Washington, DC—Congressman Jim Himes continued his effort this week to help ensure veterans have reliable access to the benefits they earned through their service. Votes the Congressman took will expand and improve Veterans Affairs health care, and a workshop the Congressman held Monday helped veterans apply for the new college tuition benefits available from the Webb-Mitchell G.I. Bill.

Earlier this week, the U.S. House passed two bills that will help ensure sufficient, timely, and predictable funding for veterans health care.

The Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act (H.R. 1016) authorizes Congress to approve veterans’ medical care funding one year in advance to better anticipate and meet the demand for veterans’ health care services. The issue of advance funding is a top priority for veteran service organizations. Over 40 groups, including the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, have come out in support of the legislation.

“Too often the men and women who bravely served our country, for one reason or another, do not have access to the care they need, and that must change,” said Congressman Himes.

The Women Veterans Health Care Improvement Act (H.R. 1211) will expand and improve VA health care services for the 1.8 million women who have served their country.  H.R. 1211 requires an assessment of women’s health care programs as well as medical care for newborn children of women veterans, enhancement of VA sexual trauma programs, and PTSD treatment for women. It also establishes of a pilot program for child care services through the VA.

Monday, over 20 people joined Congressman Himes at a workshop for veterans where they could apply on-site for the expanded tuition benefits made available by the Webb-Mitchell G.I. Bill, which goes into effect August 1. Veterans counselors from local colleges and a representative from the VA outlined the assistance available to student veterans and provided guidance on how to apply for college or vocational programs.

“G.I. Bill benefits have not, until now, kept pace with the rising cost of a college education, and those who stood in harm’s way for us are increasingly finding it difficult to attend school after serving,” said Congressman Himes. “Now, recently discharged veterans can serve our country and their community after leaving the military by continuing their education and contributing to our economic recovery.”