WASHINGTON – This week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed companion legislation to the bipartisan bill Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced to prioritize veterans’ employment and education programs at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
The current Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is divided into three Administrations: Veterans Health Administration (VHA), Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), and the National Cemetery Administration. The Veterans Benefits Administration is responsible for all benefits, including disability compensation, pension claims, and economic opportunity. Unfortunately, VBA efforts to administer important educational and employment benefits, like the GI Bill or the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment program, are often overshadowed by VBA’s other missions. Under the Hassan-Rubio Veterans’ Education, Transition, and Opportunity Prioritization Plan (VET OPP) Act of 2018, the VA would be required to create a new administration to focus on economic opportunity programs. The new administration would be created within existing resources and without adding more full-time employees to avoid adding new bureaucracy at VA.
“It is critical that our veterans have the support they need to thrive in civilian life,” Senator Hassan said. “The bipartisan VETS OPP Act that Senator Rubio and I introduced is critical to those efforts, prioritizing educational and employment services to help our veterans succeed in the 21st century innovation economy. I applaud the House of Representatives for passing this bill and demonstrating bipartisan, bicameral consensus around the importance of expanding economic opportunity for those who have served.”
"I commend my colleagues in the House of Representatives for passing our bill to provide more direct oversight and accountability over existing programs aimed at helping our veterans lead economically prosperous lives post-service,” Senator Rubio said. “For far too long, the outdated structure of the VA has allowed economic opportunity and transition programs for our veterans to fall to the wayside. Our veterans did not hesitate to answer the call to protect our great nation and we must do everything we can to ensure the VA is adapting to the 21st century needs of our veterans.”