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Reps. Wenstrup and Levin reintroduce legislation to prioritize veterans' employment, transition

Washington, D.C. – Representatives Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) and Mike Levin (D-CA.), introduced H.R.3738, the Veterans’ Education, Transition, and Opportunity Prioritization Plan (VET OPP) Act of 2023.

Currently, the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) is responsible for all Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits provided to veterans outside of healthcare and cemetery services. While there are many different benefits that VBA provides, the bulk of staffing and resources have been directed towards the administration of disability compensation and pension claims. This has resulted in a lack of attention on the administration of other VBA benefits, such as the Forever GI Bill, Vocational Rehabilitation, Home Loan benefits, and VA’s portion of the Transition Assistance Program (TAP).

Without adding any additional bureaucracy, the VET OPP Act would address this issue by realigning transition, education, and employment programs at VA under a new administration, the Economic Opportunity and Transition Administration. This new administration would be accountable to a presidentially appointed undersecretary.

“Our men and women in uniform sometimes struggle to fully utilize their incredible skills and talents when transitioning back to civilian life,” said Rep. Wenstrup. “It's important that we address our veterans’ needs by aligning transition, education, and employment programs in a fourth administration within the VA to streamline organization and better serve those who served us in uniform. This new administration will ensure that VA’s economic opportunity and transition programs receive the oversight they need and attention they deserve. I’m proud to lead this bipartisan effort and thank Rep. Levin for joining me in reintroducing this important legislation.”

“Our bipartisan legislation seeks to better equip the Department of Veterans Affairs when assisting veterans with economic and business opportunities, and would give VA the tools it needs to streamline programs and funding," said Rep. Levin. "Rep. Wenstrup and I are committed to policy changes that improve and update VA’s capabilities to better support veterans in their transition to civilian life, and we look forward to this bill moving through the legislative process.”

“The Department of Veterans Affairs' economic opportunity offerings, like the Post-9/11 GI Bill, Home Loan Guaranty, and the Transition Assistance Program play a pivotal role in helping veterans transition successfully after service, but they also compete with the massive compensation and pension programs for prioritization within the Veterans Benefits Administration,” said Tammy Barlet, Vice President of Government Affairs for Student Veterans of America (SVA). “SVA strongly supports the VET OPP Act because it would establish a new administration at VA focused exclusively on economic opportunity and transition so these key issues receive appropriate attention and dedicated leadership ensuring an improved veteran experience and greater accountability. We thank Congressman Wenstrup for championing this legislation and for his steadfast leadership on this issue.”

“Many economic opportunity programs fall under VBA to administer veterans benefits. VBA currently houses Compensation and Pension, along with GI Bill, VR&E, Home Loan, and other important benefits. The VFW believes VBA’s organizational structure needs updating. The VFW supports creating a fourth administration under VA with its own undersecretary whose sole responsibility is the economic opportunity programs. We would like to thank Congressmen Wenstrup and Levin for making this a priority,” said Pat Murray, Director VFW’s National Legislative Service.

"PVA is pleased to support Rep. Wenstrup's legislation to establish the Veterans Economic Opportunity and Transition Administration. In addition to giving important benefit programs the time and attention they deserve, the new administration will allow for focused collaboration with other agencies and programs, like the Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service, which also serves veterans, increasing program efficiencies," said Heather Ansley, Associate Executive Director for Government Relations for Paralyzed Veterans of America.

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