2020 also was a banner year for all those serving in and out of uniform. Some of the bills listed below have taken years (and several Congresses) to get across the finish line. Thanks to the unrelenting efforts of advocates members, partners, veterans, and their families – answering calls to action and sharing stories – collectively were able to do so:
H.R. 2385, Veterans Legacy Program (Public Law No: 116-107, Jan. 17, 2020). Permits the VA to establish a grant program to conduct cemetery research and produce educational materials for the Veterans Legacy Program, which commemorates our nation's veterans through the discovery and sharing of their stories.
S. 3503, Veterans Education Programs (Public Law No: 116-128, Mar. 21, 2020). Directs the VA to treat certain programs of education that have been converted to distance learning because of emergencies and health-related situations in the same manner as programs of education pursued at educational institutions.
H.R. 748, Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security(CARES) Act (Public Law No: 116-136, Mar. 27, 2020). Provides aid to address the COVID-19 national pandemic outbreak and its impact on the economy, public health, state and local governments, individuals, and businesses.
H.R. 6322, Student Veterans Coronavirus Response Act of 2020 (Public Law No: 116-140, Apr. 28, 2020). Provides a variety of education programs and assistance for veterans during the covered period from March 1 to Dec. 21, 2020, as a result of the pandemic.
H.R. 3504, Ryan Kules and Paul Benne Specialty Adaptive Housing Improvement Act of 2019 (Public Law No: 116-154, Aug. 8, 2020). Provides improvements to VA’s adaptive housing and educational assistance programs.
H.R. 886, Veteran Treatment Court Coordination Action of 2019 (Public Law No: 116-153, Aug. 8, 2020). Establishes grants and technical assistance for state, local, and tribal governments to develop and maintain veterans’ treatment court programs to help veterans charged with nonviolent crimes receive the help and the benefits they need.
S. 785, Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act of 2019 (Public Law No: 116-171, Oct. 17, 2020). Improves mental health care and suicide prevention programs in the VA.
H.R. 2372, Veterans’ Care Quality Transparency Act (Public Law No: 116-177, Oct. 20, 2020). Requires the comptroller general to assess the effectiveness of all agreements the VA has entered into, including non-VA organizations related to suicide prevention and mental health services.
H.R. 1812, Vet Center Eligibility Expansion Act (Public Law No: 116-177, Oct. 20, 2020). Requires the VA to expand readjustment counseling and mental health services through its Vet Center Program.
H.R. 2359, Whole Veteran Act (Public Law No: 116-185, Oct. 30, 2020). Requires the VA to submit a report to Congress on advancing its whole health initiative to transform the veterans’ health care system.
S. 3587, VA Website Accessibility Act of 2019 (Public Law No: 116-213, Dec. 4, 2020). Requires VA to study and report on the VA website’s accessibility to individuals with disabilities.
H.R. 8247, Veterans Comprehensive, Prevention, Access to Care, and Treatment (COMPACT) Act of 2020 (Public Law No: 116-214, Dec. 5, 2020). Enhances transition assistance services and suicide prevention programs, and improves care and services for women veterans.
H.R. 7105, Johnny Isakson and David P. Roe, M.D. Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act of 2020 (Public Law No: 116-315, Jan. 5, 2021). Provides the VA more flexibility in caring for homeless veterans during a covered public health emergency and directs the agency to carry out a retraining assistance program for unemployed veterans, among other improvements.
H.R. 8354, Servicemembers and Veterans Initiative Act of 2020 (Public Law No: 116-288, Jan. 5, 2021). Establishes the Servicemembers and Veterans Initiative within the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department.