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Opening Statement of Hon. Bruce L. Braley, Ranking Democratic Member, Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity

Today’s legislative hearing includes four bills before us that address some of the urgent needs of our veteran’s population.  These bills: provide education benefits; extend temporary adaptation grants for our disabled veterans; recognize small businesses for their contribution to employing veterans, and; penalize fraudulent veteran owned small businesses.

Included in today’s hearing is H.R. 1671, the Andrew Connolly Veterans’ Housing Act which I introduced yesterday.  This bill seeks to extend the Temporary Residence Adaptation (TRA) grant through December 2016.  The TRA permits the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, to award a grant to a service-disabled veteran who is temporarily residing in a residence owned by a member of the veteran's family and make adaptations necessary to meet the veteran's mobility needs. 

Currently the legislation is set to terminate on December 31, 2011, which is why I am extending this to December 31, 2016.  This grant is important to service-connected veterans who return home with devastating injuries.  These veterans need a caretaker while they rehabilitate, and these caretakers are generally family members.  In order to provide disabled veterans with the independence they need while they recuperate, different types of adaptations need to be made to a family’s home while the veteran temporarily lives with them.

Finally, I would like to recognize Andrew Connolly, a disabled veteran who has received a specially adaptive housing grant and is here to talk about how this grant has impacted his life.  Andrew served in both Egypt and Iraq as part of the Iowa Army National Guard’s 133rd Infantry and is visiting us today from my district.  I would like to thank him for traveling from Iowa to be here today and for his continued service by fighting for veteran issues.

I would like to thank all our panelists and I look forward to receiving feedback on the bills before us today.