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Legislative Affairs 9 Association of the United States Navy OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE PHOTOS BY SHEALAH CRAIGHEAD whenever they wanted. e Act allowed for Purple Heart Veterans to be eligible for GI Bill educational benefits, and restored educational benefits to members of the Reserves who had lost their entitlement. One major provision that received praise from the committee concerns the resto- ration of educational benefits for Veterans who were enrolled in for-profit schools that closed. Veterans were frequently unable to retrieve their education benefits, which this provision now eradicates. In just a few short weeks, bipartisan efforts from the HVAC pushed H.R. 3218 through the committee for a vote, passed the U.S. Senate unanimously and was signed by the President Aug. 16. VA Choice and Quality Employment Act Signed (S. 114) AUSN, the American Legion, Concerned Veterans for America (CVA), and the Square Deal for Veterans (SD4V) joined President Donald J. Trump and Secre- tary of Veterans Affairs David J. Shulkin Aug. 12 as S. 114 was signed into law. e VA Choice and Quality Employment Act of 2017 (commonly called "Choice"), will extend the Choice program and expand Veterans' access to health care by making important investments in the Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system. is legislation provides $2.1 billion to continue funding of the Choice program for six months, as well as $1.8 billion to address longstanding staffing issues at VA hospitals. It also authorizes two dozen more leases for new VA medical facilities across the country, a long overdue effort. is money ensures continuity of care within the Veterans Choice Program, which is crucial in providing our Veterans with the best possible health care, and creates an integrated system that is easy and efficient for our nation's Veterans. In a joint state- ment with nine other Veterans Service Orga- nizations last month, AUSN urged Members of Congress to pass this legislation, as it is critical for Veterans to have the option to seek timely and effec- tive health care. is legislation does not fund additional community care options at the expense of the administration; rather, it is being funded through this individual bill as opposed to a large omnibus bill. AUSN has continually supported a blended VA system that allows Veterans to receive care in commu- nity-based programs as well as the VA. Without the passage of this crucial legislation, some nine million Choice-enrolled Veterans would lose access to community care, and more than 170,000 Veterans living more than 40 miles from a VA facility would lose access to community care. Bipartisan support in Congress and President Trump's signing of this legislation is a vital step in giving Veterans the care they need and deserve. As Members of Congress return to D.C. from their August recess, we hope to continue working with their offices to ensure that both chambers come to an agreement so that our Sailors and Military receive the funding they need and deserve. Michael J. Little, ABH2(AW/SW), USN(IRR) is AUSN's Legislative Director. President Donald J. Trump, joined by U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin, participates in a bill Signing of the Veterans Affairs Choice and Quality Employment Act of 2017 Saturday, August 12. Attending the event were represen- tatives of the Association of the United States Navy (AUSN), the American Legion, Concerned Veterans for America (CVA), and the Square Deal for Veterans (SD4V).

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