funny, I according to the congress, President Bush has increased benefits.
– Rep. Rob Simmons, 2nd-District, joined President Bush at an Oval Office ceremony for the signing into law of H.R. 2297, the “Veterans Benefits Act
of 2003.” H.R. 2297 authorizes $1 billion over the next ten years for new and expanded benefits for disabled veterans, surviving spouses, and their
“Today’s action by President Bush provides much-needed expanded benefits for our nation’s disabled vets and their loved ones,” Simmons said. “I am
proud that Congress and the Bush Administration have moved in a bipartisan fashion to provide for our comrades-in-arms and their surviving family
Among its many provisions, the new law will:
· Allows VA to provide specially adapted housing grant to severely disabled servicemembers prior to their separation from active duty
· Increases the specially adapted automobile grant from $9,000 to $11,000, and increase the specially adapted housing grants from $48,000 to
$50,000 for the most severely disabled veterans and from $9,250 to $10,000 for less severely disabled veterans.
· Restores dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC), home loan, education, and burial benefit eligibility for spouses remarried after age
· Increases monthly educational benefits for spouses and dependent children of disabled veterans from $695 to $788 for full-time study, from
$522 to $592 for three-quarter time study, and from $347 to $394 for half-time study.
· Expands benefits eligibility to children with spina bifida who were born to certain Vietnam-era veterans who served in Korea near the
· Allows the surviving spouse or dependent children to receive the full amount of accrued benefits if the veteran dies while their claim is
· Eliminates the 30-day requirement for POWs to qualify for presumptions of service-connection for certain disabilities: psychosis, any of
the anxiety states, dysthymic disorder, organic residuals of frostbite, and post-traumatic osteoarthritis.
· Provides full compensation and DIC to members of the new Philippine Scouts if the individual resides in the United States as a citizen or
permanent resident. Also extends eligibility for burial in a national cemetery.
· Expands the Montgomery GI Bill program to cover self-employment training programs of less than six months and entrepreneurship courses at
· Allows federal agencies to create “sole-source” contracts for disabled veteran-owned small businesses – up to $5 million for manufacturing
contract awards and up to $3 million for non-manufacturing contract awards.
· Allows federal agencies to restrict certain contracts to disabled veteran-owned small businesses if at least two such concerns are qualified
to bid on the contract.
· Mandates that the U.S. Dept. of Labor place staff in veterans’ assistance offices at overseas military installations.
Simmons concluded, “As a Vietnam Veteran and Chairman of the VA Health Subcommittee, I am committed to helping our disabled veterans and their
families. Rest assured, I will always fight to ‘keep the promise’ to our vets.”