Nevada has one of the fastest growing veterans’ communities in the nation. Today, one in eight Nevadans are veterans, and this number will continue to grow in the future. I have long fought to ensure that our service members, veterans, and their families receive the retirement and health care benefits that they were promised and deserve.

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21st Century G.I. Bill: A Victory For Nevada’s Veterans

In 2008, I was proud to have cosponsored and secured passage of an expansion of the G.I. Bill, Senator Jim Webb’s Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act. I was also an ardent supporter of the G.I. Bill 2.0, officially known as the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Improvements Act that was enacted in January 2011. The G.I. Bill 2.0 gives the new greatest generation the opportunity to receive full in-state tuition at public institutions and up to $17,500 in tuition at private or foreign institutions of higher education. In addition, the expanded G.I. Bill ensures that our National Guard Soldiers and veterans are eligible and receive credit for time served on Title 32 or in the full-time Active Guard and Reserve. Service members and veterans will also be able to transfer G.I. Bill benefits to their spouse or children.

Veterans Resource Guide Download Image
Veterans Resource Guide (Download PDF)

At a time when over two million men and women have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan and when our troops have had to endure multiple deployments, giving them the opportunity to pursue higher education and help fuel our future economy is the least we can do. We can never fully repay our veterans for their service, but with the new G.I. Bill, we can fulfill our pledge to continue supporting them beyond their tours of duty.

To learn more about the G.I. Bill, click here to visit the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Web site.

To help Nevada students that are interested in pursuing higher education, I put together this resource guide, The Path To College: Resource Guide for Nevada Students (PDF).

Economic Investment

In 2009, I was pleased to support a number of provisions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) that will directly benefit our active duty service members, as well as veterans. I worked to obtain nearly $20 million in economic recovery funding for construction of important improvements to Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Reno’s Veterans Administration (VA) hospital, and the Hawthorne Army Depot. These construction projects provided desperately needed jobs for Nevadans looking for work as the economy continues to recover from the recession. More than $13 million has been dedicated to construction of a new Child Development Center at Nellis AFB. In Reno, more than $5.5 million is slated to make vital repairs and improvements to the VA hospital serving northern Nevada’s veterans. And the Hawthorne Army Depot’s family housing area will benefit from a new water main, a project of nearly $1 million.

Hiring our Returning Service Members

I was a proud cosponsor of the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011, which provides a tax credit of up to $5,600 for hiring veterans who have been looking for a job for more than six months, as well as a $2,400 credit for veterans who are unemployed for more than 4 weeks, but less than 6 months. It also provides a tax credit of up to $9,600 for hiring veterans with service-connected disabilities who have been looking for a job for more than six months. The law also makes the Transition Assistance Program (TAP), an interagency workshop coordinated by Departments of Defense, Labor and Veterans Affairs, mandatory for service members moving on to civilian life to help them secure employment through resume writing workshops and career counseling.

In 2013, I introduced the Putting Our Veterans Back to Work Act to reauthorize the transition, retraining, and employment services created by the VOW to Hire Heroes Amendment, as well as strengthening our vow to protect employment rights for all veterans and providing veteran-owned small businesses with loans. These important benefits will help ensure that those who fought so bravely for our country are able to find work after they transition from the service.

Air America

Women's Air Service Pilots
On March 11, 2010, Senator Reid met with Nevada veterans of the Women’s Air Service Pilots who were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.

Air America was a top-secret passenger and cargo airline owned and operated by the Central Intelligence Agency during the Cold War. Despite accepting high-risk missions in the service of our government – 86 Air America pilots and crew members were killed in action – the veterans of Air America have been denied federal retirement benefits. This is why I introduced the Air America Veterans Act. I was able to include this legislation in the Department of Defense Authorization Act for 2010, beginning the process of providing Air America veterans with federal retirement benefits by requiring the Director of National Intelligence to determine who would be eligible. A report on Air America operations, pay and benefits was submitted to Congress in the Fall of 2011. The report highlights some of the unrivaled actions taken by these quiet heroes during the Vietnam.

I plan to introduce legislation soon to provide benefits to these Americans who carried out remarkable actions for the freedoms that we all we enjoy today.

Supporting Our Fallen Heroes

I have been a strong advocate of supporting our fallen heroes. To this end, I secured a $3.4 million grant to expand the Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City. This grant from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will go towards developing nearly 5,000 additional burial plots on more than 17 acres of land. The funds will also support construction of an administrative building, roads, a committal shelter, cremains burial areas, landscaping, and supporting infrastructure.

Cold War Heroes

The Cold War is a period of great importance in the history of our democracy. In the face of the Soviet threat, brave Americans made significant sacrifices to protect the United States. Regrettably, those who gave their lives in the Cold War have never been properly honored. Perhaps no state in the Union played a more significant role than Nevada in winning the Cold War. Of the 1,149 nuclear detonations conducted by the U.S. as part of the nuclear testing program, 1,021 were performed at the Nevada Test Site. Many Nevadans sacrificed their lives for our country during the Cold War, and our state continues to bear the cost of the Cold War effort. In 2009, we were able to pass the Cold War Historical Sites Study Act, which requires the Department of the Interior to evaluate sites and resources for commemorating and interpreting the Cold War, including the Mount Charleston Plane Crash Memorial. This legislation will help provide long-due recognition by commemorating the heroes of the Cold War and teaching future generations about this period of American history.

