Veterans deserve the very best

Our veterans should always get the very best their country can give them. That’s why we’re pleased to see that the U.S. Senate unanimously approved measures authored by Sen. Mazie K. Hirono to continue critical programs that address veterans homelessness, provide nursing home care for disabled Hawaii veterans, and keep open the Department of Veterans Affairs office in Manila.

Without Congressional action, these programs would begin to expire on Sept. 30, affecting over 1,000 Hawaii veterans.

And that, simply put, is unacceptable.

“Hawaii veterans earned benefits and health care through their service to our country, and these critical programs shouldn’t be subjected to arbitrary deadlines for expiration,” Hirono said. “With the passage of this wide-ranging bill, Hawaii organizations and nursing homes will have certainty that they can continue their important work to serve veterans and their families.”

H.R. 3819, the Department of Veterans Affairs Expiring Authorities Act, includes Senator Hirono’s Keeping Our Commitment to Ending Veteran Homelessness Act, which renews six VA and Department of Labor programs that provide outreach and services to homeless veterans and their families:

• Healthcare for Homeless Veterans: Conducts outreach to homeless veterans, provides care and treatment for medical, psychiatric, and substance use disorders, and refers veterans for supportive services.

• Grants and Per Diem: Allows VA to award grants to community-based agencies to create transitional housing programs and offer per diem payments. GPD Special Needs funding assists with operating costs of services for special need groups such as women, chronically mental ill, and those with minor dependents.

• Supportive Services for Veteran Families: Funds grants for supportive services to assist very low-income veterans and their families who are either residing in permanent housing or transitioning from homelessness.

• Advisory Committee on Homeless Veterans: Provides advice to the VA secretary on benefits and services the VA gives to homeless veterans.

• Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program: Provides services to veterans including outreach, assistance in interview preparation, job search, job training, and follow-up assistance after placement.

• Incarcerated Veterans Transition Program: Provides job training and placement services to veterans who are leaving prison.

H.R. 3819 also includes Hirono’s bill to renew expiring laws requiring the VA to provide nursing home care to disabled veterans (S. 683), including nearly 350 in Hawaii, and her bill to keep the VA Regional Office and Outpatient Clinic in Manila, Philippines open for business (S. 1635). By extending the VA’s authority to operate its Regional Office in Manila, Philippines, Senator Hirono’s provisions will protect benefits for approximately 6,000 patients currently served through its Outpatient Clinic.

The Department of Veterans Affairs Expiring Authorities Act will now go to President Trump and we are confident he will do the right thing and sign it.

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