Rep. John Hall Leads Fight for Veterans

Freshman’s First Bill to Pass House Protects Benefits for 3 Million

(Washington, D.C ) – Congressman John Hall, a member of the House
Veterans’ Affairs Committee, has introduced legislation that is slated
for floor action today in the House of Representatives. His bill, the
Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act (H.R.1284), will
increase veterans’ pension and compensation payments this year.  This
will be the first bill introduced by Hall to pass the House of
Representatives since he became a Congressman in January. After passage by the
House, the bill will go to the U.S. Senate for further action.

This legislation and two other new bills Hall has co-sponsored—the
Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide prevention Act (H.R. 327) and the Dr. James
Veterans Vision Equity Act (H.R. 797)—are expected to pass the
House and move to the Senate for further consideration.

“Together, these new bills reaffirm the intention of Congress to care
and provide for the needs of America’s veterans and their
families,” said Hall, Chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on
Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs. “We must uphold our nation’s
commitments to veterans, and I am pleased that the House is acting to
prevent inflation from eroding the purchasing power of millions of
veterans and their dependents.”

H.R.1284 would provide a cost-of-living adjustment to the rates of
disability compensation provided to our nation’s disabled veterans, their
dependents and survivors.  Without this bill, payments would not keep
up with rising living costs resulting from inflation. The new COLA bill
will provide disability compensation to 3,220,031 veterans with
service-connected disabilities in fiscal year 2008.

The Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act (H.R. 327) – named
after an Iraq veteran from Iowa who committed suicide because of PTSD –
will improve the VA’s ability to diagnose and treat veterans who seem
at risk.  It will also give veterans who feel suicidal better options
to reach out to the VA for assistance and improve VA response.

At a hearing of the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial
Affairs in Washington on March 13, Chairman Hall heard the testimony of
Jon Soltz, an Iraq war veteran who said suicide among Iraq war veterans
is a serious problem and a largely unseen cost of the war Iraq.
Further, there has been recent news coverage of an Iraq war veteran who
committed suicide in Minnesota after being turned away for treatment from the

“It is unacceptable for any veteran who feels suicidal to be turned
away from the VA,” said Hall. “Veterans continue to be affected by
their combat experiences and deserve immediate, skillful care and
treatment. The VA has failed to plan for the extended costs of the war in
Iraq and Congress is forced to act to improve care for veterans.”

The Dr. James Allen Veterans Vision Equity Act  (H.R. 797) increases
benefits for veterans who are blinded while serving in the Armed Forces.
Rep. Hall is a co-sponsor of the legislation, and the bill passed first
in his subcommittee.

“This bill upgrades the VA standard to what the rest of the Federal
government considers vision loss and disability,” said Hall.  “Our
veterans deserve no less.”

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