March 13, 2024

Ranking Member Takano Concludes 2024 VSO Hearings to Hear Directly from Veterans on Their Priorities

Press Contact

Libby Carlson (771-216-2280)

WASHINGTON, DC -- Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Ranking Member Mark Takano (CA-39) and Committee members concluded the 2024 veterans service organization (VSO) hearings. These yearly hearings are bipartisan and bicameral, to allow all Committee members to hear directly from veterans and VSOs about their priorities in the next year. 

The first panel featured witnesses from the American Legion, including National Commander Daniel Seehafer. Ranking Member Takano highlighted the success of the implementation of his Honoring our PACT Act and some additional priorities that need swift action in Congress. 

Ranking Member Takano said, “We must ensure that the funds needed for healthcare and benefits for toxic exposed veterans are always available. I give you my word, I will continue to make sure we don’t go back to pitting veterans against each other for funding.  I also remain focused on ending veteran homelessness. Over the last couple of years VA has made great progress in getting veterans housed. There are policy tools that reduce homelessness among veterans that we KNOW work. We must get the HOME Act passed now! Veteran suicide has also been a priority for me and my colleagues on the Committee. We must ensure that VA has the tools and resources it needs to reach all veterans who are struggling. I will continue to fight to ensure that VA is best-positioned to address veteran suicide.” 

The second panel included representatives from Jewish War Veterans, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, Military Officers Association of America, National Association of County Veteran Service Officers, National Council of American Indians, Vietnam Veterans of America, National Guard Association of the United States, and American Veterans (AMVETS). 

Members also discussed the bill Ranking Member Takano and Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity Ranking Member Mike Levin introduced last week to create GI Bill Parity for National Guard and Reserve members. This bipartisan, bicameral legislation ensures that Guard members and Reservists receive credit for every day they spend in uniform in a federal duty status under Titles 10 or 32 for GI Bill purposes. This means every day conducting operations, training, attending military schools, conducting weekend drill and annual training requirements, or responding to national disasters would count towards earning the Post-9/11 GI Bill. 

Maj. Gen. (Ret.), Frank McGinn, President, National Guard Association of the United States said, “The operational use of the National Guard has grown exponentially since 9/11. We now make up 39% of the total Army force and 30% of the total Air force. Our units deploy on a rotational basis similar to most of the Active Component... in addition to the frequent response to emergency, security and disaster needs within the states. Unlike our Active Component peers, Guardsmen serve in a variety of statuses and on missions that do not accrue GI benefits. We are very pleased to see your two Committees introduce the Guard and Reserve GI Bill Parity Act. Every day in service should be counted, regardless of duty status.”