VetsFirst’s priorities are based on three core principles that will improve the lives of veterans with disabilities.
Core Principle—1: Community Integration and Independence
VetsFirst supports policies that help veterans with disabilities reintegrate into their communities and achieve independence. Disabled veterans must have access to employment and educational opportunities; affordable, accessible housing; and transportation options that allow them to live meaningful, productive lives.
Veterans with disabilities need increased access to home modifications. To create new access for veterans who have limited benefits available through VA, we support legislation that would provide grants to nonprofits to help veterans with housing adaptations. We also support legislation that would provide tax credits to help with housing modifications. For veterans who are eligible for VA’s Special Adapted Housing program, we support streamlined program guidelines that help ensure that veterans, particularly those with terminal illnesses, are able to receive benefits in a timely manner.
Veterans who have acquired disabilities due to their military service need to know how to address barriers in returning to work or seeking education opportunities. To ensure veterans have this information, we support proper implementation of new requirements for all transitioning servicemembers to receive information about disability-related employment and education protections. We also support efforts to ensure that veterans with disabilities have the opportunity to receive high-quality vocational rehabilitation services. When transitioning to the workforce, we support efforts to ensure new opportunities for employment with federal contractors and the federal government. We also support public-private partnerships to help connect veterans with disabilities to employers in all sectors.
Core Principle—2: Timely Access to Quality VA Health Care and Benefits
VetsFirst knows that access to VA health care and compensation and pension benefits are the lifeline for many veterans with significant disabilities. Veterans who are unable to access these needed services and benefits due to delays or shortages will lack the foundation that will allow them to take advantage of opportunities to return to their communities.
VA Compensation and Pension Benefits:
Veterans must have timely access to VA compensation and pension benefits. We support efforts to end the claims backlog and provide accurate decisions to veterans on their claims. To ensure VA can most effectively use its resources to support claims processing, we support legislation that would provide advance funding for all of VA’s accounts, including mandatory accounts.
VA Health Care:
Veterans with disabilities must have access to high-quality acute and long-term services and supports that allow them to remain as independent as possible. We support legislation that allows the family caregivers of veterans of all eras to participate in VA’s enhanced caregiver program. We also support increased access to a variety of mental health care treatments that meet the needs of veterans, whether provided by VA or through community-based services near their homes.
Core Principle—3: Rights of Veterans with Disabilities
VetsFirst believes that discrimination against disabled veterans that produces barriers to housing, employment,
transportation, health care, and other programs and services must be eliminated. Without protections provided through the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, the Fair Housing Act, the Air Carriers Access Act, and other similar laws, disabled veterans would be unable to participate in society in the same manner as other Americans.
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Disabilities Treaty):
Veterans living with disabilities must have the opportunity to travel, work, and live abroad. To foster these opportunities, we support U.S. ratification of the Disabilities Treaty. U.S. ratification will ensure that we are able to influence the development of access for Americans with disabilities across the world. Ratification of the Disabilities Treaty, which fully compliments American access laws for people with disabilities, would send an important message to the world community regarding inclusion of people with disabilities.