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House Veterans’ Affairs Approves Measures on COLA, Blindness

The House Veterans’ Affairs subcommittee on disability and memorial affairs approved two benefits bills by unanimous voice vote with no amendments today.

The Dr. James Allen Veteran Vision Equity Act (H.R. 797) and the Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2007 (H.R. 1284) were both passed out of committee today. They represented the first bills shepherded through the panel by chairman John Hall (D-N.Y.), a freshman.

The Dr. James Allen Veteran Vision Equity act allows for additional compensation to a veteran with service-connected blindness in one eye when they lose vision in the other eye. Currently, veterans who lose vision in their second eye receive no additional compensation above what they already receive for loss of vision in one eye. Hall called it an “important step in restoring fair treatment” to veterans.

Bill sponsor Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) named the bill after a professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine, who originally brought the issue to her attention.

As for the Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act, it would “ease the burdens” imposed on veterans by increasing their rates of compensation. The bill would provide for the same rate of increase as Social Security benefits and would apply to the following classes of compensation: dependency and indemnity compensation for surviving spouses and children, clothing allowances, wartime disability compensation and additional compensation for dependents.

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