Congressman Braley addresses veterans from the Quad Cities Honor Flight at the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC.
Our veterans have made a great sacrifice in their service to our country. That’s why I’m working hard in Congress to hold the Veterans Administration accountable, ensure that our veterans have the best healthcare they can possibly get, and ensure the VA is equipped to respond in an efficient and timely manner to the many needs of our veterans.
Fighting for Veterans Employment
I’m committed to improving employment and education opportunities for Veterans. I've introduced the Combat Veterans Back to Work Act to provide a payroll tax exemption to employers who hire unemployed veterans, Guardsmen, and Reservists recently returned from a deployment. The bill was incorporated into two new tax credits that were signed into law by President Obama in November 2011. The first, known as the Returning Heroes tax credit, provides up to $5,600 in tax credits for every unemployed veteran hired by an employer. The second, called the Wounded Warrior tax credit, doubles the existing tax credit for firms that hire unemployed veterans with service-connected disabilities.
Fighting for Transparency of Education Options for Veterans
Last June, I passed an amendment that would reduce aggressive and deceptive marketing to service members and veterans by some educational institutions. The legislation would also provide veterans with standard information about post-secondary institutions to help vets make more informed choices about college. On January 10, 2013 the President signed this bill into law.
Securing Benefits for Iowa National Guard Veterans
After being short-changed on respite leave between deployments, I led an effort to change the law so that members of the National Guard - including 648 Iowa Guardsmen and Guardswomen - received a payment of $200 per day for their Post-Deployment/Mobilization Absence benefit.
When an error in their orders prevented Iowa National Guard Troops from receiving GI Bill Benefits, I stood up to the Pentagon to secure GI Bill Benefits for 3,548 members of the Iowa National Guard.
Improving Veterans’ Access to Quality Healthcare
I’ve introduced the Veterans Access to Care Act to expand veterans’ access to quality healthcare by helping the Veterans Administration and state veterans’ homes recruit more highly-qualified doctors, nurses, and mental health providers to provide services to America’s veterans.
This legislation will allow veterans’ healthcare facilities to hire from a top-notch pool of medical talent committed to practicing in the public interest. This will improve veterans’ quality of care by encouraging the nation’s best and brightest young doctors to work in veterans’ healthcare facilities.
Fighting for Injured and Disabled Veterans
Many veterans face severe injuries and have special needs after they return from combat. To help solve this problem, I introduced a bill to help injured and disabled veterans retrofit their homes after they return from combat. The bill was signed by President Obama on August 6, 2012.
The Andrew Connolly Veterans’ Housing Act is named after Andrew Connolly of Dubuque – who returned from Iraq with a tumor in his spine and was restricted to a wheelchair. Connolly was able to get a grant to move into a retrofitted home that helped him move around more easily.
Andrew Connolly testified before the Veterans’ Affairs Economic Opportunity Subcommittee in May, 2011.
Sadly, Connolly passed away on August 30, 2011 and never saw the legislation he inspired passed into law. In November 2011 in Dubuque, volunteers gathered to observe the first ever Andrew Connolly Day of Service to honor the legacy of Dubuque native and Iowa National Guard veteran Andrew Connolly, who never stopped urging others to "pay it forward" in every aspect of their lives. His legacy lives on.
I also introduced the Housing for Blinded Veterans Act, that applied the American Medical Association and federal government’s 20/200 standard for blindness to the VA’s adaptive housing program. Before this bill, veterans could be considered “legally blind,” but not blind enough to apply for the VA adaptive housing program. This law expanded the eligibility for the program to more blind veterans and create a more uniform standard for blindness across federal agencies. This fix was signed into law on August 6, 2012.
Working to address the VA backlog
Another issue facing our veterans is the unacceptable disability claims backlog that has kept hundreds of thousands of our veterans from receiving the care and resources they’ve earned.
See a timeline of my continued effort to reduce this backlog HERE.