New Law May Bring New Benefits to Veterans

President Obama signed The Veterans' Benefits Act of 2010 law this fall. House Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Bob Filner said, "This bill will make a big difference in the lives of many of America's brave veterans."

The new law addresses many of the needs of veterans, with key provisions including:

Enhances Employment Opportunities

  • Provides an 18-month period for training of new disabled veterans' outreach program specialists and local veterans' employment representatives by the National Veterans' Employment and Training Services Institute.
  • Extends authority for certain qualifying work-study activities for purposes of the educational assistance programs of the Department of Veterans Affairs Reauthorization of Veterans' Advisory Committee on Education.

Working to Prevents Homeless Veterans

  • Reauthorizes appropriations for the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program.
  • Makes grants to programs and facilities to provide dedicated services for homeless women veterans and homeless veterans with children.

Ensuring the Welfare of Veterans and Their Families by Increasing Insurance Limits

  • Increases the amount of supplemental insurance for totally disabled veterans.
  • Creates a permanent extension of duration of Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance coverage for totally disabled veterans.
  • Adjusts coverage of dependents under the Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance.
  • Allows the opportunity to increase the amount of Veterans' Group Life Insurance.
  • Secures Compensation, Pensions and Other Benefits.

Protecting Service Members Called to Combat

  • Clarifies that Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act(USERRA) prohibits wage discrimination against members of the Armed Forces.

Honoring Fallen Service Members and Their Families

  • Increases certain burial and funeral benefits and plot allowances for veterans.
  • Allows interment in national cemeteries of parents of certain deceased veterans.
  • Reports on selection of new national cemeteries.

Strengthening Education Benefits

  • Extends the life of the Veterans' Advisory Committee on Education.

Addressing Housing Needs of Disabled Veterans

  • Enhances disability compensation for certain disabled veterans with difficulties using prostheses and disabled veterans in need of regular aid and attendance for residuals of traumatic brain injury.

Investing in Research for Gulf War Veterans

  • Allows for National Academies to review the best treatments for Gulf War illness.
  • Extends and modifies the National Academy of Sciences reviews and evaluations regarding illness and service in the Persian Gulf War and Post 9/11 Global Operations Theaters.

American Legion National Commander Jimmie Foster commented on the bill: "...In our view, the real successes were the passage of bills that affected nearly every veteran in America."

There are continuing issues related to the ongoing physical and mental healthcare needs of veterans. Congress is working on ways to develop, train and retain healthcare professionals within the VA Healthcare system and improve the quality of health-related research initiatives within the VA. There is ever increasing pressure on the VA to effectively treat and care for the complex health needs of returning veterans.

If you are a veteran and you have questions on how provisions of this bill could help you, or you need assistance with determining and applying for benefits, speaking with attorney experienced with veterans' benefits can be a good place to start. A lawyer understands the complexities of the system, can identify the benefits to which you may be entitled and can assist you with the benefits process.