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VIDEO: Harder Introduces New Bill to Cut Red Tape and Extend VA Health Benefits to All WWII Veterans

WASHINGTON — Today, Representative Josh Harder (CA-10) spoke during a House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing on his new WWII Veterans Hospital and Medical Eligibility Act which will cut red tape to open full U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health benefits to every veteran of World War II. The bill is cosponsored Congressman Vela (TX-34) and the identical bill is being led in the Senate by Senators Menendez and Cramer. Right now, more than 25% of the almost 400,000 living WWII veterans aren’t using the health care benefits they’ve earned.

Video of Rep. Harder’s remarks are available for public use here.

“Today, I’m asking that we stop tripping over red tape and needless rules and started delivering health care for the World War II veterans we’re lucky enough to call our parents, our neighbors, and our friends,” said Rep. Harder during the House committee hearing. “We can never repay the men and women who kept us free all those years ago, but we can provide them the health care they deserve as they live out their golden years surrounded by their kids, their grandkids, and their great grandkids.”

“Those who made the Greatest Generation truly great are nearly gone. We can recognize these remaining heroes with actions far more meaningful than words. The Veterans Health Care Eligibility Act of 1996 exempted all veterans of the Mexican border period and World War I from the means test required to enter the VA health care system. It’s time to do the same for our World War II veterans,” said Paul Dillard, National Commander of The American Legion. “The American Legion is proud to support this legislation that further opens the VA’s great system to all of our nation’s World War II veterans.”

The VA determines a veteran’s eligibility for cost-free health care benefits based on a variety of factors such as military service history, disability rating and income level. The Veterans Health Care Eligibility Act of 1996 exempted all Spanish American War and World War I veterans from having to meet certain requirements in order to receive VA health care benefits. The WWII Veterans Hospital and Medical Eligibility Act will extend the exemption to include WWII veterans.

Read Rep. Harder’s full remarks below. Watch them online here.

Today I want to highlight an issue that, regardless of the amount of lip service folks in Washington give it, is still way too big a challenge.  That’s health care for our veterans.

Right now, despite their heroic service to our nation, more than 1 in 4 veterans of the Second World War aren’t using the health care benefits they’ve earned. That means more than a quarter of the men and women who defeated fascism and kept our nation free aren’t receiving the medical services, the in-home care, the nursing home care, and the hospital care our nation promised them when they put on the uniform so many decades ago.

And we know exactly why this is happening – means testing restrictions are excluding these veterans from getting services at the VA. So, I’m here today with as simple a fix as there is.

I’m proposing the WWII Veterans Hospital and Medical Eligibility Act. The whole bill is less than one page. It says that every World War II veteran, no matter who they are or where they’re from is eligible for full health care benefits from the VA by exempting them from the means test. With the passage of this bill, any WWII veteran who was not previously enrolled in VA healthcare would have access to this expanded automatic eligibility. We did exactly this for the veterans of the First World War, and it’s time we do it for the Greatest Generation too.

Today, I’m asking that we stop tripping over red tape and needless rules and started delivering health care for the World War II veterans we’re lucky enough to call our parents, our neighbors, and our friends. We can never repay the men and women who kept us free all those years ago, but we can provide them the health care they deserve as they live out their golden years surrounded by their kids, their grandkids, and their great grandkids.

Thank you. I look forward to working with my colleague, Rep. Vela, and Republicans and Democrats alike to get this bill signed into law so every World War II veteran can age with dignity and respect.

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