Legislation aims to streamline, improve benefits for vets

A bill introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives last week aims to cut down on the amount of paperwork necessary for veterans to receive federal health care benefits.

The legislation was introduced by Bill Owens, the Democrat representing New York's 23rd Congressional District.

Owens says the bill would automatically enroll eligible veterans into the VA healthcare benefit system, cutting out hours of paperwork for returning service members.

That leaves vets with more time to spend reintegrating into civilian life, Owens says.

The law would direct the defense and veterans affairs departments to make sure eligible members of the Armed Forces are automatically enrolled within 45 days of ending active duty service.

"We owe a tremendous debt to American service members returning home from operations overseas," Owens said, adding that lawmakers must ensure that service men and women have quick and easy access to the benefits they have earned.

"Too often, eligible veterans are delayed or kept out of the system simply because of the lengthy process required to enroll," he said. "This bill will streamline the process and save veterans valuable time that can be better spent with their families or finding a job back home."

According to Owens, service members returning from deployment are generally focused on visiting family or finding work - not the lengthy process required for enrolling in VA care.

"This bill honors an individual's service to the nation by creating a logical process that takes the burden off veterans, enrolling them in the VA as soon as their transition to veteran status is complete," Owens said.

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