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Rounds, King Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Fast-Track Combat Veterans’ Access to Health Care Benefits

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Angus King (I-Maine), members of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, introduced bipartisan legislation to allow combat veterans to enroll in their health care benefits program before officially transitioning out of active duty in order to make certain that service members don’t experience a lag in coverage.

The Combat Veterans Pre-Enrollment Act would create an opt-in program allowing transitioning service members to access VA health care services on their first day as a civilian. Currently, transitioning service members must wait until they have left the military and received their official separation paperwork, which can take months, to apply for Veterans Health Administration health care and other services, creating a period where veterans do not have access to the health care benefits they have earned.

Rounds and King are joined by Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.).

“Veterans represent the best of our country. Our men and women in uniform have made incredible sacrifices so that we can be free, and we have a responsibility to fulfill our commitment to them once their service is complete,” said Rounds. “The Combat Veterans Pre-Enrollment Act would eliminate the lapse in care that many service members face when transitioning from the military to civilian life, and make certain that service members have timely access to the health care services they need upon separation from the military.”

“Our combat veterans continually put their lives on the line to protect our freedoms and they deserve our utmost support and care, they have retired the uniform,” said King. “The Combat Veterans Pre-Enrollment Act is another way in which we can guarantee our servicemembers experience a warm handoff in their transition to civilian life. By eliminating this bureaucratic lag, we can deliver VA benefits to our men and women who served, the moment they return to civilian status.”

“The Combat Veterans Pre-Enrollment Act, S. 3560, is essential to the type of service and support our Service Members immediately need when they transition from the military,” said Marty Pennock, Disabled American Veterans Department of South Dakota Adjutant. “It clearly focuses in on one of the most important areas that arise upon discharge from their Service, and that is in their health. This legislation clearly is founded by those that understand the needs of our military and the importance of getting to the resources and linking our Service Members to VA as early as possible.”

“As Service members make the transition to civilian life it can be a very stressful time,” said Rick Williamson, Department of South Dakota Veterans of Foreign Wars Legislative Chairman. “Making sure that they have healthcare, medications, and benefits is a great start to assuring them the stability they deserve as they enter the next chapter of their life. The Department of South Dakota, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States proudly supports this legislation and congratulates Senators Rounds and King for doing the right thing.”

“Transitioning service members face challenges post separation. Making sure these veterans enroll in the healthcare and benefits they have earned will help ease that transition,” said Pat Murray, Legislative Director for Veterans of Foreign Wars. “VFW supports the Combat Veterans Pre-Enrollment Act of 2023 in order to make transition easier for the men and women who served our country."

Read the full text of the bill HERE.