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range, and is looking into possible solu- tions to lower this cost.


Big Win for


With the Senate’s action, a longstand- ing goal of MOAA and The Military Coalition of honoring as veterans certain career reservists with no active duty service is poised to be enacted into law.


I


Reservists Millions should receive the credit they deserve.


n recent years, action on significant veterans’ matters in the House of Rep- resentatives often cleared the chamber


before the Senate. This year, the full Senate went first by favorably voting out the “21st Century Veterans Benefits Delivery and Other Improvements Act,” which addresses veteran health care and benefits needs. With the Senate’s action, a longstand- ing goal of MOAA and The Military Coali- tion of honoring as veterans certain career reservists with no active duty service is poised to be enacted into law. The Senate- passed bill (S. 1203) differs slightly from the House bill (H.R. 1384) sponsored by Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.). Walz’s bill would amend veteran law (Title 38 of the U.S. Code) by creating a new definition honoring the career reservists as veterans but denying them any new benefits. The Senate provision simply honors


career reservists as veterans but does not codify the provision in Title 38. The compromise approach apparently was taken to overcome concerns that putting the honorific in Title 38 could be used in the future as a gateway to provide other veterans’ benefits. Walz dismissed the concern because his bill contains an explicit prohibition against new veterans’ benefits. The Walz bill has cleared the full


Veterans’ Affairs Committee. It could be voted out of the full House in the near fu- ture or combined with other measures in a House veterans’ omnibus. In that case,


40 MILITARY OFFICER JANUARY 2016


the differences between the two provi- sions would have to be reconciled. Other components of the Senate bill


would improve the transition process for separating servicemembers, upgrade the claims and appeals system, and expand VA health care capacity. Among the changes, the bill would:  revive a program to hire veteran medics and corpsmen to be skilled nursing assis- tants in the VA’s emergency departments;  expand the provision of chiropractic ser- vices to veterans;  accelerate recognition of DoD medical credentials to boost VA recruitment of medical providers;  encourage DoD to permit veterans ser- vice organizations to assist servicemem- bers leaving the military during transition assistance program training;  expand the use of video teleconfer- ences for hearings before the Board of Veterans Appeals;  assist surviving spouses of veteran small business owners; and  direct the Government Accountability Office to study the consistency of claim decisions among VA regional offices.


Congress Passes C


New Defense Bill Lawmakers spare benefits programs in budget agreement.


ongress passed a new FY 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in mid-November


2015. Armed Services Committee leaders amended the defense bill after the presi- dent vetoed the original version over budget and other issues. This is the bill that includes reduced housing allowances and pay raises for troops, a reduced


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