WASHINGTON — On April 3, Sens. Maggie Hassan, D-NH, and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Reps. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, and Mike Levin, D-Calif., introduced the Veterans’ Education, Transition, and Opportunity Prioritization Plan (VET OPP) Act of 2019.
The bill is co-sponsored by Reps. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., and Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla.
Currently, the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) is responsible for all Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits provided to veterans, outside of health care and cemetery services.
While there are many different benefits that VBA provides, the bulk of staffing and resources have been directed toward the administration of disability compensation and pension claims.
This has resulted in a lack of attention on the administration of other VBA benefits, such as the Forever GI Bill, vocational rehabilitation, home loan benefits, and the VA’s portion of the Transition Assistance Program (TAP).
The VET OPP Act would address this by realigning education, transition and employment programs at the VA under a new administration, the Economic Opportunity and Transition Administration.
This new administration would be accountable to a presidentially appointed undersecretary and would be created using existing resources to avoid additional bureaucracy.
“This bipartisan bill will help ensure that our brave veterans who have sacrificed for our freedoms have the support and resources to help them smoothly transition into our civilian workforce and leverage their unique skills and experience to pursue careers that further support our economy,” said Hassan.
“By prioritizing education, housing, vocational rehabilitation and employment, and military-to-civilian transition services at the VA, this legislation is a step forward in our efforts to build a country that is ever-worthy of the selfless sacrifice of our veterans.”