Sen. Warner is committed to making sure we care for members of our military during and after their service. He believes we can honor our veterans’ service with adequate health care, a simplified benefits and appeals process, and improved mental health services for soldiers returning home.
For years, Sen. Warner has been beating the drum that private providers of military housing often supply substandard, defective or even dangerous accommodations. Too many Virginia military families complained of black mold or splintered flooring and heard nothing from their landlords, and Warner knew we needed to make a change. In 2019, the President signed into law Sen. Warner’s Ensuring Safe Housing for Our Military Act, as part of the annual defense bill. The legislation gives military families new tools to hold private military housing corporations to account when they fail to provide safe living conditions for our military families. The annual defense bill also included language Sen. Warner supported creating the first-ever Tenants Bill of Rights for military families.
Virginia’s military bases and contractors do more than just keep us safe – they are huge economic drivers for the Commonwealth. Sen. Warner recognizes that importance and is vigilant about identifying and actualizing opportunities to expand Virginia’s defense economy. He helped win approval for the block buy of two new aircraft carriers which will help sustain an estimated 25,000 jobs in Hampton Roads. Sen. Warner has further pushed for increased funding for military construction across Virginia. In 2019, he helped secure half a billion in funding for projects which will stimulate economic activity and create work for our military personnel and civilians alike. He also led the effort to relocate the F-22 flight and maintenance formal training units to Joint Base Langley-Eustis.
For years, Sen. Warner has been devoted to improving performance and reducing strain on Virginia’s VA hospitals. The Daily Press says Warner headed up “the bipartisan push for veteran healthcare projects across the country, including a new VA medical center to be constructed in south Hampton Roads.” Warner’s advocacy has helped keep plans for new facilities on track and top of mind for decision-makers in the federal government. Sen. Warner is deeply committed to making sure that every veteran in Virginia has access to the high-quality services they need.
When American servicemembers are injured and cannot continue their service, they are given severance disability pay. That money should be tax-free, but tens of thousands of veterans were improperly overtaxed due to a flaw in the 2017 GOP tax bill. Sen. Warner set out to fix that issue, and was the lead Democratic sponsor of the bipartisan Combat-Injured Veterans Tax Fairness Act, allowing injured veterans to get their money back from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Sen. Warner is making sure that veterans who need at-home care to mitigate injuries sustained during their service have access to that care, and that the government pays for it. We owe a debt to these men and women who served our country, and when Sen. Warner found out that some vets bore exorbitant costs for necessary medical care, he fought for them. For years, an estimated 4.4 million veterans injured prior to 9/11 were not eligible for caretaker benefits. Sen. Warner made change happen — in 2018, he passed legislation to make sure all of our veterans have access to vital at-home care resources.
Sen. Warner also worked to repeal the Military Widows Tax, an undue burden on Gold Star families, who lost a family member during military service. The bi-partisan Military Widow’s Tax Elimination Act repeals the law preventing as many as 67,000 surviving military spouses across the country from receiving their full Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs survivor benefits, and was included in the 2019 annual defense funding bill, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).