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

With the increasing number of disabled veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan, the need for specially adaptive housing has become more important.  Every year we have more veterans returning home with severe injuries, making it difficult for them to make an easy physical transition back home.  Our intent in this hearing is to examine the VA’s Specially Adaptive Housing Program, explore the problems that our nation’s veterans face and see what can be done to alleviate these problems.

As some of you may know, I have introduced legislation that will hopefully address some of the needs of our returning brave men and women of the armed forces.  I believe that this legislation will be a critical component in assisting these disabled veterans and servicemembers, and expand the resources available to give them a level of independent living they may not normally enjoy.

  • H.R. 1315 would provide specially adaptive housing assistance to disabled servicemembers residing temporarily in housing 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.
  • H.R. 675, the Disabled Veterans Adaptive Housing Act 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.

In my home state of South Dakota, I have had interactions with wounded and disabled veterans seeking ways to ease the physical transition from hospitals with disabled access to their current residences.  One of my constituents, who was injured during military operations in Iraq and remains on active duty, has faced difficulty securing adaptive housing grants because he is not yet incorporated into the VA system.  In addition to difficulties he has faced because of his active duty status, he, as well as many other injured servicemembers, not yet enrolled in the VA, could potentially benefit from changes I have proposed in H.R. 1315. 

I look forward to working with Ranking Member Boozman and Members of this Subcommittee to ensure that our most critically wounded servicemembers are provided both proper health care to help them recover from their injures, but also adequate benefits to modify their homes to achieve independence and comfort when they return home.