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Opening Statement of Hon. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, Chairwoman, and a Representative in Congress from the State of South Dakota

As some of you may recall, this Subcommittee has held hearings on issues such as adaptive housing, education assistance and ensuring that our returning servicemembers and their families have an easy transition to civilian life.  With an increasing number of disabled veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan, there is an urgent need to review these important pieces of legislation.

Today we have thirteen bills before us that seek to: protect our nation’s veterans from financial burdens incurred while serving one’s country; expand education programs while meeting the current needs of our economy; provide transition assistance to members of the National Guard and Reserve; strengthen reemployment rights for returning veterans; ensure the vitality of programs that assist veterans in making the best use of the Montgomery G.I. Bill education benefits; and establish an office to promote programs to assists our injured veterans to heal from their wounds sustained while in the U.S. Armed Forces. 

In addition, I have introduced legislation that will be discussed today that seeks to address some of the needs of our returning brave men and women in uniform. 

The first being H.R. 1315, which would provide specially adaptive housing assistance to disabled servicemembers residing temporarily in housing owned by a family member.  Under current law, a temporary grant may be available to veterans who are/will be temporarily residing in a home owned by a family member.  This assistance, allowable up to $14,000, may be used to adapt the family member’s home to meet the veteran’s special needs at that time.

The second bill, H.R. 675 would increase the amount of assistance available to disabled veterans for specially adaptive housing grants.  Increase the maximum amount from the current $50,000 to $60,000.

I believe that these two bills will be critical components in assisting our disabled veterans and servicemembers, and expand the resources available to give them a level of independent living they may not normally enjoy.

I look forward to working with Ranking Member Boozman and Members of this Subcommittee to continue to improve the quality of care and services available to our veterans.