Keeping Our Promises to Our Nation’s Veterans
Congress has no higher priority than taking care of the brave men and women who have served in our armed forces. The debt owed to the men and women who have fought for our country is immeasurable. Without their sacrifices – and the sacrifices of their families – we would not live as freely as we do. The Obama Administration and a bipartisan majority in Congress has made veterans care a priority and approved historic gains for veterans and their families. Whether its strengthening health care for veterans, or expanding educational opportunity to post 9-11 veterans through the new GI Bill, or addressing the veterans’ claim backlog and ensuring that veterans’ programs don’t fall victim to end-of-year budget disputes, it is vital that we keep our commitment to all the Americans who have served their country in uniform.
Most recently, in May 2015, the House of Representatives passed the fiscal year 2016 spending bill for the Department of Veterans Affairs (H.R. 2029). This bill contains funding for veterans benefit and health programs, including one of my annual appropriations priorities—veterans medical and prosthetic research. In order to become law, H.R. 2216 must also be adopted by the Senate. For fiscal year 2016, I’ve also requested funding for other critical veterans programs, from housing vouchers for homeless veterans, to suicide prevention, to medical research into the incidences of illnesses like prostate cancer and traumatic brain injuries in veterans. To learn more about these funding requests, please click on the links located at the bottom of this page.
Macomb and Oakland Counties are home to more than 110,000 veterans, and I am honored to have the opportunity to serve those who have served our country. If you are a veteran, please see my veterans assistance page for more information or contact my District Office at (586) 498-7122 with any questions or concerns you may have.
Expanding Education Opportunity
In 2009, Congress approved the new GI Bill for the 21st Century to restore the promise of a full four-year college education to veterans who have served since September 11, 2001. More than one million veterans have already taken advantage of these benefits, totaling nearly $30 billion. The new GI Bill pays tuition and fees up to the equivalent of in-state tuition at the highest-priced public college in the state where the veteran lives. The bill also pays a monthly housing allowance as well as a books and supplies stipend.
You are eligible for benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill is you have completed at least 90 days of active duty service on or after September 11, 2001, and were honorably discharged. The benefits are correlated on a sliding scale to years served. To receive full benefits, you must have served on active duty for three years.
The latest (March 2015) report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that we are making progress in the fight against veteran unemployment. While there is much still to be done, in the last year, the unemployment rate for all veterans has continued decline, and is currently at 5.3 percent. This matches the most recent (July 2015) overall unemployment rate, the unemployment rate for post 9/11 veterans dropped from to 7.2 percent in 2014. This progress is a result of our continued economic recovery, and also reveals an ever-growing recognition by civilian employers of veterans’ unique skills and workplace contributions. Congress has also played a key role in encouraging veteran hiring, including passing a bill that I cosponsored—the VOW to Hire Heroes Act (P.L. 112-56). This law provides transition assistance for servicemembers, expands education and training opportunities for veterans, and provides tax credits for employers who hire veterans with service-connected disabilities
Preserving Our Veterans’ History
Each year on Memorial Day and Veterans Day, Americans come together to remember those who have sacrificed and served our country in the Armed Forces. The stories of their service deserve to be shared and remembered. For many years, my office has been involved in an effort at the Library of Congress to collect and preserve wartime stories. This has been going on for fourteen years now. It’s the largest oral history project in U.S. history. It’s called the Veterans History Project.
Veterans from all over the country are recorded telling their stories of what they experienced while serving their country. Those recordings are available in Washington, D.C., in the Library of Congress and an increasing number are available to be viewed online. I am so pleased with this effort. The men and women who served our country, whether in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan have amazing stories to tell. They preserved our liberties and freedoms. We need to preserve their stories.
To learn more about my office’s partnership with the City of Southfield’s Veterans Commission RSVP of Macomb, and the city of Warren click here.
(Updated April 13, 2016)