September 30, 2020

Senators Hassan, Cramer, Cassidy Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Support New Veterans During Transition to Civilian Life

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), and Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA) introduced bipartisan legislation to strengthen and codify the Solid Start program, created by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) last year, to contact every veteran multiple times by phone in the first year after they leave active duty to check in and help connect them to VA programs and benefits.

 

“Veterans who bravely sacrificed for our country often face significant struggles as they return to civilian life, and we have an obligation to do everything that we can to support them in this transition,” said Senator Hassan. “The new Solid Start program has made significant strides in supporting veterans, and I’m glad to work across the aisle to ensure that this program continues and to strengthen it.”

 

“Our bill creates a flexible, personalized program to help veterans return to civilian life,” said Senator Cramer. “These patriots put their lives on the line each day. We should give them all the resources they need to make that transition as easy as possible.”

 

“For a veteran to be fully served by the benefits which they earned, they have to know what those benefits are. This bill makes sure they know the benefits which they have earned so that they may take full advantage,” said Dr. Cassidy.

 

The VA launched the Solid Start program in December 2019 with the goal of reaching out to all newly separated veterans three times within their first year of separation to check in and help connect them to VA programs and benefits, regardless of separation type or characterization of service. The program also prioritizes outreach to veterans who accessed mental health resources prior to separation in order to quickly connect at-risk veterans to services. The bipartisan bill would codify the program and authorize sufficient funding so that it can continue to serve veterans, and also makes improvements such as:

 

  • Helping ensure that veterans can be reached by collecting up-to-date contacting information during the transition process
  • Following up by mail or other outreach if a veteran does not respond to phone calls
  • Including Solid Start information in VA printed materials and on the VA website
  • Requiring the Government Accountability Office to assess the program to ensure that it is efficiently and effectively meeting the goals of the program

 

Read the one-pager for the bill here.

 

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