Two of Delgado Veterans’ Bills Signed Into Law
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, President Trump signed a comprehensive veterans’ benefit package, H.R. 7105, into law that incorporates the text of Rep. Delgado’s bipartisan Fairness for Local Veteran Cemeteries Act and Improving Benefits for Underserved Veterans Act. H.R. 7105 passed the Senate on December 9, 2020 and passed the House of Representatives on December 16, 2020. Included in the law is Delgado’s bill to ensure counties in states without a state-run national cemetery, including New York, can access federal funds to establish, expand, or improve a county-run veteran cemetery. The law also includes the Delgado-led bill to require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to publish a report on veteran’s benefits, disaggregated by sex and minority group member status.
“I am very glad to see the President has signed H.R. 7105 into law, which includes two of my bills. This new law will ultimately support our nation’s veterans, ensuring equality of access to benefits, and protecting their final resting place. Both of these measures reflect the needs and concerns of our upstate veterans. The idea behind the Fairness for Local Veteran Cemeteries Act stemmed from my first bipartisan, locally-based Veterans Advisory Committee meeting. Captain Steve Massee, former Director of the Ulster County Veterans Service Agency, highlighted a technical error that prevented Ulster County, and other counties in New York, from accessing federal funding for its veteran cemeteries. Based on this feedback, I introduced the Fairness for Local Veteran Cemeteries Act,” said Representative Antonio Delgado. “Additionally, I introduced the Improving Benefits for Underserved Veterans Act after visiting facilities serving women veterans in upstate New York. The report on veteran benefits disaggregated by sex and minority group member status will help us to understand and address the gaps in care for women and minority veterans. This new law helps us provide the quality care and support our veterans deserve. ”
“My sincere thanks to Congressman Delgado for his role in passage of the Fairness for Local Veteran Cemeteries Act. It removes a statutory barrier to federal VA funding of local veteran cemetery construction, and thereby makes possible such funding for Ulster County's badly needed Veteran Cemetery expansion in New Paltz. I look forward to the Congressman's continued work in this area, to ensure that the State of New York provides the necessary endorsement of Ulster County's application for VA cemetery construction funding.” said Steve Massee, Retired Director, Ulster County Veteran Services
“I’d like to thank Congressman Delgado and everyone on his Veterans Advisory Committee who helped develop these bills and continues to work to support our veterans. The Fairness for Local Veteran Cemeteries Act will ensure our local veteran cemeteries can access needed federal support - an especially important issue here in NY, where many of our veteran cemeteries are county-managed. Additionally, the Improving Benefits for Underserved Veterans Act will help the VA develop a better understanding of the unique needs of female and minority veterans, so it can make informed investments to better serve all veteran communities. With female veterans being the fastest growing subgroup of veterans and the fastest growing group of homeless veterans, we must make sure our government can address all veterans’ needs, such as access to women's health care or homeless shelters.” said Malia Du Mont, Chair of Rep. Delgado’s NY-19 Advisory Committee on Veterans.
Rep. Delgado, along with Reps. Don Young, (AK-AL), Elise Stefanik (NY-21), and Brian Mast (FL-18), introduced the Fairness for Local Veteran Cemeteries Act. There are currently four states whose veteran cemeteries are run by individual counties or county-equivalents: New York, Florida, Alaska, and Oregon. Rep. Delgado’s bill ensures that counties in these states are eligible for grants to cover the maintenance and operation costs of veteran cemeteries. In June 2020, Rep. Delgado testified in support of the Fairness for Local Veteran Cemeteries Act before the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. On December 16, 2020, Rep. Delgado spoke in support of H.R. 7105, which includes the Fairness for Local Veteran Cemeteries Act.
Rep. Delgado introduced the Improving Benefits for Underserved Veterans Act, which would direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to publish a report on veterans’ benefits disaggregated by sex and minority group member status. This report would provide the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Congress with the necessary data to better educate those veterans on their entitled benefits and address any disparities in coverage and benefit usage amongst those groups. On October 22, 2019, the Congressman spoke before the House Veterans’ Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs about his legislation, the Improving Benefits for Underserved Veterans Act. On December 16, 2020, Rep. Delgado spoke in support of H.R. 7105, which includes the Improving Benefits for Underserved Veterans Act.