Would repeal military pension cuts, offer other benefits to veterans
The military pension cuts are target number one for veteran lobby groups heading into the new year.
Like most veteran bills proposed at the federal and state level, S. 1950 is a omni-bus bill, meaning dozens of veteran-related legislative proposals are rolled into one for ease of passage. Since veterans bills are popular, they often contain many proposals slammed into one big bill by legislators across the country. Massachusetts legislators often take this tactic, grouping proposals from around the state into one large bill every year or two, typically introduced around or near Veterans Day or Memorial Day for symbolic purposes.
The military pension cut repeals are the primary draw in this bill. Veteran Service Organizations around the country balked at the inclusion of the pension cuts when introduced as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013. The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), the American Legion and the Military Officers Association of American (MOAA) all denounced the cuts and support S. 1950. The IAVA immediately took up the cause, asking Congress to "Keep Their Promises" to its military retirees.
A "flurry" or bills have been introduced to repeal the measure, but it's inclusion as part of the U.S Fiscal Year 2015 budget negotiations complicate the issue. Govtrack.us gives the bill a 28 percent chance to pass as constituted.
Here is a complete copy of S. 1950.
While the pension cuts steal the show, several other proposals have federal, state and local interest. Here are some examples:
Section 302 grants health insurance through the VA for veterans who do not have it.
Section 303 extends the mandatory VA healthcare coverage for deployed National Guardsman/Reservists and Active Duty from 5 to 10 years.
Section 415 explores barriers to employment for soldiers serving in the National Guard and the Reserves.
Two proposals represent advances to two of our most frequent questions.
1.) Can I get a veteran ID card?
2.) Am I a veteran if I served in the National Guard/Reserves only with no active duty time?
Section 807 authorizes the VA to issue identification cards to all veterans. Currently, only veterans enrolled in the VA healthcare system or service connected veterans are authorized ID cards. This is important to many veterans as ID cards allow veterans to obtain discounts at retail stores and other ancillary benefits.
Section 808 would grant honorary veteran status to all National Guardsman and Reservists who retire from inactive service. Currently, only active duty service time (varying by service period) grants veteran status to those who served in the military. While this bill may grant veteran status to this important military population, it would not change their definition for benefit purposes.