America’s veterans have made every sacrifice to protect our country. Although we can never fully repay the debt we owe them, it is our duty as a nation to fulfill our commitments to them. Congressman Sarbanes has worked hard to ensure that veterans receive the compensation, health care, educational opportunities and employment assistance they deserve. He has fought to increase the veterans’ health budget and to pass a new GI Bill for the 21st century, increasing educational benefits so all our veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan can attend college and thrive in the civilian workforce.
If you or a veteran you know needs help, please contact Congressman Sarbanes’ district office in Towson at (410) 832-8890.
Helping Veterans Seeking Medical Care and Benefits
The backlog of disability and medical claims at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is unacceptable. In particular, the VA Baltimore Regional Office suffers from severe delays and extreme backlogs that have kept veterans in Maryland from receiving critical benefits they earned through their military service.
At the urging of the Maryland Congressional delegation, the VA has provided additional staff in Baltimore; revamped claims processor training programs and instituted a comprehensive, mandatory training for both management and processing staff; invested heavily in technology and digital records; and renewed its focus on older claims so that veterans who have waited longest can finally have resolution.
The VA has made progress on resolving initial claims, but has faced a growing backlog of claims appeals. In order to expedite final claims decisions for veterans, Congressman Sarbanes cosponsored legislation, written with the input of veterans service organizations, to modernize the appeals process, and supported a similar bill that has been signed into law. This legislation created distinct tracks for appeals to grant veterans the flexibility to choose the option that best works for their situation.
Congressman Sarbanes supported comprehensive legislation to address the immediate and long-term needs of veterans seeking medical care nationwide. The VA Choice program allows veterans who experience extensive wait times for medical care to go outside of the VA network for care; provides additional resources to hire more VA physicians and other medical staff; and reforms VA procedures and personnel policy to ensure accountability.
Congressman Sarbanes is also working to streamline the disability claims process for veterans at other federal agencies. No one wants to put America’s veterans through a bureaucratic runaround. After working with a disabled Gulf War veteran who was denied Social Security benefits, he introduced the Benefit Rating Acceleration for Veteran Entitlements (BRAVE) Act to make it easier for disabled veterans to access Social Security benefits. Congressman Sarbanes worked closely with the Social Security Administration to make this new, streamlined process a reality.
Veterans’ Service Corps
Congressman Sarbanes introduced legislation to create a Veterans’ Service Corps – to empower Americans to serve veterans and veterans to continue serving here in America. This bill was signed into law as part of the Serve America Act.
Under the Americorps program, Vet Corps projects may include building housing for veterans, transporting veterans to medical appointments, assisting with rehabilitative classes such as physical therapy, creating care packages for current members of the military serving overseas, volunteering in veterans’ hospitals, pairing younger veterans to work with elderly or disabled veterans, performing outreach to the veteran community to provide them information and access to services available to them and other services.
In October 2015, Congressman Sarbanes and Corporation for National and Community Service – the federal agency that administers AmeriCorps – officially launched Vet Corps with a commemorative pinning ceremony to recognize veterans in Maryland who have continued to make a meaningful impact on their communities as civilians.
Resources for Veterans
- Health Care: The VA Maryland Health Care System is responsible for providing Veterans care through numerous locations around the state, including medical centers located in downtown Baltimore, Perry Point and a variety of outpatient clinics.
- Post-9/11 GI Bill: Veterans using the Post-9/11 GI Bill may find this Frequently Asked Questions database useful.
- eBenefits: This site allows Veterans to file claims online, as well as track the status of their pending claim with the VA.
- MDVA: In addition to providing Veterans in Maryland with information and support, the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs also acts as a Veterans Service Organization that can assist with filing claims.
- National Cemetery Administration: The VA can provide burial and funeral benefits in some cases.
- Housing: Through the HUD/VASH program, the VA has partnered with HUD to find affordable housing to combat homelessness.
If you, a friend or a family member needs additional assistance accessing veterans’ benefits, please contact Congressman Sarbanes’ office at (410) 832-8890 or by email.