American Samoa delegate welcomes House passage of four veterans bills
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Congresswoman Uifa’atali Amata, American Samoa's delegate to the U.S. Congress, welcomed the House of Representatives' passage of four bipartisan veterans bills that she cosponsored.
“It’s a pleasure to support these legislative efforts to improve services for our Veterans,” Amata said. “Each of these bills is very important to our nation’s veterans, as supported by major veterans service organizations, and will make a difference for them in key areas including accessing VA services, home purchases, student assistance, and benefits to the families of fallen heroes.”
Amata cosponsored the following four House-passed bills:
H.R. 7939 - Student Veteran Emergency Relief Act of 2022, led by Rep. Mike Levin (D-CA), with Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC), Rep. Aumua Amata (American Samoa), and Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA). This bill extends GI Bill flexibilities that Congress initially established for COVID-19 to all emergencies, closing gaps in benefits for veterans under all future presidential emergency declarations regarding tuition, housing, and other necessary services.
H.R. 7846 - Veterans’ Compensation Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) Act of 2022, led by Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA), with Rep. Troy Nehls (R-TX), Rep. Aumua Amata (American Samoa), and Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA). This bill boosts compensation for certain benefits to disabled veterans and military families including clothing allowance, and dependency and indemnity benefits paid to survivors and families of service members who died in the line of duty or suffer from a service-related injury or disease, ensuring that these recipients do not face reductions from inflation.
H.R. 5916 - Wounded Warrior Access Act, led by Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA) with Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), Rep. Aumua Amata (American Samoa), Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA), Rep. Jenniffer González-Colón (R-PR), and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA). This bill streamlines the process for veterans to submit a claim for benefits to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), improving access to their C-Files by allowing them to request access via an online portal and receive a PDF copy of their C-file. Currently, veterans must travel to regional VA locations or mail a form to request a paper or CD copy of their C-file, slowing down the process for them to receive benefits.
H.R. 8260 - Faster Payments to Veterans Survivors’ Act of 2022, led by Rep. Chris Pappas (D-NH), with Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC), Rep. Aumua Amata (American Samoa), and 28 other Members of the House. This bill improves the VA processes for identifying, locating, and paying hard-to-find survivors of recently deceased veterans. According to the VA, at one point in 2020, the VA owed more than $155 million in undisbursed life insurance benefits to nearly 15,000 individuals, representing approximately $10,500 per family. The bill requires several key procedural improvements to complete these payments within two years, and report back to Congress.
She also commends this bill passed Tuesday:
H.R. 7735 - Improving Access to the VA Home Loan Benefit Act of 2022, led by Ranking Member Rep. Mike Bost (R-IL), Veterans' Affairs Committee, with Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA). This bill streamlines the home buying process for veterans and their families, and requires the VA to update to a modern digital appraisal process, helping veterans reduce costs and complete home purchases faster.