CRAMER: Veterans Bills Expedite Benefits Claims, Increase Employment Opportunities
Listen to Audio on the WINGMAN Act Here
Listen to Audio on the BRAVE Act Here
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Feb. 13, 2017
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Kevin Cramer supported several bills passed by the House of Representatives today to assist veterans in expediting benefit claims and increasing employment opportunities. They include the following:
H.R. 512, the WINGMAN Act, enables Congressional staff handling casework for veterans to have “read only” access to their records in the databases, with the permission of the veterans. This enables staff, who are already certified to access these records, to bypass the step of having to use the Veterans Administration (VA) as an intermediator to receive them.
Each year, thousands of constituents turn to Members of Congress with a wide range of requests, from the simple to the complex. Members and their staffs help constituents deal with administrative agencies by acting as facilitators, ombudsmen, and, in some cases, advocates. In addition to serving individual constituents, some Congressional offices also consider as casework liaison activities between the federal government and local governments, businesses, communities, and nonprofit organizations.
Cramer said this bill helps Congressional offices assist veterans with their issues. “Our nation’s veterans deserve prompt attention when filing claims to collect benefits they have rightfully earned through service,” he said. “Too often, prolonged periods of time pass before Congressional offices are able to obtain requested documents from the VA to assist veterans with pending claims. The WINGMAN Act ensures veterans receive care in a timely manner, while keeping their personal information private and protected.”
H.R. 244, the Honoring Investments in Recruiting and Employing American Military Veterans or HIRE Vets Act, requires the Department of Labor (DOL) to establish the HIRE Vets Medallion Program to annually recognize private and public sector businesses for their efforts to employ veterans.
DOL would make awards to employers on a voluntary basis who recruit, employ, and retain veterans, and provide community and charitable services supporting the veteran community. Employers would earn either platinum or gold status based on requirements related to the number of veterans hired each year, if they provide pay equity for Guardsmen and Reserve employees who were called up to active military service, and if certain other requirements are met.
Cramer said with veterans accounting for seven percent of the civilian labor force, this bill provides a constructive way to recognize businesses that make significant efforts to hire and retain veterans. “This bill is a win-win for both veterans and employers,” he said. “It is one way we can encourage veterans to connect with employers who are eager to hire them.”
H.R. 974, the Boosting Rates of American Veteran Employment or BRAVE Act, allows the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs to give preference to government contractors employing veterans on a full-time basis when awarding procurement contracts for good or services. It also allows the VA Secretary to debar contractors who purposely misrepresent their employment of veterans to receive a contract.
Cramer said a major problem for returning veterans, especially those serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, is finding civilian employment, and the unemployment rate among post-9/11 veterans is higher than the national average.
“This bill is designed to boost employment rates among these veterans by rewarding companies that hire them,” Cramer said. “Veterans bring many positive skills to the workforce and hiring them should be a reward in and of itself. However, this bill offers an additional incentive for business involved in competing with other companies for contracts with the federal government.”