12.18.07

Burr Applauds Passage Of Veterans Benefits Legislation

Act Enhances Benefits Afforded To Blind Veterans

Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) today applauded Senate passage of the Blinded Veterans Paired Organ Act of 2007 (H.R.797) which makes it easier for veterans who are legally blind to qualify for additional disability compensation payments. It also provides the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) with more authority to issue headstones and grave markers, extends the VA's work study program for veterans, and provides states with federal assistance in maintaining their veterans' cemeteries. The legislation passed the Senate by unanimous consent Monday night. The measure passed the House of Representatives in March and will now go to the President for his signature.

"I applaud the Senate for passing this important piece of veterans' legislation." Burr said. "Changing VA's disability policy will greatly benefit veterans blinded during their military service. I am also pleased state veterans' cemeteries will receive greater federal assistance. This legislation will help honor our veterans by ensuring their final resting places are properly maintained."

H.R. 797 changes the VA's vision standard to qualify for disability benefits, which currently requires visual acuity of 5/200 or less. The bill modifies this standard to 20/200 or less, which conforms to the benchmark of the American Medical Association, the Social Security Administration, and all 50 states.

The measure also enhances the VA's authority to reimburse state veterans' cemeteries and provide government headstones and markers to veterans interred in private cemeteries. Under the legislation, veterans buried in a private cemetery may receive a government headstone or medallion or other appropriate marker to indicate their military service. The bill provides for the maintenance of state veterans' cemeteries by authorizing $5 million to cover their expenses and removing some state reimbursement requirements.