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november/december 2009

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Legislative Developments


I want to thank VVA President John Rowan for reappointing me chair of the Homeless Veterans Committee. We have been given our direction for the next two years by the delegates at the National Convention in Louisville and will move forward on behalf of our less fortunate brothers and sisters.

I also have been reappointed to the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Advisory Committee for Homeless Veterans for another two-year term. I have been an active member of the Advisory Committee since 2003.

During the last Board of Directors meeting in Silver Spring, I met with several Senate staffers about homeless veteran bills currently in the works. I was accompanied by Sharon Hodge, our VVA Staff Advisor. We met with:

Nancy Hogan, Committee of Veterans’ Affairs, Sen. Daniel Akaka’s (D-Hawaii) office: S. 252 The Veterans Health Care Authorization Act of 2009. This would authorize a five-year pilot program to make grants to public and nonprofit organizations to coordinate the provision of supportive services to very-low-income, formerly homeless veterans residing in permanent housing on property that was part of a military installation that had been closed. Another pilot program would make grants available to provide outreach.

Geoffrey Kirkwood, Sen. Patty Murray’s (D-Wash.) Legislative Aide: S. 1237 The Homeless Women Veterans and Homeless Veterans with Children Act of 2009. The bill would expand the grant program for homeless veterans with special needs to include male homeless veterans with minor dependents and to establish a grant program for reintegration of homeless women veterans and homeless veterans with children.

Megan Richardson, Sen. Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) office: S. 1160 Homes for Heroes Act of 2009. This would amend the Department of Housing and Urban Development Act to establish a Special Assistant for Veterans Affairs to ensure that veterans have access to HUD housing and homeless assistance programs, to coordinate all HUD programs relating to veterans, and to serve as a liaison with the VA. 

Ariana Reks, Sen. Barbara Boxer’s (D-Calif.) Legislative Aide: S. 1366, to amend the IRS code to allow taxpayers to designate a portion of their income-tax payment to provide assistance to homeless veterans.

In the days immediately preceding the Board meeting, I provided written testimony to the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Health concerning several homeless veterans bills. The testimony can be found on the VVA website.

The Department of Veterans Affairs held a national summit November 3-5 in Washington, D.C., to promote research findings, innovative thinking, and partnerships to achieve the goal of ending veteran homelessness in five years.

Members of the committee are Marsha Four, Vice Chair, Ric Davidge, Jerry Yamamoto, Pat Bessigano, Tom Berger, and TP Hubert. Special Advisors: Frances Rowan, Suzanne Blohm-Weber, Nancy Switzer, and John Driscoll. Staff Coordinator: Sharon Hodge.



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