WASHINGTON, DC –Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), a senior member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and first Ohioan to serve a full term on the Committee, announced that several key pieces legislation he originally sponsored has passed the Committee. Elements of Brown’s State Veterans Home Homelessness Act and Veterans Services Outreach Act were incorporated into the Veterans Health Care Eligibility and Enhancement Act of 2013, which was passed today by the Committee. The combined package also extends the enrollment time window for healthcare benefits for active duty, Reserve, and Guard servicemembers from five to 10 years following deployment.
“Improving the lives of our nation’s veterans must be a top priority,” Brown said. “It is unacceptable that Ohio veterans who selflessly served our country have to wait to receive the compensation they deserve. This legislation will provide additional resources to help serve those who have served us.”
Brown and U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (OH-9) introduced the State Veteran Home Homelessness Act to help keep Ohio veterans off the streets by ensuring additional resources to the State Veterans Homes, similar to the one located in Sandusky. The bill would benefit State veterans homes by expanding eligibility for VA homelessness grants allowing for more resources to be given to help veterans get off the street and back on their feet.
In August, Brown traveled the State to build support for his Veterans Services Outreach Act, legislation that would help reduce the disability claims backlog. The Act would require the VA to notify veterans filing claims electronically that they can receive help and important time-saving information from local VA approved resources.
The committee also passed Brown’s legislation to allow for collective bargaining for Title 38 employees in the Veterans Health Administration. Currently, VA registered nurses and medical professionals are prohibited from collectively bargaining to negotiate routine pay issues, such as overtime pay and performance pay. Brown’s bill would lift that prohibition and provide workers with rights to negotiate on these issues.
Brown is the only Ohio Senator to serve a full term on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and is Co-Chair of the Senate Air Force Caucus.