Keeping Faith with Veterans

Joined by Vermont veterans' advocates, Senator Bernie Sanders announced at a press conference in his Burlington Senate office the introduction of the Comprehensive Veterans Benefits Improvement Act. The legislation, crafted with input from veterans' service organizations, would improve health care, insurance, housing, pensions and other benefits.

Joined by Vermont veterans' advocates, Senator Bernie Sanders announced at a press conference in his Burlington Senate office the introduction of the Comprehensive Veterans Benefits Improvement Act. The legislation, crafted with input from veterans' service organizations, would improve health care, insurance, housing, pensions and other benefits. The Sanders bill would make more than two dozen changes to veterans' programs ranging from disability payments, to insurance premiums, to grants for disabled veterans to adapt their cars. "This sweeping veterans legislation begins to address the inadequate benefits and other important assistance programs that this country provides to our veterans and their families," Sanders said. "This legislation was written with the active help of the major veterans' organizations, the people who work with our veterans on a daily basis and have a strong understanding of the needs of that community." A member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, Sanders said his legislation is "the least we can do to show our appreciation for those who sacrifice for their country." Among the issues addressed in the Sanders bill is the backlog of more than 400,000 claims at the Veterans Administration, a number certain to rise as service members return from war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan. "The answer to improving the processing time and the claims backlog is not to fast track one group of veterans at the expense of another group of veterans. Instead we must create a system that handles claims in a timely and accurate way," Sanders said. "This is a huge problem and we must address it now. Having veterans waiting months and years to get their claims processed is unacceptable and a national disgrace." The legislation would improve the claims process by modernizing the system for the Veterans Affairs Department and the Defense Department to share information. More accurate information and faster claims processing would dramatically improve healthcare services for veterans. Sanders was joined at the press conference by Ed Laviletta, VFW national legislative officer for Vermont; Winston Dowland, Vermont Disabled American Veterans legislative chairman and past department commander; and Marvin Minkler, a members of Sanders' Veterans Advisory Council. Click here to read the bill , and here for a summary, and here for video of the senator's press conference statement, and here for the senator's statement at a Veterans Affairs Committee hearing.