BREAKING: President Signs Important Veterans Reform Bill Into Law
The Ohio Veterans and Fraternal Charitable Coalition (OVFCC) applaud Congress and President Obama for passing, and signing, the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014. This legislation addresses issues that are important to the care of our veterans and their families both in Ohio and across the United States. The act addresses many of the veteran’s issues that the OVFCC has worked tirelessly to address though charitable initiatives. These issues include equality, education, health and safety, and quality of life.
Specifically the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014 will provide the following benefits:
Sexual Assault, Harassment, and Incompetent Senior Officials
The legislation would improve the delivery of care for veterans who experienced sexual trauma while serving in the military. In addition, the VA secretary would be given the authority to immediately remove incompetent senior executives based on poor job performance or misconduct such as sexual harassment. An expedited appeals process through the Merit Systems Protection Board would prevent political firings or other abuses of the new personnel power, such as retaliation against whistle blowers.
Bolster VA Staffing
The legislation would provide the VA funds to hire additional primary and specialty health care providers along with other clinical staff to increase the department’s capacity to provide high-quality health care to our nation’s veterans. The measure also would provide enhanced incentives to attract more doctors and nurses and other health care professionals to the VA. The VA’s Access to Care Audit found that the need for additional doctors, nurses and other medical providers was the highest barrier or challenge to access to care.
Add Space for Veterans Care
The VA’s physical infrastructure plays a significant role in its ability to provide timely, quality care to veterans in a safe environment. The legislation would provide funds to enter emergency leases for facilities that would directly improve veterans’ access to care.
Authorize New Clinics
The legislation would authorize VA to enter into 27 major medical facility leases in 18 states and Puerto Rico. In many instances, these leases would improve access to care closer to veterans’ homes and increase the availability of specialty-care services in these locations.
Veterans Choice Card
The legislation would allow veterans who have had to wait more than 30 days for an appointment with the VA to seek care from a private physician, a community health center, a Department of Defense health care facility or an Indian Health Center. Veterans who live more than 40 miles from a VA facility also would be eligible for this program.
The legislation would expand the Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship to include surviving spouses of members of the Armed Forces who die in the line of duty while serving on active duty.
In-State Tuition for Post-9/11 GI Bill
The legislation would let veterans eligible for education benefits under the Post 9/11 GI qualify for in-state tuition.
The bill would extend a program about to expire which provides housing for veterans struggling with traumatic brain injuries.
For more information, click here for the official American Legion response, and here for the VFW response.