LI Congressional Delegation Call for Passage of the Fairness for Veterans Act
The Long Island Congressional Delegation banned together Today, at the Veterans Memorial in Eisenhower Park, calling for passage of the Fairness for Veterans Act (H.R. 4683). U.S. Representatives Lee Zeldin (NY-01), Peter King (NY-02), Steve Israel (NY-03) and Kathleen Rice (NY-04) were joined by Veterans and local advocates in support of this crucial piece of legislation, introduced by Representatives Mike Coffman (R-CO), Tim Walz (D-MN) and co-sponsored by Long Island’s four Representatives.
For generations now, our service members return home, after bearing witness to the unspeakable atrocities of war. For tens of thousands of our combat veterans, suffering from PTSD and TBI, help is not available due “bad paper discharges”. They are left to suffer silently, often in isolation because of a technicality on paperwork. The bipartisan Fairness for Veterans Act would allow Veterans who have received less than honorable discharges, related to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) conditions to be diagnosed and treated.
“It is so important to fight for our veterans who have fought for us. The Fairness for Veterans Act is absolutely essential for veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder who were separated from military service with a less than honorable discharge. We must ensure that our nation’s most vulnerable veterans receive the care, treatment and benefits they have both earned and deserve. I will continue working with my colleagues in the House to ensure passage of this critical bill.” -Congressman Lee Zeldin
In addition to the health benefits, these service men and women would have their discharge status’ upgraded, creating a presumption in their favor. In other words, if a combat veteran has been diagnosed with PTSD or TBI and appeals his/her discharge designation, the military Discharge Review Boards (DRBs) must consider the appeal with the presumption that this condition contributed to their discharge.
“We owe it to the men and women who put themselves in harm’s way to ensure that they have the support and access to the very best in resources, treatment and outreach. The Fairness for Veterans Act will do just that and make sure our veterans are treated fairly and afforded every opportunity,” -Congressman Peter King.
Iraq War Veteran and a member of Representative Rice’ district, Kris Goldsmith, joined the Long Island congressional delegation at the podium. The soldier had received a general discharge, (just below honorable) due to behavior related to his then undiagnosed PTSD. Goldsmith, has been a long time advocate of this issue, with his fellow Iraq and Afghanistan war Veterans, raising awareness and the need to build support in Congress for the Fairness for Veterans Act.
“This bill’s introduction in today’s Congress is proof that Congress works… Veterans are the one thing that Republicans and Democrats, even in these hyper-partisan times, can work together to support. The Fairness for Veterans Act is a bill that would help veterans who receive less than honorable discharges gain access to the benefits that they earned while serving in combat.” -Iraq War Veteran Kris Goldsmith
“It’s an absolute injustice that anyone who serves our country honorably in combat and suffers from a mental health condition as a result of that service would be other-than-honorably discharged and cut off from key benefits and health care services because of actions that were directly linked to that condition…But we know that’s exactly what’s happened to tens of thousands of combat veterans in recent years… I want to thank Kris Goldsmith, Congressmen Coffman and Walz, my fellow members from Long Island and all of our Democratic and Republican colleagues who worked together to move this bill forward, and I’ll keep working to make sure we get it passed as soon as possible with the strong bipartisan support it deserves.” -Congresswoman Kathleen Rice
“Our veterans should never be denied the benefits they deserve to cover mental health care needed after their service. When our men and women come home with invisible wounds of war, we need to support them and help get them back on their feet. I am proud to stand with my Long Island colleagues to support this legislation and will continue to fight to deliver for New York veterans and their families,” -Congressman Steve Israel.
The Fairness for Veterans Act Supporters include:
- The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW)
- Military Officers Association of America (MOAA)
- Disabled American Veterans (DAV)
- Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA)
- Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA)
- United Soldiers and Sailors of America
- Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). Click To View IAVA’s full letter of support