Biden Approves Multiple VA Reform Bills
President Joe Biden recently signed four veterans reform bills into law, calling the changes part of the nation's "sacred obligation" to protect veterans and their families.
"We prepare those we send into harm's way, and we care for their families while they're gone, and we care for them and their families after they come home," Biden said. "That's a lifetime commitment the nation owes to every one of our veterans."
The measures were all overwhelmingly bipartisan, and none were controversial. Biden highlighted veterans for the last time in November after the nation had celebrated Veterans Day a few weeks earlier.
Denis McDonough, secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., committee ranking member Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., House VA Committee Chairman Mark Takano, D-Calif., and a host of other lawmakers and veterans advocates also attended the event.
As a service member’s father, Biden also took advantage of the short ceremony to reflect. Former Delaware National Guard member Beau Biden, the president's son who died of cancer, had also served in Iraq.
“It is personal,” Biden told the crowd. “It’s a commitment [to care for veterans] that we are helping to keep today because of the leadership of the women and men in this room.”
In the first bill, the Protecting Moms Who Serve Act, $15 million is invested in new maternity care coordination programs at VA facilities. VA officials are tasked with addressing gaps in care for veterans and research into prenatal and postpartum health.
The bill will also require VA facilities to offer childbirth preparation classes, parenting classes, nutrition counseling and breastfeeding support.
VA officials will have to work with Defense Department officials to help separate troops with health care skills find employment at veterans hospitals thanks to the Hire Veteran Health Heroes Act.
The final measure will require the Government Accountability Office to investigate potential disparities in benefits awards based on race and ethnicity. Past studies have shown that minorities may receive fewer benefits or face additional obstacles to receiving disability benefits than their white counterparts.
The bill for veterans may not be signed by Biden this year. In the final weeks of the session next month, lawmakers are expected to advance several other veterans' bills.