Maloney Amendment to Defense Bill Would Help New Veterans Safely Transition out of Service
WASHINGTON — Representative Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) has successfully introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), also known as “the defense bill,” to help veterans by smoothing their transition from military service to the civilian world. Rep. Maloney originally introduced the legislation as a standalone bill called the Know Your Vets Act after working alongside his Veterans Advisory Board and Representative Mike Gallagher (R-WI), a former Captain in the United States Marine Corps.
“Veterans tell me the transition out of service can be rocky, so we need to do everything we can to help smooth that out and help new veterans reacclimate to the civilian world,” said Rep. Maloney. “This provision is simple, it’s commonsense, and it’s bipartisan – I have high hopes that we can get it passed into law, and I’ll keep working with Congressman Gallagher to make sure we do.”
Rep. Maloney introduced The Know Your Vets Act as a standalone bill in November of 2017 after hearing concerns from Nelson Rivera, the former Director of the Dutchess County Veterans Service Agency. Veterans Service Officers (VSOs), like Nelson, are available to assist new veterans during the transition out of military service, but VSOs have no way of knowing that a recently discharged veteran has returned home or moved to their community. The transition from the military can be a difficult time for veterans. Some veterans struggle with finding a good job, adjusting to family life, or just feeling at home in the civilian world. Some even battle mental health issues or substance abuse. Without being notified about newly discharged veterans in their area VSOs must wait for a veteran to contact them, which can be a barrier to the provision of services.
Rep. Maloney’s legislation would give veterans the option of having their final certificate of discharge paperwork, also known as a DD-214 form, sent to a county VSO based on the location of their retirement from service. This notification will allow VSOs to proactively reach out to offer assistance and ensure the new veteran has a smooth transition back to civilian life. Rep. Maloney worked alongside Nelson Rivera and Stephanie Keegan, the mother of Daniel Keegan, a veteran who died shortly after he transitioned out of the military to write the Know Your Vets Act. He then worked to introduce the legislation alongside Rep. Gallagher.
Rep. Maloney attempted to introduce three additional pieces of legislation to the defense bill, but they were not ruled in order. The Rules Committee considered nearly 600 amendments to the NDAA, but fewer than 300 were made in order.
Last year, three legislative items Rep. Maloney introduced were passed into law as part of the NDAA. The Investing in Testing Act requires the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to conduct a five-year, $7 million federal study into the long-term health effects of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) exposure. That legislation was written in response to water contamination in the city of Newburgh. Rep. Maloney also worked to pass the Protecting Servicemembers from Debt Collectors Act into law, which requires the Department of Defense (DoD) to provide clear protections for servicemembers from predatory debt collection practices. Finally, Rep. Maloney worked to pass the Disabled Veterans Red Tape Reduction Act.