October 20, 2021

House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Holds Hearing on Two Bipartisan Bills from Rep. Levin to Support Veterans

Washington, D.C. – Today, the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs held a hearing on two bipartisan bills from Rep. Mike Levin (D-CA) to support veterans. The Commitment to Veteran Support and Outreach (CVSO) Act authorizes federal funding to hire more county veterans service officers, who are often the best resource on the ground to assist veterans in securing the benefits they have earned. The Mark O’Brien VA Clothing Allowance Improvement Act helps veterans replace clothing that is routinely damaged by prosthetics, orthopedic devices, or skin medicines they need as a result of active-duty injuries.

“Far too often, veterans do not receive the benefits they have earned because of red tape and complicated VA processes, and we have a responsibility to fix that,” said Rep. Levin. “By hiring more county veterans service officers who interact directly with our local veterans every day, we can help make sure they are receiving all of the benefits they deserve. And by streamlining the VA’s clothing allowance program, we can ensure veterans are never on the hook for clothing damaged by their service-connected prosthetics, orthopedic devices, or skin medicines. These are commonsense, bipartisan bills to make sure veterans receive the benefits they’ve earned, and I’m hopeful we can advance both bills soon.”

Many veterans are not utilizing their earned benefits because of lack of information or ability to complete necessary paperwork. To reduce this underutilization and increase promotion of services, the CVSO Act strengthens county veterans service officers’ efforts to conduct outreach and provide support to underserved veterans, which can improve overall health and wellness. The bill would authorize $50 million annually for five years for competitive grants to expand the work of county veterans service officers (CVSOs) or comparable entities. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will award grants to states in order to improve outreach to veterans, assist in the development and submittal of claims on behalf of veterans, hire additional CVSOs, and train CVSOs for VA accreditation. To receive funds, a state must submit an application including a detailed plan for the use of these funds, how they will meet underserved veterans’ needs, and other information. A fact sheet is available here.

The CVSO Act is endorsed by the City of San Diego, San Diego Military Advisory Council, National Association of County Veterans Service Officers, National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs, and the National Association of Counties. Hearing testimony from VA, Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), and Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) also expressed support for the bill.

The Mark O’Brien VA Clothing Allowance Improvement Act bill would amend an existing VA clothing allowance program by enabling payments to continue on an automatically recurring annual basis until the veteran elects to no longer receive payments or VA determines the veteran is no longer eligible. Currently, a veteran must provide a clothing allowance form to their local VA medical center annually, an unnecessarily burdensome process for those who have a lifelong condition that requires a device or medicine which damages their clothing. A fact sheet is available here.

The Mark O’Brien VA Clothing Allowance Improvement Act is endorsed by the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), Army Aviation Association of America (AAAA), Blinded Veterans Association (BVA), The Retired Enlisted Association (TREA), and the USCG Chief Petty Officers Association (CPOA). Hearing testimony from VA also expressed support for the bill.