Statement on Veterans Day
On Veterans Day, Americans pause to salute the brave men and women who have served our country to protect and defend freedom and democracy. Because of their many sacrifices, veterans and members of the Armed Forces deserve nothing less than our ongoing commitment to care for their needs both during and after their service to our country.
As the 115th Congress draws to a close, I’m proud to have been part of many successful efforts to strengthen our nation’s commitment to caring for the needs of veterans. Last year I cosponsored and voted for the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act which lifted the 15-year time limit on the use of veterans’ GI bill education benefits. The law also expanded GI benefits to all post-9/11 Purple Heart recipients, and created a pilot program for veterans to take high technology courses. This law will ensure more veterans have access to the economic opportunities that come with a college education following their service. More recently, I voted for the Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act to increase disability benefits for disabled veterans, and for spouses and children of fallen servicemembers to ensure their benefits keep pace with inflation.
I’m very proud that Congressional Democrats helped secure a $5 billion increase in funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). These funds will be used to improve mental health and suicide prevention services for veterans, invest in new and existing VA facilities, and create an electronic health records system within the VA.
I’m also pleased to announce that I will introduce legislation in the coming days to make it easier for non-profit veterans organizations to qualify for 501(c)19 tax exempt status. Currently, veterans’ organizations can qualify for this tax-exempt status if at least 75 percent of their members are veterans. Some organizations have lost their tax-exempt status and been forced to shut down as elderly members pass away. My legislation changes this requirement to allow the spouses, widows, or widowers of a veteran to count toward this eligibility requirement. The spouses of our veterans have made tremendous sacrifices and are often deeply involved in the work of these groups. My legislation will ensure organizations that are dedicated to improving the wellbeing of veterans can continue their critical work without the fear of losing this important tax-exemption.
We have an abiding obligation to serve the brave men, women and their families who have served our country. So, on this Veterans Day let us honor their service with actions that fulfill our commitment to our servicemembers and their families, past and present…actions that are worthy of them from a deeply grateful nation.
Anna G. Eshoo