Bill Harding: Current legislation may affect veterans

Bill Harding, Veterans Hotline

Bill Harding's "Veterans Hotline" column appears in the Craig Daily Press .

I wish to thank all those who stopped at the American Legion booth at the Expo in Craig and purchased raffle tickets, and especially thank those who donated to the Honor Flight program sending local World War II vets from the Grand Junction airport back to Washington D.C. this spring.

Vet gun control

"Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC) and Jim Webb (D-VA) have joined forces to try to prevent veterans from losing the right to own a gun if a fiduciary is appointed to handle their finances.

"Burr and Webb, both members of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, are trying to carve out a loophole for veterans in the Federal Gun Control Act that prohibits the sale of firearms to people who are, in the words of the law, "adjudicated as a mental defective."

According to Burr, the names of about 116,000 veterans have been turned over to the FBI since 1999 because the Veterans Affairs Department assigned a fiduciary to manage their benefits. That is not the same thing as being a danger to themselves or others, Burr said in a statement included in Monday's Congressional Record when he introduced a bill, S.669, to prevent the VA from reporting the names of veteran to the FBI.

"'VA focuses on whether or not benefits paid by VA will be spent in the manner in which they were intended,' Burr said. 'Nothing involved with VA's appointment of a fiduciary even gets at the question of whether an individual is a danger to themselves or others, or whether the person should own a firearm.'

"The bill, the Veterans Second Amendment Protection Act, was referred to the veterans committee for consideration. Veterans are not the only ones affected, he said. A surviving spouse or child of a veteran might also have a fiduciary appointed if VA is concerned about their financial responsibility. In the case of a child, their name could be permanently on the list unless they petition for its removal, he said.

"'This makes no sense.' Burr said the law is unfair because while the names of veterans and people receiving veterans benefits are reported to the FBI for inclusion in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System used by gun shop owners to screen buyers, the Social Security Administration is not required to turn over the names of any Social Security recipients who have someone appointed to handle their finances.

Burr said he isn't trying to put guns in the hands of dangerous people but wants veterans treated fairly. Webb is the only Democratic cosponsor of the bill, which has 14 Republican cosponsors. The American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and other major veterans groups support the bill."

(Source: NavyTimes, March 24)

Legislation to watch affecting veterans

Below is a summary of some of the legislation in progress in Washington D.C. that may affect local vets.

HR = House bills

S=senate bills

H.R.442 : Veterans' Heritage Firearms Act of 2009 to provide an amnesty period during which veterans and their family members can register certain firearms in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Rehberg, Denny [MT] (introduced 1/9/2009), Cosponsors (26)

Committees: House Judiciary; House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 2/9/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security.

S.691 : Colorado National Cemetery for Veterans. A bill to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a national cemetery for veterans in southern Colorado region, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Bennet, Michael F. [CO] (introduced 3/25/2009), Cosponsors (1)

Committees: Senate Veterans' Affairs

Latest Major Action: 3/25/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

S.663 : Belated Thank You to the Merchant Mariners of World War II Act of 2009. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish the Merchant Mariner Equity Compensation Fund to provide benefits to certain individuals who served in the United States merchant marine (including the Army Transport Service and the Naval Transport Service) during World War II.

Sponsor: Sen Nelson, E. Benjamin [NE] (introduced 3/19/2009), Cosponsors (18)

Committees: Senate Veterans' Affairs

Latest Major Action: 3/19/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

Craig Telehealth Clinic reminder

The Craig Community Telehealth Clinic offers U.S. veterans state-of-the-art technology as well as onsite nursing support and remote practitioner availability. Our goal is to provide an extensive array of healthcare services to our veterans in a setting that is both accessible and professional. In order to appropriately plan and coordinate your visit, access to the clinic is by appointment only. The clinic will cannot handle emergency needs. Flu shot walk-ins are still on-going for vets currently enrolled in the VAMC health care system.

For more information, call 824-6721.

For information on these programs and other veterans' benefits, call or stop in the Moffat County VSO office, 480 Barclay St. (west of the Bank of Colorado parking lot).

Call 824-3246 or use the fax, 824-7108. Our e-mail address is veterans@moffatcounty.net. The office is open from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday. Other times can be arranged by appointment only.

Bring a copy of your separation papers (DD-214) for application for VA programs and for filing at our office.

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