Johnny Isakson and David P. Roe Veterans Health and Benefits Enhancement Act of 2020 (Isakson-Roe Act) was signed into law in January 2021. This week, we continue our examination of the many ways the law improves the benefits and care veterans receive from VA by examining burial needs, opportunities for education and other statutory benefits.
Expands efforts to provide accurate and timely education delivery
The law affects some of the benefits that veterans receive. The Isakson-Roe Act includes updates to the GI Bill registration process, eligibility opportunities, and substantial changes to VA oversight of GI Bill-approved schools.
Educational and career benefits are key to helping veterans transition from military to civilian life. One such benefit that has been incredibly successful is Veterans Employment Education Courses Through Technology, or VET TEC.
The program is designed to help veterans gain high-tech computer experience to start or advance their careers in the industry. It has over 3,400 graduates with an average annual salary of over $60,000. In recognition of the program’s positive impact, the Isakson-Roe Act increased annual funding from $15 million to $45 million.
Other benefits for veterans expanded by law include eligibility for scholarships and veterans’ entitlement to the GI Bill.
Expands Home Loan Benefits to Veterans Affected by Natural Disaster
The law goes beyond improving educational benefits by also expanding access to VA home loan benefit, while reducing the financial burden on veterans whose homes have been damaged or destroyed by a natural disaster.
The law extends eligibility for the VA home loan guarantee to members of the National Guard who have been activated to perform full-time duties in the National Guard.
The law allows VA home loan borrowers whose residences have been significantly damaged or destroyed by a federally declared natural disaster to be charged a first-time finance charge on a VA-backed loan rather than a finance charge. of subsequent use.
The new loan must be for repairs or construction and must be obtained within 3 years of the date the house was damaged or destroyed.
Finally, the law revises the eligibility deadline for Vietnam War veterans, who served in the Republic of Vietnam, expanding the start of the qualifying era from February 28, 1961 to November 1, 1955.
“I am pleased to report that one year after its enactment, the law has improved access to benefits and improved the programs and quality of care Veterans receive from VA in multiple ways, particularly education, home loans and funeral benefits.” Principal Assistant Assistant Secretary for Benefits Mike Frueh
First-ever Tribal and Indian Affairs Committee
As part of VA’s efforts to ensure it takes care of the country’s veterans, VA created its first-ever Tribal and Indian Affairs Advisory Committee. The Committee will provide advice and guidance to the VA Secretary on all matters relating to Indian Tribes, Tribal Organizations, Native Hawaiian Organizations, and Native American Veterans.
The group provides an unparalleled voice in how programs, policies and services can be delivered, providing for the approximately 160,000 American Indians, Native Hawaiians and Alaska Native Veterans across the country.
In just one year, the Isakson-Roe Act has made significant progress in reducing barriers and addressing the specific concerns of veterans. The law serves as a clear practice of VA’s ongoing commitment to ensuring veterans have access to the best care and benefits available.
Increases support for veteran burial needs
The Isakson-Roe Act enacted provisions allowing the National Cemetery Administration to improve VA’s ability to meet the burial needs of more veterans and their family members.
The increased monetary stipend will cover transportation costs for eligible veterans to be buried in state and tribal cemeteries funded by the VA grant. Beneficiaries of eligible veterans may receive increased payments for funeral expenses and parcel allowances.
Families may also receive reimbursement for external burial receptacles purchased privately for eligible burials at state and tribal cemeteries funded by the VA grant.
Increased financial assistance is just one way the Isakson-Roe Act is reaching more veterans and their families. VA is also implementing program expansion for eligible deceased individuals at county veterans cemeteries funded by VA grants.
“The National Cemetery Administration honors the legacy of Senator Johnny Isakson and his dedication to improving programs that meet the burial needs of veterans. Burial and funeral benefits were expanded to help our veteran community, and the Act authorized innovative ways to commemorate the service of veterans and recognize their lost loved ones. Undersecretary for Memorial Affairs Matt Quinn
Fulfills the NCA’s mission to honor veterans with lasting tributes
We have increased funding for the operation and maintenance of beneficiary cemeteries and can authorize funds to train employees of beneficiary cemeteries.
For families who do not opt for burial but wish to preserve the cremated remains of a beloved veteran, VA can provide a memorial plaque or cremation urn.
VA may include on an eligible Veteran’s headstone or government-provided marker inscription information for the Veteran’s spouse or dependent child.
These additional benefits and services accomplish NCA’s mission to honor veterans and eligible family members with final resting places and lasting tributes that commemorate their service and sacrifice to our nation.
Here is the first blog post on the achievements of the Act.