April 25, 2024

Ranking Member Takano’s Statement on VA Final Rule Expanding Care and Benefits to Veterans with Other Than Honorable Discharges

Press Contact

Libby Carlson -- 771-216-2280

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, House Committee on Veterans Affairs Ranking Member Mark Takano (CA-39) released the following statement after the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced a final rule that will expand healthcare and benefits to more veterans who received other than honorable discharges: 

“I applaud VA Secretary Denis McDonough and the Biden Administration for this long overdue expansion of healthcare and benefits for some veterans who received an other than honorable discharge. This is welcome news. Too often in the past, veterans may have received an other than honorable discharge because of discrimination based on their race, sexual orientation, post-traumatic stress disorder, a traumatic brain injury, or military sexual trauma. This discrimination and trauma led many servicemembers to act out, become insubordinate or self-medicate to cope. That misconduct is what is reflected in a veterans’ service record when they leave the military, not the underlying cause. Unfortunately, this ‘bad paper’ stays with servicemembers well after they are done serving and has likely impacted their ability to receive benefits and healthcare. 

We want to make sure that every veteran receives the care and benefits they have earned and much of this will come down to how this final rule is implemented. So, I encourage the Veterans Benefits Administration to interpret the expanded ‘compelling circumstances exception’ created in this rule as broadly as possible when making benefits determinations, to ensure as many veterans as possible benefit. There is more work to do to fully right the wrongs of the past, but this is a positive step and I commend VA for taking it.”