05.07.08

Senate Veterans’ Committee Hears Testimony On Education And Disability Modernization Legislation

The U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs today received testimony on two bills sponsored and co-sponsored by Senator Richard Burr. The committee reviewed S.2938, legislation introduced by Senators Graham, Burr, McCain, and 15 other Senators that would enhance education benefits provided to veterans, those on active duty, and members of the Guard and Reserve. The panel also examined the America's Wounded Warriors Act (S.2674), a bill introduced by Senator Burr that is designed to simplify and modernize the veterans' disability system at the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

S.2938, the Graham-Burr-McCain education bill, would improve education benefits for servicemembers, veterans, and members of the Guard and Reserve. The legislation would immediately increase education benefits for a broad range of military personnel and veterans and would help more of them attend college debt-free. Additionally, the legislation would allow more military personnel to transfer their education benefits to their spouse or children. It would also help recruitment and retention efforts by encouraging servicemembers to continue their military careers.

"We need an education benefit that recognizes the service of those who wear the uniform and helps our warriors get the education they need to succeed after their military service," Burr said. "The Graham-Burr-McCain bill addresses three important goals - recruitment, retention, and readjustment. Our legislation will help many personnel and their families reach their educational goals debt-free, encourage career military service, and help sustain our all-volunteer force."

The committee also reviewed the America's Wounded Warriors Act, which would require the VA to replace its outdated rating schedule with a new schedule that takes into account both average loss of earning capacity and loss of quality of life. It would also create "transition" payments to help medically discharged veterans focus on rehabilitation, training, and getting back into the workforce. The legislation would simplify the claims process by ending the duplicative system that requires many injured veterans to get rated by both VA and the Department of Defense. These updates provide common sense solutions for today's veterans living in the modern world.

"Our current disability system often requires injured servicemembers to go through a lengthy, redundant, and bureaucratic process at two government agencies," Burr said. "We must update and simplify this system so our wounded warriors quickly receive the benefits and services they need to recover and lead productive lives."

Senator Burr is the ranking member on the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs.