House passes Slotkin’s Solid Start Act to help veterans transition to civilian life – The Livingston Post.com

After threatening to vote down U.S. Representative Elissa Slotkin’s bipartisan Solid Start Act bill aimed at better connecting veterans transitioning to civilian life with benefits and services offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs, Republicans in the House backed down in support of the measure, which passed Thursday.

On Wednesday night, the group of House Republicans — many of whom are co-sponsors of the bill — belatedly threatened to defeat the bill on a single 16-word provision: ensure the VA “Provides women veterans with information that is tailored to their specific health care and benefit needs.

Although the provision has appeared in previous versions of the bill, including the version that received unanimous support in the Senate just a few weeks ago, a group of House Republicans opposed the bill on the grounds that provision could mean the AV could provide advice. and abortion services to female veterans who have been victims of rape or incest, as well as those who have life-threatening complications from pregnancy.

In a fiery speech in the House, Slotkin lambasted the group for its efforts to politicize a veterans bill. Slotkin continued to work to pass the bill on Thursday, and by early evening the Solid Start Act passed with broad bipartisan support and is expected to be signed into law by the president in the coming days.

“This is an excellent bipartisan bill that will make a real difference for veterans going through their first year after returning to civilian life. I know how difficult transitioning out of the military can be, and thanks to this bill, the VA will now be responsible for proactively contacting the military at least three times during their first year of separation from the military to connect them with the myriad benefits they have earned, said Slotkin, D-Lansing. “This was a bipartisan bill from the start: it was passed unanimously by the Senate just weeks ago and by the House before as part of the STRONG Veterans Act. That’s why it was so disturbing that some of my fellow Republicans threatened to defeat this veterans bill at the 11th hour, turning it into a political fight against abortion at the expense of our veterans.

“The GOP turned a bipartisan bill into a partisan fight and tried to hold this legislation hostage for one simple reason: they continue to want to ban all abortions, for any reason, in the states and at the federal level. “, she said. . “They oppose allowing veterans access to abortion when they have been raped, are victims of incest or when a doctor confirms that a pregnancy is a danger to the health of the mother. They believe that politicians are better judges than doctors when it comes to a woman’s life. They happily put politics above our veterans to prove how extreme they are on this issue. Fortunately, their leaders saw what a mistake this was and overthrew their opposition.

A number of Republicans who pledged to vote against the bill on Wednesday ended up voting for Thursday. Slotkin’s bill will codify the VA’s Solid Start program so that separating service members will receive several VA outreaches within a year of their separation from the military to ensure they are aware of the IL benefits and programs available to them. The bill also ensures that the VA continues to improve the program by specifying key program requirements, including:

• Call each veteran three times during the first year after separation.

• Prioritize outreach to veterans who accessed mental health resources prior to their separation.

• Ensure calls are tailored to the needs of each veteran by conducting quality assurance testing.

• Collect up-to-date contact information during the transition process.

• Encourage transitioning veterans to authorize other points of contact who can reach them in the event the veteran is unavailable for direct VA outreach.

• Follow up on missed phone calls through mailings and other outreach activities to ensure the veteran still receives similar information.

The Solid Start Act has been endorsed by the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), American Legion, and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). As a military wife and army mother-in-law, Slotkin said this issue is personal to her. She prioritized veteran support legislation during her time in Congress. Last year, she introduced the bipartisan Veterans Burning Fire Exposure Recognition Act, a bill aimed at addressing the specific needs of veterans exposed to toxic outdoor burning fires while they served in the armed forces. This bill was enacted in August as part of the Honoring our PACT law.

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