By Staff Reports
(Victor Valley)– Rep. Paul Cook (R-Yucca Valley) this week had bills advance out of key Veterans’ Affairs subcommittees. Both bills were forwarded favorably to the full committee for further consideration.
Cook’s “Prioritizing Urgent Claims for Veterans Act” was forwarded favorably out of the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs on July 17 as part of an omnibus bill sponsored by Chairman Jon Runyan (R-NJ). Cook’s “Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program Reauthorization Act” was forwarded favorably out of the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity on July 18.
The Prioritizing Urgent Claims for Veterans Act requires the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to give priority status to those veterans who file claims and meet one of the following criteria: 1) have attained the age of 70; 2) are terminally ill; 3) have a life-threatening illness; 4) are former POWs; 5) are seriously or very seriously injured; or 6) have claims that are being reviewed again in relation to a previously denied claim relating to military sexual trauma.
Cook said, “These veterans are our nation’s heroes, and the current veterans’ claims backlog is doing them a terrible disservice. There are too many veterans that can’t get access to the healthcare they deserve. My bill won’t solve everything, but it will help those veterans most in need get the care they deserve.”
The Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program Reauthorization Act renews a program started in 1987 to assist veterans in getting off the streets. The program provides grant opportunities to organizations assisting homeless veterans in job training, enabling them to re-enter the workforce. These organizations provide services including job placement, training, and development as well as career counseling and resume preparation. It also provides support services such as clothing distribution, transportation assistance, and medical and substance abuse treatment.
Cook said, “The sad reality is that many of the men and women living on the streets are veterans. This Reauthorization Act will provide them with a better chance to succeed. They bravely served our country and it’s important that we help them get to a place where they can support themselves.”
A member of the House Armed Services, Veterans’ Affairs, and Foreign Affairs Committees, Cook is a former educator who served as an infantry officer and retired as a Colonel after 26 years in the U.S. Marine Corps. He was awarded the Bronze Star medal with valor device and two Purple Hearts for actions in combat.