Jul 21, 2021 / Defense/Veterans

McMorris Rodgers, Levin Lead Bipartisan Legislation to Improve Access to Veteran Services

Washington, D.C. (July 21, 2021) – Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) and Congressman Mike Levin (CA-49) today introduced the bipartisan Commitment to Veteran Support and Outreach (CVSO) Act. The bill would authorize federal funding for county veterans service officers (CVSOs) who are often the best resource to help veterans and their families understand resources at their disposal, file benefit claims, and represent veterans in VA hearings.

“I have had too many conversations with veterans in Eastern Washington who tell me they don’t have the resources they need to access their benefits. This is heartbreaking, and it should not be the case,” said Rodgers. “By funding additional VSOs in communities across the country – especially in rural areas – we are making a commitment to our veterans that we will not let them slip through the cracks. This common sense legislation is overdue, and it will go a long way towards ensuring those who served receive the benefits they’ve earned.”

Many veterans across the country are not utilizing their earned benefits due to a lack of information or ability to complete necessary paperwork. To reduce this underutilization and increase promotion of services, the CVSO Act would strengthen county veterans service officers’ efforts to conduct outreach and provide support to underserved veterans, which can improve overall health and wellness.

“We have a responsibility to ensure that veterans and their families have easy access to the benefits and services that they have earned,” said Levin. “That is why my colleagues and I are reintroducing this bipartisan legislation to support the work of county veterans service officers who interact directly with our local veterans every day. I’m proud to introduce the bicameral CVSO Act and look forward to advancing this legislation through the House with bipartisan support once again.”

Rodgers and Levin were joined in introducing this legislation by Congressmen Matt Rosendale (MT-AL) and Tim Ryan (OH-13). Companion legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Senators Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI).

NOTE: The CVSO Act will authorize $50 million annually for five years for competitive grants to expand the work of CVSOs or comparable entities. VA will award grants to states in order to improve outreach to veterans, assist in the development and submission of claims on behalf of veterans, hire additional CVSOs, and train CVSOs for VA accreditation. To receive funds, a state must submit an application, including a detailed plan for the use of these funds, how they will meet underserved veterans’ needs, and other information.

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