Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) March 4, 2021 – The bill provides additional services to many veterans’ groups, expanding crucial services to tens of thousands of former service members.
Early January, former President Donald Trump signed The Johnny Isakson and David P. Roe M.D. Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act (“the Act”) into law. The Act unanimously cleared both houses of Congress before being sent to the President’s desk, where he signed on January 5, giving the law final approval.
The 340-page Act, four years in the making, intends to help veterans facing a variety of issues, including homelessness, access to healthcare, exposure to toxic chemicals, as well as concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. Below are a few of the Act’s highlights.
Expanded Services for Female Veterans
Critics of the United States’ veteran policy often argue that issues confronting female veterans are often overlooked. The Act addresses these concerns by creating a new Veterans Affairs division, entitled “Office of Women’s Health at the Department of Veterans Affairs.” The Act also provides $20 million to improve current VA facilities that already offer women’s health programs and makes permanent the previously temporary policy under which these facilities offer childcare.
Among other important issues addressed by the Act, it also mandates all VA centers hire a dedicated women’s healthcare provider and that all facilities implement an anti-harassment and anti-sexual assault policy. The latter measures are intended to combat the negative culture many female servicemembers face when obtaining services at VA facilities.
Focus on Military Sexual Trauma
Military sexual trauma had been a significant concern in the Armed Forces for decades. Thousands of veterans have been denied benefits based on the military sexual trauma they experienced during their service. However, the Act requires a dedicated team consisting of experts who specialize in military sexual trauma to review all previously denied claims. In addition, service members can choose the sex of the medical providers that will examine them after reporting instances of sexual abuse.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone in the United States, including veterans. The Act increases VA-facility accountability by requiring state-run veteran facilities to report the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths regularly. This information will be made publicly available by February 4, 2021.
The Act also provides much-needed funding to shelters that house homeless veterans, allowing them to renovate shelters to qualify for social distancing.
National Guard Benefits
The Act addresses many reservists’ concerns in the National Guard by proving reservists with VA home-loan eligibility if they have logged 90 days of qualifying service, including a 30-day consecutive term of service. Previously, National Guard reservists had to either log six years of retirement-creditable service or 90 days of active-duty service, limiting federal mobilization for deployment. Under the Act, reservists can qualify for VA home-loan eligibility with qualifying Title 32 service.
Florida veterans’ benefits attorney, David W. Magann, highlights the importance of identifying and applying for all avenues of relief during this difficult time.
During this unprecedented time in our nation’s history, many service members have served their country, either through active duty or in the reserves. While these dedicated men and women are not in it for the benefits, they must get everything that has been set aside for them. They certainly deserve it for what they have done for our country.
Attorney David Magann is a Florida veterans’ benefits attorney with extensive experience helping veterans and service members confront legal issues. As a Marine Corps Veteran, attorney Magann understands the unique issues many veterans deal with once they leave their respective service and has overcome many of those issues himself. Attorney Magann handles social security disability, estate planning, veterans’ law and personal injury law out of his Brandon and Tampa offices. He can be reached at http://www.tampaveteranslawyer.com/