Monday evening, Congressman Randy Neugebauer (TX-19) introduced H.R. 5148; a companion bill to S. 2550, introduced last week by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX). H.R. 5148 would forgive the debt owed to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs from men and women who have lost their lives in combat.
"This bill ensures that we honor our fallen heroes by treating the families they left behind honorably while recognizing their tremendous sacrifice on behalf of a nation that is indebted to them," Neugebauer stated.
Current law states that if a member of the armed services is killed in the line of duty and owes the Veterans Administration any outstanding debts, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs must contact the family for collection. Current law does allow the Veterans Affairs Secretary the flexibility to waive the requirement in certain cases. This legislation would end the discretion of the Secretary and establish a standard procedure, clarifying the law. Thus far the VA has attempted to collect over $56,000 from the families of 22 deceased service members, with the bulk of the money owed in the form of college loans.
"H.R 5148, the Combat Veterans Debt Elimination Act would correct this injustice to our men and women in uniform who have given the ultimate sacrifice for their nation and wipe clean all debts that fall into this category. The fact that the VA is required to collect debts from grieving parents and spouses is unacceptable. If enacted, this legislation would be retroactive to September 11, 2001. I applaud Senator Hutchison's leadership on this issue and hope that together we can remedy this egregious situation quickly and repair this inequity in the law," Neugebauer concluded.
Source: U.S. Rep. Randy Neugebauer
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