Tester, Murkowski lead bipartisan push to protect critical services, essential resources for veterans

    Washington, D.C. (KINY) – To ensure continuous support for the nation’s veterans, caregivers, and their families, Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) are introducing bipartisan legislation to extend essential Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) programs and authorities currently set to expire May 11th.

    The Senators’ Critical Health Access Resource and Grant Extensions (CHARGE) Act of 2023 would protect measures currently being implemented by VA to curb veteran homelessness, support caregivers, and assist State Veterans Homes dealing with staffing shortages.\

    “These resources have been a critical lifeline for so many Montana veterans, and we simply can’t let them fall to the wayside,” said Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Tester. “That’s why I’m joining Senator Murkowski to protect these services on behalf of veterans and their families relying on steady access to quality care and housing. This bill honors the promises made to our men and women who served, and I’ll keep pushing to get it across the finish line as quickly as possible.”

    “I’m proud to be working on this effort to improve services to help homeless and aging veterans. I stand united with my colleagues in ensuring that those who served to protect us have the support they deserve and have earned. The lessons of the pandemic are not forgotten—we cannot forget about our veterans by allowing this authority expire,” said Senator Murkowski. “This bipartisan effort will make a positive impact for Alaskans and the great organizations who dedicate their time and effort to serving veterans.”

    Among its many priorities, the CHARGE Act specifically:

    • Increases the maximum reimbursement amount for VA grant recipient organizations providing temporary and transitional housing for homeless veterans. This is especially essential for organizations in rural areas with limited access to alternative funding sources;
    • Allows VA to continue providing gap services and support to homeless veterans when other supportive programs are not available—including shelter, transportation, landlord incentives for permanent housing, and more;
    • Extends authority to allow veterans and caregivers in the VA’s Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers to elect for virtual home visits through September 30, 2023 or until VA finalizes their new regulations for the program;
    • Extends the State Veterans Homes’ occupancy rate requirement waiver until September 30, 2024 so that state homes are not financially penalized for staffing shortages; and
    • Makes permanent an authority that allows VA to share personal protective equipment, vaccines, medical supplies, and other resources with State Veterans Homes.
    • The Senators’ efforts received strong backing from Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) and stakeholders nationwide.


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