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Rep. Zeldin Re-Introduces Three of His Bills to Help Veterans

February 9, 2017
Press Release

Washington, DC - Congressman Lee Zeldin (R, NY-1) announced that he re-introduced three of his bills to help veterans, including legislation to expand the PFC Joseph P. Dwyer Veteran Peer Support Program to the national level (H.R. 897), the Flexible VA Loan Guarantee Act (H.R. 815), which would eliminate the loan limit or the “maximum guarantee amount” of a loan that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) can guarantee for a veteran, and the Veterans Estate Transfer to Survivors Act, or VETS Act (H.R. 814), which would require the VA to pay accrued benefits to the estate of a deceased veteran. 

Congressman Zeldin re-introduced H.R. 897, to expand nationally the PFC Joseph P. Dwyer Veteran Peer Support Program, or “Dwyer Program,” a peer-to-peer support program for veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). The Dwyer Program was created in honor of PFC Joseph Dwyer, a Iraq War veteran from Mount Sinai, NY who sadly lost his battle with PTSD. 

Congressman Zeldin said, “Expanding nationally the Dwyer Program, which is currently operating in both Nassau and Suffolk counties, eventually to all counties in the U.S., will ensure that every veteran can have access to a peer-to-peer support group. With the VA reporting that an estimated 22 veterans a day commit suicide, this national expansion is long overdue. This bipartisan legislation has received support from the entire Long Island delegation in both the 114th and now the 115th Congress, and I look forward to continuing to work with my House colleagues across the aisle to advance this bill to ensure all veterans across this great nation receive the proper treatment, care and support that they need and deserve.”

The Flexible VA Loan Guarantee Act (H.R. 815), which Congressman Zeldin also reintroduced, would eliminate the loan limit or the “maximum guarantee amount” of a loan that the VA can guarantee for a veteran, providing the VA with the flexibility to determine the appropriate limit for all veterans' loans. 

“Providing the VA with the flexibility they need to determine the appropriate limit for veterans’ loans will be extremely helpful for veterans who live in areas with a high cost of real estate, such as Long Island,” Congressman Zeldin continued. “I have heard from many Suffolk County veterans concerned about securing VA home loans given the limits under current law. The Flexible VA Loan Guarantee Act is a commonsense VA reform that has bipartisan support to help countless veterans across the country.”

Last year, the Flexible VA Loan Guarantee Act was packaged into H.R. 3016, the Veterans Employment, Education, and Healthcare Improvement Act, which passed the House of Representatives with unanimous bipartisan support. 

The Veterans Estate Transfer to Survivors Act, or VETS Act (H.R. 814), another bipartisan bill that Congressman Zeldin re-introduced, would require the VA to pay certain benefits that were earned by a veteran to the veteran's estate. Under current law, if a veteran passes away while the VA is still reviewing a claim, the VA no longer has to award the earned benefits. Currently, only a veteran's spouse, minor child, or dependent parent(s) are eligible to collect the accrued benefits. By adding the estate to the current list of beneficiaries, adult children could now also receive the benefits earned, should there be no other qualifying family members. 

The VETS Act, which was amended into the Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2015 (H.R. 675), passed the House of Representatives last year with unanimous bipartisan support.

“The VETS Act is another commonsense reform to VA benefit payouts that will help veterans and their families on Long Island and across the country, ensuring our veteran families, who rightfully earned and deserve their benefits, actually receive their benefits, even after the veteran passes away. There is so much more that Congress can be doing to improve the quality of life for our veterans. I look forward to passing these bills to bring much-needed support and assistance to our veterans and their families across the United States,” Congressman Zeldin concluded.