Washington, D.C. – Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) and Congressman Mike Levin (CA-49) today reintroduced the bipartisan Commitment to Veteran Support and Outreach (CVSO) Act. The bill would authorize federal funding to expand the work of county veterans service officers (CVSOs) who are often the best resource on the ground to help veterans and their families understand resources at their disposal, file benefit claims, and represent veterans in VA hearings.
“Veteran service officers are often the only lifeline connecting veterans and their families with the benefits they earned in service to our country. This is especially true in rural communities where a shortage of VSOs is resulting in too many veterans slipping through the cracks,” said Rodgers. “No one who has put on the uniform should ever feel this way. While our bipartisan bill won’t fix everything, the long overdue investment it makes is a critical first step towards ensuring no veteran ever gets left behind again.”
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 Rep. Mike Levin. “That is why my colleagues and I are reintroducing this bipartisan, bicameral legislation to support the work of county veterans service officers who interact directly with our local veterans every day. I’m proud to spearhead the CVSO Act and I look forward to advancing this legislation with bipartisan support. While these types of bills rarely make national headlines, this is the work that truly makes a difference for our nation’s heroes.”
Rodgers and Levin were joined in reintroducing this legislation by Congressmen Chris Pappas (NH-04) and Brad Finstad (MN-01). Companion legislation has been introduced by Senators Senators Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI).
NOTE: The CVSO Act would authorize competitive grants to expand the work of CVSOs or comparable entities. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will award grants to states in order to improve outreach to veterans; enhance the preparation, presentation, and prosecution of veterans’ benefits claims; 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. A fact sheet is available here.
CLICK HERE to read the bill.