VETERANS BENEFITS COMMITTEE REPORT
BY JERRY KLEIN, CHAIR
remain vigilant in the face of many challenges that will be cast
our way in the coming years. Recently, an editorial appeared in
the Palm Beach Post entitled, "Bush Goes AWOL When Soldiers
Need Care." The editorial, written by George McEvoy stated: "The
sinister plot to take away earned compensation benefits and
survivor benefits shows the true colors of those individuals who
support the administration's policy in Iraq, but don't really
support the troops."
At issue was a provision of the 2004 Defense Authorization Bill
that would have denied disability compensation and health care to
Americans who become disabled while serving their country if their
disabilities are not directly related to the performance of their
official duties. Known as the "direct performance of duty"
standard, this provision would overturn current law, which
authorizes service connection for disabilities incurred in the
line of duty.
This trial balloon - offered by some members of Congress but
hidden from public scrutiny - was an attempt on the part of a
certain element of our government to cause undue harm to the very
individuals they have sworn to protect: men and women in uniform.
Some day, our active-duty, Reserve, and National Guard members
serving in Iraq and Afghanistan will go to the Department of
Veterans Affairs for health care and compensation benefits. As
veterans advocates, we must insure that those benefits will be
available to all American military personnel.
We must remain
vigilant against any stealthy attempt to compromise the VA Health
Care and Benefits system.