Economic Opportunity Chairman Van Orden Delivers Opening Remarks at Subcommittee Legislative Hearing on GI Bill Improvement, Employment Opportunities
Today, Rep. Derrick Van Orden, (R-Wis.), the Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity, delivered the following remarks, as prepared, at the start of the Subcommittee’s legislative hearing including legislation on GI Bill improvements and better employment opportunities for veterans:
The Subcommittee will come to order.
I welcome the witnesses and Subcommittee Members as well as a few distinguished Members that have asked to participate in this legislative hearing today.
As I have often said in this Subcommittee, we operate in a nonpartisan way with the ultimate goal of serving those who have served our country.
This hearing continues in that spirit.
We have thirteen important legislative proposals to consider here today. Not all of the proposals will move forward in the process.
The purpose of this hearing is to hear from folks with expertise on assisting veterans about the benefits and shortcomings of the various pieces of legislation.
Without thorough agency and stakeholder insight, this Subcommittee would be unable to move several important pieces of legislation so far this Congress.
I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today on their thoughts on the bills that have been noticed.
A number of these proposals seek to improve the education experience for America’s veterans and make it easier for veterans to receive accurate information about their options for using their G.I. Bill benefits and ensure that they get the best bang for their buck with the G.I. Bill.
As a veteran who served our nation for 26 years, I know how important the G.I. Bill is for opening up doors for transitioning servicemembers and veterans across the ranks.
I specifically want to highlight my friend and colleague Mr. Ciscomani’s proposal, the Expanding Access for Online Veteran Students Act.
For years, this Subcommittee has heard from many student veterans about how the online Monthly Housing Allowance is too low, and it puts many student veterans who need to take online classes during the summer because they have a family, a job, or are not near a college, at a disadvantage struggling to make ends meet.
Mr. Ciscomani’s proposal would address these concerns head on for student veterans who take summer courses.
It would also allow students attending universities in-person in the fall and spring to not have to worry about putting food on the table in the summer.
With skyrocketing inflation and the cost of living higher than ever, this bill is a commonsense fix to ensure student veterans have access to the resources they need, and I am happy to be an original co-sponsor on this legislation.
We will also consider bills to improve suicide prevention and outreach services and advance the home loan program.
We will also consider H.R. 5913. My bill would eliminate bureaucratic red tape and a lack of accountability that veterans are met with when seeking employment assistance.
While this bill would move DOL-VETS to VA, it would not lead to employees being fired, or the unions losing representation.
Instead, this proposal would allow for better accountability and oversight between Congress and DOL-VETS and ensure that the agency is here to serve veterans first and put everything else second.
Finally, we will hear from stakeholders and VA about the idea of a 4th Administration. Over the last few years, we have seen VBA’s number of employees dramatically increase.
However, this Subcommittee still hears significant concerns about the quality service delivered to veterans from VBA.
To that end, I will be asking VA to provide the Subcommittee with a detailed breakdown of employees at Veterans Benefit Administration assigned to addressing the employment and education needs of our veterans. I think it’s important that the committee understands how resources are prioritized at the VBA.
I have some reservations about several of the proposals on the agenda today. The witness testimony and questions Members of this Subcommittee will ask today will hopefully address some of these issues so Members can make informed decisions about the bills.
We look forward to hearing from the Members who have introduced these proposals as well as our witnesses on how we can continue to improve these bills and create more economic opportunity for veterans.
I now yield to the Ranking Member for five minutes for his opening remarks.