On October 18, the Veterans Benefits Act of 2010 was signed into law by President Obama. The act, also known as H.R. 3219, enhances current VA benefits to better serve veterans.
“This new law is the result of numerous productive hearing and markups, meaningful oversight and bi-partisan compromise – all to ensure that those who were willing to lay down their lives for our country and their families and survivors, receive meaningful, world class 21st Century benefits,” Bob Filner, chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said in a news release. “These improvements will make a big difference in the lives of many of America’s brave veterans.”
Under the new law, the VA will enhance the current benefits it provides with:
• The re-creation of the VA work-study program
• Increased loan guarantee amount for the Veterans’ Mortgage Life Insurance program
• Increased automobile allowance for disabled veterans
• Protection from job loss due to extended leave and/ or scheduling conflicts under the Uniformed Service Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)
• Two years of coverage from Service Members’ Group Life Insurance for 100% disabled veterans after separation from active duty or reserve duty
The Veterans Benefits Act of 2010 will also increase support for both male and female homeless veterans as well as homeless veterans with children. The Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program will aid in integrating homeless veterans into the labor force, and will award grants to programs that provide job training, counseling, and childcare to homeless female veterans and those with children.
The acceptance of H.R. 3219 has been the most recent addition to the long list of achievements made on behalf of America’s veterans by the 111th Congress this year. Other veterans’ legislation that passed this year include the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2010, the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Heath Services Act of 2010, and increased support for veterans exposed to Agent Orange.
The Veterans’ Homelessness Prevention and Early Warning Act of 2010 was also introduced to alleviate the number of veterans facing foreclosure on their VA home loan. The VA home loan program which already offers home loans with zero money down, competitive interest rates, and flexible mortgage terms, would further aid veterans under the new act by offering warnings prior to loan default and alternative housing options should the borrower be unable to afford their mortgage.
“I am privileged to work with the Members of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee who set an aggressive agenda and stood together to ensure that the costs of the war include the cost of the warrior,” stated Congressman Filner. “They have truly shown love and compassion to America’s veterans evidenced by their hair work to keep the promises made to our Nation’s heroes of the past, present, and future.”