Sean Erenstoft applauds first act of the 115th Congress in making veterans a top priority.
In one of its first acts since the election, Congress has passed a pair of bills aimed at protecting veterans. The first bill was passed unanimously by the 115th Congress and requires the V.A. to maintain current files about employee discipline throughout the duration of each employee’s tenure with the Department of Veterans Affairs. This provides some accountability when these same employees are up for promotion. Previously, discipline records were deleted after only three years. Notably, the law has not yet been passed by the Senate — the same bill was voted down in the last congressional session.
The second bill passed pertains to biological implants used to treat injured vets. In the past, a very loose system of tracking and quality control was used. Should “The Biological Implant Tracking and Veterans Safety Act of 2017” pass the Senate, the V.A. would implement an automated system to guarantee that veterans don’t receive expired and contaminated tissue. Although not on anyone’s radar, apparently the Veterans Health Administration has failed to ensure that it was purchasing tissue (cadaverous material) from vendors registered with the Food and Drug Administration.
Although commonsense reforms, the efforts are intended to create a more accountability and oversight. For too long, our veterans have been the guinea pigs of just how shallow our social obligations to our citizens can endeavor before failing. We are beginning to see a floor emerge from these newest efforts to reform the V.A.
My firm L.A.-Vets is lobbying for Congress to mandate veteran set-asides for government labor requirements and contracting on public projects. Discussions about raising the federal minimum wage (currently mandated via Executive Order) could be coupled with such efforts to ensure veterans future employment. Indeed, many veterans are displaced during their period of service and frequently need a helping hand to get back into the job market. In the near-term, LA-Vets has launched a Jobs4Vets program designed to call attention to the need for job recruiters to consider veteran set-asides and veteran-specific job offerings. While concerned about outright discrimination in favor of veterans, job recruiters are asked to specifically consider an applicant’s prior military service as a “plus-factor” in the application process.
Sean Erenstoft formed L.A.-Vets (www.la-vets.com) to assist veterans who need help and advice obtaining their well-earned benefits.