Source: United States House of Representatives – Congresswoman Elaine Luria (VA-02)
May 25, 2020
VIRGINIA BEACH, VA – Today, House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs (DAMA) Chair Congresswoman Elaine Luria reflected on the legislative and oversight responsibilities of her subcommittee to honor fallen heroes and protect veterans on Memorial Day.
“It is an honor to lead the subcommittee responsible for advocating for our bravest men and women to ensure they are honored with the respect they deserve and commemorated for their service,” Congresswoman Luria said. “As chair, the Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Subcommittee has been on the forefront of efforts to ensure our veterans receive the care that they need while also tackling critical oversight issues. As a veteran myself, I take seriously the duty to advocate for servicemembers, military families, disabled veterans, and those we have lost and I look forward to leading more initiatives that honor their sacrifice and courage.”
Since becoming DAMA Chair, Congresswoman Luria has spearheaded several efforts to continue to fight for American veterans, servicemembers, and military families:
- The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019, which passed the Subcommittee with Congresswoman Luria’s support, became law in June. This law reverses decades of neglect for Vietnam-era veterans who served in the offshore waters by allowing them to receive VA benefits based on herbicide (Agent Orange) exposure. Congresswoman Luria recently led a hearing where she pressed top VA officials on the implementation of the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act and identified coverage gaps that need to be filled.
- Congresswoman Luria introduced the bipartisan Gold Star Family Tax Relief Act, which has over 170 cosponsors, to fix an error in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that caused tax bills for some Gold Star families to jump by tens of thousands of dollars. Thanks to Rep. Luria’s efforts, a tax fix for Gold Star families was included in H.R. 1865, the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020.
- Last year, Congresswoman Luria led a roundtable discussion examining the dangers that per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) pose to veterans and military families living on military installations. PFAS are synthetic chemicals that can contaminate sources of drinking water.
- Congresswoman Luria’s Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act (H.R. 1200) became law in 2019, The new law will put more money in the pockets of American veterans by providing a cost-of-living adjustment increase on disability compensation. This increase will mirror the same cost-of-living increase for Social Security.
- In September of 2019, Congresswoman Luria led an oversight hearing on the VA’s contract exam process. The hearing emphasized the need to improve the VA claim process and its impact on rural veterans, especially those living on the Eastern Shore.
- The Identifying Barriers and Best Practices Study Act, which Congresswoman Luria introduced with Congressman Khanna, passed the Subcommittee and went on to pass the full House last December. This bipartisan bill would identify and address barriers and benefit disparities between veterans who served in the Guard, Reserve, Active Duty, and special programs.
- Congresswoman Luria introduced the VA Website Accessibility Act (H.R. 1199). This bill would direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to conduct a study and submit a plan to Congress that would make VA websites accessible for veterans affected by blindness or hearing loss. It passed the House last October and a nearly identical companion bill passed the Senate.
- Congresswoman Luria led a legislative and oversight hearing to help ensure veteran survivors of military sexual trauma (MST) have access to disability benefits. During the hearing, Congresswoman Luria highlighted the VA’s resistance to expressly allow the inclusion of online records as evidence of MST.
A 20-year Navy veteran who retired at the rank of Commander, Congresswoman Luria became the first-ever woman veteran from a military service branch to serve on the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs (HVAC), and the first to lead an HVAC Subcommittee specifically focused on assisting disabled veterans and honoring those we have lost. This critical subcommittee ensures those servicemembers whom have fallen are advocated for in Congress.
Congresswoman Elaine Luria represents Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District. She serves on the House Armed Services Committee, where she is the Vice Chair of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, and the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, where she serves as Chair of the Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Subcommittee.