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Advocating for Veterans: Urging Congress to Pass the Senator Elizabeth Dole 21st Century Veterans Healthcare and Benefits Improvement Act in Madison, WI



Veterans Healthcare and Benefits Improvement
American Legion members meet at the U.S. Capitol to gain support for legislation

Advocating for Veterans: Urging Congress to Pass the Senator Elizabeth Dole 21st Century Veterans Healthcare and Benefits Improvement Act in Madison, WI

Today, the American Legion, along with other veteran service organizations, gathered in Washington, D.C., to push for the passage of H.R. 8371, the Senator Elizabeth Dole 21st Century Veterans Healthcare and Benefits Improvement Act. This legislation promises significant improvements in healthcare and benefits for veterans, particularly those in rural areas like Madison, Wisconsin.


Key Provisions and Benefits of H.R. 8371


1. Enhancing Rural Emergency Services: Chanin Nuntavong, executive director of The American Legion’s Government Affairs Office, highlighted the story of Dan and Jeri McKeaney. Their lives were saved by Emergency Air Medical Services (EMS) after a motorcycle accident. Section 143 of the bill ensures funding for rural air ambulance services, crucial for saving lives in emergencies.


2. Expanding Home-Based Care: The bill aims to expand access to home- and community-based services at VA medical centers, offering severely ill and aging veterans more options to receive care at home rather than in institutions.


3. Improving Access to Care: It ensures that decisions between veterans and their VA providers about seeking community care are respected and enhances access to residential rehabilitation treatment programs for mental health and substance use disorders.

4. Honoring the Fallen: The bill expands education benefits for surviving families and removes penalties for surviving spouses. Section 30, known as Gerald’s Law, seeks to provide burial support to veterans who choose to spend their final days at home.


5. Supporting Homeless Veterans: It raises the grant and per-diem rate for providers who help homeless veterans, ensuring they receive transportation to medical, housing, and employment appointments.


6. Caring for Caregivers: The legislation creates mental health care grants for caregivers of veterans, providing support and advocacy for navigating VA caregiver and long-term care services.


7. Enhancing Education and Employment: H.R. 8371 includes provisions to support the Veteran Employment Through Technology Education Courses (VET-TEC) program, which has helped 14,000 veterans gain skills for tech careers.


The Importance of Passing H.R. 8371


Nuntavong emphasized that failing to pass this legislation would jeopardize the vital programs and services discussed. Veterans, their families, and caregivers would face reduced healthcare services and employment opportunities. Former Senator Elizabeth Dole also stressed the urgency of passing the bill, highlighting the bipartisan support and the critical need for the resources and reforms it provides.


How You Can Help


Veterans and supporters in Madison can make a difference by contacting their members of Congress to urge the passage of H.R. 8371. The American Legion Family members and other advocates can visit the American Legion's website to find out how to get involved.


Conclusion

The Senator Elizabeth Dole 21st Century Veterans Healthcare and Benefits Improvement Act represents a crucial step forward in providing comprehensive care and support for veterans. By passing H.R. 8371, Congress can ensure that veterans receive the benefits and services they deserve. Join the call to action and help make a difference for veterans in Madison, Wisconsin, and across the nation.


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John Reuter

The Veteran Realtor

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