Rep. Sherrill, Miller-Meeks Introduce Bipartisan VR&E NEED Act
Washington, DC - On Friday, Representative Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11) and Representative Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-02) introduced the bipartisan VR&E NEED Act, which would ensure disabled veterans get the support they need to enter the civilian workforce through the VA’s Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E) program.
Similar to Rep. Sherrill’s and Rep. Miller-Meek’s GI Bill NEED Act (H.R. 2167), this legislation protects disabled veterans from having their VR&E benefits expire if they could not utilize them as a result of the COVID-19 national emergency or other related reasons. The Student Veterans of America have championed this legislation as part of their prior bipartisan advocacy for veterans’ GI Bill educational benefits.
“Disabled veterans sacrificed so much, and deserve to utilize their full benefits regardless of circumstances beyond their control. These veterans have so much experience, insight, and skill to offer the civilian world,” said Rep. Sherrill. “By following the model of the GI Bill NEED Act, we are ensuring the VA Secretary can provide these men and women the extra support they need to start a business or find their place in the workforce, without concern that the COVID national emergency might cut short the deadline to use program benefits they sacrificed so much to earn.”
“The Veterans Readiness and Employment Program is an excellent path for our veterans to receive the education and training they need to reenter the workforce. By pausing the timer on their benefits when programs are closed, we preserve the opportunities veterans have earned through their service to our country,” said Rep. Miller-Meeks. “Our disabled veterans sacrificed so much in service to our country, so now it is our turn to serve them. I am proud to once again partner with Rep. Sherrill to help our veterans access the education they need to find meaningful employment.”
The VR&E National Emergency Extended Deadline Act (VR&E NEED Act) will allow the Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs to pause the 12 years’ time limit to use VR&E benefits during national emergency and other crises when eligible disabled veterans are prevented from leveraging those benefits through no fault of their own. Despite having a wealth of skill and experience, disabled veterans can still face unique challenges in entering the civilian workforce. VR&E programs are critical to provide training and support that enable disabled veterans to be as successful as possible in their future employment.
"The pandemic has highlighted the unique challenges student veterans face during large-scale public health emergencies and natural disasters, including for some, the risk of losing already-limited time to use their education benefits,” said Justin Hauschild, Legal Fellow with Student Veterans of America (SVA). “VA needs permanent flexibility to ensure veterans do not lose out on valuable time to use their earned benefits during these periods of unexpected hardship, and SVA thanks Congresswoman Sherrill for championing both the GI Bill NEED Act and VR&E NEED Act to provide these important protections going forward.