A U.S. Army soldier bows her head in prayer at a welcome home ceremony for troops returning from Iraq on Nov. 10, 2011, at Fort Carson. More than 100 soldiers from the 549th Quartermaster Company, 43rd Sustainment Brigade returned after a seven-month deployment. They played a key role in removing excess equipment from Iraq as other troops withdrew from the region. (John Moore/Getty Images)
Reps. Joe Neguse, of Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District, and Doug Lamborn, of the 5th Congressional District, are co-sponsoring the Helping Unleash Benefits and Services for Veterans Act of 2021, or the HUBS for Veterans Act of 2021.
The bill would help support local “network hubs,” which would make it easier for veterans and service members to access resources available to them by providing services in one spot, or hub.
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Over 8% of Colorado’s population has veteran status, which is about 20% higher than the proportion of veterans in the United States, according to the Census Reporter. There are over 370,000 veterans in the state.
“Across our district, we hear frequently from veterans who are struggling to access the benefits they’ve been promised or to gain the resources necessary to thrive,” Neguse said in a statement last week. “For those who have stepped up to serve, we must ensure we are fulfilling our commitment to ensure access to adequate health care, education services, housing and job training opportunities when they return home.”
“Many Colorado community-based organizations have stepped up to support our veterans by providing a variety of resources and services in a single location,” Lamborn said last week. “The HUBS for Veterans Act would help support these veterans service organizations so they can ensure that veterans, servicemembers, and their families have streamlined access to the essential support they need.”
The legislation, which is led in the Senate by Sens. Michael Bennet and Mike Crapo, of Idaho, authorizes a 5-year pilot program to provide matching grants to nonprofit organizations that offer veterans access to multiple services from one source, or from a network hub, according to Lamborn’s press release.
The legislation directs the Department of Labor, in discussion with the Department of Veterans Affairs, to prioritize network hubs that provide job training, educational support services, financial services and assistance in accessing benefits administered by the VA.
Beneficiaries of the bill include any member of the armed forces, any former member of the armed forces and any spouse of a current or former member of the armed forces.
“The HUBS for Veterans Act will advance holistic wraparound services for our local veterans by supporting local network hubs that can help them with a variety of services,” Neguse said.
Expanding pro bono medical care
Neguse has introduced several bills to support veterans over the past several months.
In August, Neguse introduced the Veterans Job Training Act, which would expand job training and placement services for homeless veterans and would reauthorize the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program through 2025. In September, Neguse introduced the Veterans Equitable taxation of Student Loans Act, which would exempt veterans whose student loan debt was discharged due to death or permanent disability from tax liability on their forgiven loans.
This month, Neguse announced a legislative package to ensure that veterans can access health care through the VA. The package includes the Veterans Pro Bono Corps Act, which removes financial barriers for low-income veterans who are seeking to supplement their benefit claims by expanding pro bono medical care, and the Department of Veterans Affairs Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Processing Claims Improving Act of 2021, which would improve the VA’s post-traumatic stress disorder claims processing training.
In addition, Neguse introduced an amendment in the National Defense Authorization Act for the fiscal year 2022, which recently passed in the House, that would expand the travel allowances for military families traveling to funerals.
In 2019, Neguse helped to secure $10 million in federal funding for the Fisher House Foundation, an organization that provides free housing for military families while a family member is in the hospital.
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