Representative Levin’s Three Bipartisan Bills Supporting Veterans Pass House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. – Today, three bipartisan bills led by U.S. Representative Mike Levin (D-CA) to support veterans’ transition to civilian life, improve veterans’ economic resources, and expand veterans’ access to mental health services passed the House of Representatives. Representative Levin’s remarks on those bills can be seen here.
The passed legislation includes:
- The Vet Center Eligibility Expansion Act of 2019, which Representative Levin introduced with Representative Phil Roe, M.D. (R-TN) to expand the eligibility to receive counseling from VA Vet Centers to members of the National Guard and Reserves or Coast Guard who served during emergency situations in the wake of a national emergency, major disaster, civil disorder, or drug interdiction operation.
- The Navy SEAL Chief Petty Officer William "Bill" Mulder (Ret.) Transition Improvement Act of 2019, a bill Representative Levin introduced with Representative Jodey Arrington (R-TX) to improve the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) for servicemembers returning to civilian life.
- The Veterans’ Education, Transition, and Opportunity Prioritization Plan (VET OPP) Act of 2019, which Representative Levin introduced with Representative Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) to prioritize veterans' employment, transition, housing, and education benefits at VA.
See below for a transcript of Representative Levin’s remarks on the legislation or click here for video:
Madam Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 1812, the Vet Center Eligibility Expansion Act.
Madam Speaker, I was proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation with my friend from Tennessee and Ranking Member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Dr. Roe.
We must do more to address the epidemic of suicide among veterans in this country, and we can start by ensuring all servicemembers have the mental health support they need.
Currently, most National Guard, Coast Guard, and reserve servicemembers are precluded from receiving readjustment counseling services at Vet Centers.
Guardsmen and reservists often face emotionally challenging deployments to natural disasters, drug interdiction missions, national emergencies, or civil disorders that can have serious mental health consequences.
This bipartisan legislation is an important step in closing the mental health care gap for those servicemembers, who compose four of the twenty veteran suicides we see each day in this country.
As we continue to see veterans turn to suicide – often on the grounds of VA facilities – we must have an all-hands-on-deck approach, and this bill can play a critical role in this effort.
I yield back.
Madam Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 2326, the Navy Seal Chief Petty Officer William Bill Mulder (Retired) Transition Improvement Act of 2019.
Madam Speaker, I was proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation with my friend from Texas, Mr. Jodey Arrington.
Mr. Arrington was a friend of Mr. Mulder’s and represents his hometown of Plainview, Texas.
William Mulder, or Bill as his friends knew him, passed away nearly two years ago on June 9, 2017.
He was a decorated Navy SEAL of 20 years whose awards include three Bronze Stars with Valor. He was also a father, husband, brother, and friend.
This legislation honors him by better equipping servicemembers for the challenges and opportunities they will face as they transition from active duty military service to civilian life.
Far too often, the men and women of our Armed Forces lack the support and coordinated resources they need to return to civilian life, and we cannot leave them behind.
We owe it to those who have served and their families to ensure that they have everything they need to connect with community organizations, pursue educational opportunities, launch new careers, or start their own businesses.
That’s why we must improve the Transition Assistance Program.
This bill would extend a pilot program for off-base transition training, allowing veterans and their spouses more time and convenience to digest and access resources.
It would also create a grant program for organizations to provide multiple transition assistance services such as resume assistance, interview training, and job recruitment training from a central source.
We can also improve the program by expanding access to better employment data at the Departments of Labor and Veterans Affairs, which this bill does.
And finally, it’s important that we are constantly evaluating the effectiveness of the Transition Assistance Program, which is why this bill would require a one-year independent assessment and five-year study of the program.
We have a solemn duty to ensure that our nation’s heroes are able to readily access the best possible services when it comes time to transition back to civilian life.
I do not believe that we are living up to that duty right now, but this bipartisan bill will help change that, and I strongly encourage my colleagues to vote in support today.
Thank you again to my friend Mr. Arrington and to our original cosponsors Cisneros, my Ranking Member of the Economic Opportunity Subcommittee Mr. Bilirakis, Mr. Cunningham and Ms. Lee.
Together, we can do more than pay lip service to our veterans, we can give them the support and resources they have earned and deserve.
And with that, I yield back.
Madam Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 2045, the Veterans’ Education, Transition, and Opportunity Prioritization Plan, or VET OPP, Act of 2019.
Madam Speaker, I was proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation with my friend from Ohio, Mr. Wenstrup.
We have a responsibility to provide America’s servicemembers with the best possible resources and opportunities as they transition back to civilian life, and we must do more to meet that responsibility.
Education, employment, housing, and transition assistance programs are critical to veterans’ economic success, but many veterans aren’t receiving these opportunities because of bureaucratic red tape at the VA.
These programs are currently lumped with compensation programs under the Veterans Benefits Administration.
As Chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Economic Opportunity Subcommittee, one of my top priorities is ensuring that veterans are receiving their benefits as efficiently as possible, and it is clear that the current structure at the VA isn’t meeting this need.
This bipartisan bill will allow us to deliver economic resources more effectively by creating a new Economic Opportunity and Transition Administration at the VA and bringing more oversight and accountability to economic programs for veterans.
I strongly urge my colleagues to support this bipartisan legislation.
And with that, I yield back.