House Passes Bipartisan Bill With Congresswoman Elaine Luria’s Amendment to Help Blinded Veterans

July 23, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON – The House today passed a bipartisan bill that includes Congresswoman Elaine Luria’s provision to ensure blinded veterans receive housing accommodations they need to live independently.

Congresswoman Luria’s amendment to H.R. 3504, the Ryan Kules Specially Adaptive Housing Improvement Act, would expand the pool of veterans eligible to receive VA-administered Specialty Adapted Housing (SAH) grants to include blinded veterans. These grants fund important housing renovations such as ramps, handrails, grab bars, and sliding doors.

H.R. 3504 is sponsored by Congressman Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and incorporates Congresswoman Luria’s amendment.

“Blinded veterans served heroically and sacrificed for our nation. They deserve equal access to opportunities for growth and independence, and I am honored to champion their cause,” Congresswoman Elaine Luria said. “Many of these brave men and women need these adjustments to their homes now. Our blinded veterans shouldn’t have to wait any longer.”

A 20-year Navy veteran, Congresswoman Luria is an active advocate for blinded veterans. Earlier this year, she met with a group of blinded veterans to learn about their unique struggles and immediately pledged to work on their behalf.

Currently, only blinded veterans who have lost the use of one or both legs are eligible for VA-administered SAH grants. As a result, VA turns away blinded veterans who need assistance for the sole reason that they can use their legs.

Congresswoman Luria’s amendment – which unanimously cleared committee earlier this month – would correct this by changing the criteria for SAH grant eligibility to ensure that blinded veterans get the housing adaptations they need.

Congresswoman Luria submitted the following remarks to the Congressional Record:

I rise in strong support of H.R. 3504.

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of meeting a group of blinded veterans at my office in Washington. I learned about the unique struggles that these courageous men and women face every day. I immediately pledged to be a voice for these veterans.

The Specially Adapted Housing grant program, also known as SAH, helps reconfigure disabled veterans’ homes so they can live independently. This program funds renovations like installing ramps, handrails, grab bars, and sliding doors.

Under current law, only veterans who meet one or more of seven narrow categories of disability qualify for SAH grants. A blinded veteran must have lost the use of one or both legs to be eligible for grants to fund these necessary renovations. As a result, the VA turns away blind veterans who need housing assistance for the sole reason that they can use their legs.

I offered an amendment to H.R. 3504 to make blind veterans eligible for the SAH and ensure they can adapt their homes to live independently and with their families. I am proud the bill before us today includes my amendment.

Blinded veterans served heroically and sacrificed for our nation. They deserve equal access to opportunities for growth and independence, and I am honored to champion their cause.

Many of these brave men and women need these adjustments to their homes now. Our blinded veterans shouldn’t have to wait any longer.

I urge support of this bill.

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.

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