Caring for Our Veterans and Wounded Warriors
America’s veterans have made every sacrifice to protect our country. Although we can never fully repay the debt we owe our veterans, it is our duty as a nation to fulfill our commitments to them and this is one of Congressman Sarbanes' top priorities while serving in Congress. He has worked hard to ensure that veterans receive the compensation, health care, educational opportunities and employment assistance they have earned.
Since 2007, Congress has made great investments in the future of our country’s veterans. By increasing veterans’ health budget by more than 40 percent and enacting a new GI bill with educational benefits for the 21st century, it has ensured that all our veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan can attend college and thrive in the civilian workforce.
Giving veterans easier access to benefits they’ve earned
After working with a disabled Gulf War veteran who was denied Social Security benefits, Congressman Sarbanes introduced the Benefit Rating Acceleration for Veteran Entitlements (BRAVE) Act. The BRAVE Act would ensure that our disabled veterans do not have to wade through an unnecessary and duplicative benefits approval process with the Social Security Administration if they have already received a 100 percent disability rating from the Veterans Administration.
The bill is all the more important at a time when we face significant increases in Social Security applications as a result of the baby boomer generation and as veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan come home. Congressman Sarbanes will continue to work for a streamlined application and benefits process for disabled veterans its passage.
Addressing backlogs at the Baltimore VA
Congressman Sarbanes has fought to improve the services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs and to ensure the Department has sufficient staff and other resources to efficiently administer veterans’ programs. In particular, the Baltimore Veterans Affairs office has an unacceptable backlog of veterans’ claims and Congressman Sarbanes has worked with his colleagues in the Maryland Congressional Delegation to call attention to these problems at the highest levels of the Department.
As a result of these efforts by the delegation, the VA Secretary recently announced that the Baltimore office will receive an influx of senior staff, supplemental employee training, and a new digital processing system to more quickly and accurately adjudicate claims. Congressman Sarbanes will continue monitoring ongoing developments at the Baltimore VA office to ensure that real progress is made.
Giving veterans the support they need after their service
Congressman Sarbanes was privileged to introduce legislation to create a Veterans’ Service Corps that will provide additional resources to our nation’s veterans and Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs). Signed into law in April of 2009, the Veterans’ Service Corps authorizes grants for organizations that “serve veterans, members of the Armed Forces who are on active duty, and family members of deployed military personnel, or engage veterans in service.”
Eligible uses of funding may include, but are not limited to:
- Building housing for veterans
- Transporting veterans to medical appointments and other locations that are not easily accessible
- Assisting with rehabilitative classes such as physical therapy or life skills development
- Creating care packages for current members of the military serving overseas
- Volunteering in veterans' hospitals
- Pairing younger veterans to work with elderly veterans and those who have been disabled
- Performing outreach to the veteran community to provide them information and access to services available to them