New Hampshire has a strong tradition of military service and honoring our commitment to veterans has been a top priority for Senator Shaheen. A member of the Senate Armed Service Committee, she has been a strong advocate for veterans, working to expand veterans’ access to health care, increase economic opportunity for veterans when they return home and making sure veterans receive the benefits they’ve earned and deserve. Coming from a family with a strong tradition of military service, Senator Shaheen understands the sacrifices service members and their families make and will continue to fight for veterans in New Hampshire and across the country.
Senator Shaheen has worked tirelessly to make health care more accessible for New Hampshire veterans, recently announcing the approval of two new VA health care sites in the North Country. In 2011, Shaheen announced the opening of the VA’s Keene Outreach Clinic which in addition to offering primary care services also houses a Veterans Center, with its own entrance and separate staff, who offer counseling and group therapy for veterans. The Keene facility is a new model for the VA, marking the first time one of its medical centers features both a clinic for primary care and a Veterans Center for counseling in the same location.
Shaheen also worked with the VA to approve the relocation of the Manchester Veterans Center to a larger, safer location in Hooksett after nearly 25 months of delays. The first piece of legislation she introduced in Congress was the Veterans Health Equity Act of 2009, which would require the Department of Veterans Affairs to ensure that every state has a full-service veterans’ hospital or that comparable services are provided by contracting with in-state hospitals.
Shaheen co-sponsored The Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2009 which expanded mental health services and suicide prevention programs for veterans, including National Guard or Reservists and their families. Recently, Shaheen also advanced a provision directing the Defense Department to continue its support of the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program, which funds programs – like the Deployment Cycle Support Program (DCSP) in New Hampshire – that help returning National Guard and Reservists reintegrate to civilian life. Studies suggest that DCSP participants are four times more likely to stay married, four times more likely to stay in the military, and five times less likely to be homeless.
Senator Shaheen has been vocal about the need to fix problems that have plagued the Department of Veteran’s Affairs and address the veterans’ disability claims backlog. The FY 2015 Appropriations bill included multiple Shaheen provisions to help reduce the veterans’ disability claims backlog and improve health care access for New Hampshire veterans. She has also been a lead proponent of establishing veterans’ legal clinics to provide veterans with the legal services they need to fight for their benefits.
Shaheen was the first Senator to introduce legislation to reverse cuts to cost of living adjustments for military retirees that were included in the 2013 bipartisan budget agreement and voted in favor of legislation that ultimately reversed the cuts. Shaheen is a cosponsor of the Retired Pay Restoration Act of 2013, the VOW to Hire Heroes Act, and in 2012 helped protect veterans’ health care programs from across-the-board budget cuts.
Veterans Jobs and Economic Opportunity
Senator Shaheen understands that one of the most important ways to support our veterans is to make sure they are able to get good-paying jobs when they return home. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and Senate Appropriations Committee, Shaheen has made promoting veteran employment a top priority. Shaheen has worked to promote veterans employment by drawing attention to veteran-owned businesses and businesses that hire veterans throughout New Hampshire and has introduced several pieces of legislation that would promote the hiring of veterans and improve access to capital for veteran-owned small businesses.
For example, The Veterans Hiring Act would create an incentive for businesses to hire veterans through a payroll tax cut. Shaheen’s Veterans Entrepreneurship Act would lower the cost of Small Business Administration (SBA) loan programs designed to assist veterans who start their own small businesses. The bill would permanently eliminate fees for veterans applying for SBA Express loans and also improve current SBA programs designed to assist veterans by focusing on pre-deployment financial counseling and emergency assistance. The legislation also includes a provision requiring the Small Business Administration to identify ways to improve its outreach and services for female veterans, particularly through the SBA’s Women Business Centers and Veteran Business Outreach Centers.
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