Congresswoman Elaine Luria Advocates for Vulnerable Veterans at Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Subcommittee Hearing

July 9, 2020
Press Release
Chair Luria led discussion on “Stuck in Red Tape: How VA's Regulatory Policies Prevent Veterans with Bad Paper from Accessing Critical Benefits.”

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Yesterday, Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs (DAMA) subcommittee Chair Luria led an oversight hearing dedicated to ensuring that vulnerable veterans are given a fair VA character of discharge determination. VA character of discharge determinations impact benefit entitlement possibilities for veterans, and anything less than honorable leaves many without support after they return home.

“We must determine how the most vulnerable veterans can access critical benefits and health care at the VA,” said Congresswoman Luria. “Many veterans who are discharged under certain circumstances are at high risk for homelessness and suicide as they are often diagnosed with mental health conditions such as PTSD and Military Sexual Trauma. The VA’s rules and regulations must change to ensure any veteran—regardless of the character of their discharge—receives fair consideration for much needed benefits.”

Many veterans with “bad paper” believe they are ineligible for VA benefits; therefore, Congresswoman Luria questioned witnesses regarding the outreach and education they are doing to ensure more veterans can get the benefits they earned. Finally, Congresswoman Luria questioned what changes must be made to VA’s regulations on character of discharge to improve benefit eligibility.

You can find Congresswoman Luria’s full lines of questioning here and here, and opening remarks here.

This hearing builds on Congresswoman Luria’s work on the House Armed Services Committee. Last week, during the full committee markup of the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, Luria passed an amendment to require the services to report on uncharacterized discharges, another form of “bad paper” that prohibits veterans from accessing the benefits they have earned.

Congresswoman Elaine Luria represents Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District. She serves on the House Armed Services Committee, where she is the Vice Chair of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, and the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, where she serves as Chair of the Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Subcommittee.