WASHINGTON, D.C. – Three bills cosponsored by U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) were agreed to by the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and advanced in the Senate.
“All of our nation’s veterans deserve quality medical care and a place to call home,” Brown said. “I’m pleased to see these initiatives move forward and urge my colleagues in Congress to vote these important bills into law.”
HOLDING U.S. DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS EMPLOYEES ACCOUNTABLE
The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs passed a variation of the Department of Veterans Affairs Equitable Employee Accountability Act of 2015 – legislation cosponsored by Brown that would allow the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) improve accountability by addressing poor performance and improving management training. The committee-passed bill, the Increasing the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability to Veterans Act of 2015, would also reduce retirement benefits of senior VA executives who are convicted of a felony related to their job performance.
ENDING VETERANS’ HOMELESSNESS
The Veteran Housing Stability Act of 2015 would increase veterans’ access to permanent housing options by encouraging landlords to rent to veterans, expanding the definition of “homeless veteran” – so more veterans, including those facing domestic abuse, can access housing assistance – providing grants for organizations that support formerly homeless veterans, and advancing research into homelessness. According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, about 12 percent of the adult homeless population is comprised of veterans. A variation of this bill was agreed to by the committee and an outline of the original bill can be found here.
PREVENTING DEATHS FROM OPIOID ADDICTION
The Jason Simcakoski Memorial Opioid Safety Act would provide safer and more effective pain management services to our nation’s veterans to help prevent deaths from unintended opioid drug overdoses. The bill would improve the VA’s opioid prescribing guidelines to prevent dangerous combinations of prescription opioids with other drugs, and increase coordination and communication between medical facilities, providers, patients, and their families surrounding pain management, alternative treatments for chronic pain, and appropriate opioid therapy. The bill is named for U.S. Marine Veteran Jason Simcakoski, who died at a Wisconsin VA facility in August 2013 as a result of mixed drug toxicity. A variation of this bill was agreed to by the committee and an outline of the original bill can be found here.