U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., is looking to add eight amendments, most of which are focused on veterans affairs, to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
Bilirakis, who sits on the U.S. House Veterans Affairs Committee, weighed in on the amendments on Monday.
“Each year, through the NDAA, we have an opportunity to work on bipartisan measures that will improve the lives of those who proudly serve or have served our nation,” said Bilirakis. “Among other priorities, the proposed amendments I’ve co-sponsored will help to protect heroes who have been exposed to dangerous toxins during their service, ensure appropriate benefit compensation for combat-wounded veterans, and extend benefits for disabled benefits and their spouses. Addressing these important issues is long overdue, and I urge my colleagues’ support for these initiatives.”
The congressman’s office offered the following information on the eight amendments:
- The Major Richard Star amendment would provide concurrent receipt of military retired pay and veterans’ disability compensation for combat-wounded veterans who were medically retired under Chapter 61 with less than 20 years of service.
- The Ruiz/Bilirakis Burn Pit Alternatives amendment would require the DoD to include a dedicated budget line item for incinerators and other waste disposal alternatives to burn pits. This will help Congress monitor the continued use of burn pits- despite the known risk of exposure for our military personnel.
- The Ruiz/Bilirakis Burn Pit Studies amendment would require the DoD to submit a report to Congress on the status, methodology and timeline of current research and studies being conducted to assess burn pit health effects. American heroes are already getting sick and some are dying from complications related to exposure. They can’t afford for federal agencies to continue to waste time on endless studies regarding widely-recognized scientific facts. Additional oversight is certainly warranted.
- The Ruiz/Bilirakis Burn Pit Training amendment would provide mandatory training for all DoD medical providers with respect to potential effects of burn pits. It is important that the doctors treating our heroes know the most current research available and are able to look for possible signs or symptoms, as early detection could save lives.
- The Welch/Bilirakis Burn Pit exposure and COVID-19 amendment would require the Tricare COVID-19 Registry to include any prior respiratory illnesses and information from the burn pit registry for the beneficiary.
- The Blunt-Rochester/Bilirakis SPACE-A for spouses and caregivers amendment would allow spouses and caregivers of 100 percent permanent-disabled veterans to have access to the Space-Available program. This was the original intent of the legislation, sponsored by Bilirakis, but has not been implemented by the DoD as originally envisioned.
- The Chiropractic services amendment would require the Defense Health Agency to produce a report on the feasibility, efficacy, and cost of expanding coverage for chiropractic care to military families and retirees under the Tricare program. Chiropractic services can be a cost-effective and preventive tool for treating chronic pain.
- The Greek Diplomatic Engagement amendment would provide a feasibility study on increased rotational deployments to Greece and enhanced United States-Greece diplomatic engagement. Such an enhancement of the United States’ Strategic Partnership with Greece would be a benefit to both nations.
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