterans and their families to help provide housing services for homeless and at-risk veterans.
“Year after year, the Volunteers of America Northern Rockies consistently do their part in helping Montana’s men and women in uniform transition to civilian life,” said Tester. “This is especially important now, with some veterans and their families struggling to find safe housing during the pandemic. These federal funds are an important investment in our state’s veterans, and will help thousands of folks get back on their feet.”
The award is a portion of the more than $400 million Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) grant administered by the VA. In fiscal year 2019, SSVF assisted more than 105,100 participants, including 70,500 veterans and 20,600 children.
As Ranking Member of the Senate Veteran’s Affairs Committee, Tester fought to include key provisions and funds in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to enable the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide additional support for vulnerable veterans—including programs to assist homeless veterans or those at-risk of becoming homeless. He also called on VA Secretary Robert Wilkie to implement these authorities quickly and efficiently, to provide much needed relief to veterans and their families.