President Signs Walz-Led Measure to Honor Guard-Reserve Retirees into Law
[MANKATO, MN] – On Friday, December 16, President Obama signed the Jeff Miller and Richard Blumenthal Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act of 2016 into law. The legislation included a bipartisan Walz provision to extend the legal definition of “veteran” to Guard and Reserve members who served at least 20 years but have not been called up for federal active duty.
“This legislation is a victory for veterans. While we still have work to do, I am proud of how we have moved the ball forward in a bipartisan way,” said Rep. Tim Walz.
Since first coming to Congress, Walz has fought to allow those with 20 years of service in the Guard and Reserve, who were not placed on active duty during their service, to be recognized as veterans as a way to honor their service to our nation.
“Guard and Reserve members make many of the same sacrifices as those in regular service, and their commitment should be commemorated. Recognizing Guard-Reserve retirees as veterans is a small but important step we can take to honor their great service to our country.”
In addition to Rep. Walz’s Honor America's Guard-Reserve Retirees Act (HR 1384), the following provisions Walz supported were also included:
- HR 2691 – Authorizes the VA to provide burial and funeral benefits to veterans if there is sufficient evidence to establish that they deserve the benefit, even if the veteran had not filed paperwork with the VA previously.
- Sections of HR 1338 – Requires VA to report to Congress on the interment of unclaimed remains of deceased veterans to ensure they are treated with dignity and respect.
- HR 2531 – Fixes a component of the Fry Scholarship (for surviving spouses of post-9/11 Service Members who die in the line of duty) so that recipients from 2001-2005 can receive the full benefit they are entitled to.
The bill also had about 60 other provisions improving VA-provided services to homeless veterans, VA construction management, the Vocation Rehabilitation and Employment program, and access to care in the Veterans Health Administration.
Rep. Walz is the highest-ranking enlisted soldier to serve in Congress. As Co-Chair of the Guard and Reserve Caucus and a member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee and House Armed Services Committee, he has made honoring our commitments to those who have served this nation in uniform his top priority in Congress.