Mr. Michael D. Dubie
The Honorable Stephanie Herseth Sandlin
Chairwoman, Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity
Committee on Veterans Affairs
335 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Chairwoman Herseth Sandlin,
I am responding to a specific request for information from Representative Peter Welch regarding the need for equal accessibility to the Benefits Delivery at Discharge (BDD) program for members of the National Guard and Reserves. This topic will be the subject of a legislative hearing on Thursday, June 21, 2007.
As the Adjutant General for the State of Vermont, I strongly support initiatives that help provide better services and benefits for all members of the Reserve Component (RC) as they transition from the Department of Defense (DoD) to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical systems. Considering that members of the RC are exposed to the same missions and associated risks while fighting for their country, it is only fair that these same veterans should be treated equally with access to benefits when compared to their active duty counterparts. While we in Vermont have been successful in working with the local VA to help returning members of the RC access VA benefits quickly, this efficient and successful BDD program is not universally available to all Guard and Reserve members around the country on a timely basis. The lack of accessibility can result in significant hardship while some members wait up to six months to receive a benefit that is readily available to the members of the active duty.
Any changes that can be made to remove impediments imposed on RC members and provide equal access to the BDD program would help mitigate some significant stress on our affected veterans. Our country continues to ask a great deal from our Reservists and making the BDD readily available will assist in facilitating a more seamless transition back to civilian life.
Many thanks to the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity for taking a strong interest in ensuring equal benefits and equal accessibility to benefits for all of our returning warriors and for helping to facilitate a seamless transition when they return home.
Michael D. Dubie
Major General, The Adjutant General