Community-Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOC)

I worked with the Capital Asset Realignment for Enhanced Services (CARES) Commission on veterans health to open a fully-operational CBOC in Fallon. I am also continuing my efforts to develop new CBOCs in Elko, Laughlin, and Pahrump, and four new CBOCs to serve the Las Vegas area. Currently, the VA operates CBOCs on a bi-weekly basis in Auburn, Minden, Susanville and Winnemucca to better serve the veterans located across the State of Nevada.

USO Lounge

Since 2007, I worked with the USO to establish a 2,000 square foot rest and relaxation lounge, which opened inside McCarran Airport in Las Vegas in 2010. This is a great service the USO provides, and has seen more than 95,000 military guests of all branches of the U.S. military pass through its doors.

Concurrent Receipt

I have long fought to ensure that our disabled veterans receive both the disability and retired pay that they have earned. Current law prevents veterans classified as disabled by the VA from collecting both disability pay and retirement pay, known as “concurrent receipt,” regardless of the fact that they are eligible for both. As a result, Nevada’s veterans have faced the obstacle of forfeiting retirement pay dollar-for-dollar if they received disability compensation. In some cases, this practice eliminates the full retirement pay to which they are entitled.

Fortunately, under my leadership in the Senate, there has been progress over the past decade to combat this injustice. In 2002, I was pleased that Congress passed a measure known as CRSC, allowing for disabled retired veterans to receive payments that are the financial equivalent of concurrent receipt. In 2003, I was pleased that Congress enacted a 10-year phase-in period of concurrent receipt for military retirees whose disability is 50 percent or greater, and in 2004, Congress eliminated the 10-year waiting period for those veterans with a 100 percent service-related disability; this year, the phase-in period will finally come to fruition. Moreover, in 2008, concurrent receipt eligibility was expanded to include those who are 100 percent disability due to un-employability and extended equivalent financial payments to those who are medically retired or have retired prematurely due to force reduction programs. Most recently, in 2012, I was pleased to offer an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act ensuring that our combat-disabled military retirees receive proper combat-related disability and retirements by eliminating the “glitch” in the CRSC formula that can actually cause a reduction in their compensation amount when the VA increases their disability rating. On February 7, 2013, I introduced the Retired Pay and Restoration Act to permit retired members of the Armed Forces who have a service-connected disability between 0 to 40 percent to receive both their military retired pay and full disability compensation from the VA. I will continue to work with my colleagues to get this important legislation passed.

Veterans In Need

We must take care of our veterans in Nevada and across America who have fought so hard to protect our freedom. No veteran should ever be homeless. This is why I was proud to support the VA’s efforts to eradicate veterans’ homelessness through programs that include Supportive Services for Veteran Families Program and the Veterans Affairs Support Housing (HUD-VASH) program administered jointly with the Department of Housing and Urban Development. I have worked closely with the VA to bring over $16 million in funding and services to Nevada since 2010. Through effective use of these funds and the commitment of countless individuals throughout the state, Nevada has seen a significant reduction in homeless veterans. I will continue to work with city, state and federal officials to bring resources and attention to this problem until every veteran receives the support that they deserve.

I have also worked hard to provide federal funding for job training programs for Nevada’s veterans. Through the Veterans Business and Workforce Development Program, I helped secure $250,000 to address the employment and training needs of eligible veterans in the Silver State. This initiative provides veterans, service-disabled veterans, and military personnel with specialized training and guidance on growing or starting a business, and assists Nevada’s veteran-owned businesses to become more competitive in government contracting and overall business operations. In 2010, I also helped U.S. Vets secure a $170,000 grant through the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program. This program provides job training to help reintegrate homeless veterans into the civilian labor force.

New Las Vegas Veterans’ Hospital

In August 2012, the 700,000 square-foot Las Vegas Veterans Hospital and Community Living Center has continued opened its’ doors. Since 2005, I have secured more than $600 million for this project. When all phases are complete, the new VA Southern Nevada Health Care System Medical Center will consist of 90 inpatient beds, a 120 bed Nursing Home Care Unit, an Ambulatory Care Center, administrative and support functions, and space for Veterans Benefits Administration offices. Furthermore, I worked with the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada to provide transportation services to and from the hospital to ensure access to this world-class facility.

Marine Lance Corporal Matthew A. Snyder's father and members of the VFW, American Legion, and Military Officers Association of America
On May 28, 2010, Senator Reid met with Marine Lance Corporal Matthew A. Snyder’s father and members of the VFW, American Legion, and Military Officers Association of America. After Snyder was killed in Iraq in 2006, members of a Kansas church marred his funeral with ugly, hateful protests. Senator Reid filed a Supreme Court amicus brief supporting Snyder’s family, because he believes that America owes the men and women of the Armed Forces a solemn memorial when they sacrifice their lives to protect America.

Standing Up for America’s Fallen Heroes

In 2006, members of an extremist Kansas church interrupted the funeral of Marine Lance Corporal Matthew A. Snyder, who was killed serving our nation in Iraq, with ugly and hateful protests. I supported the Senate’s successful effort to pass the Respect for America’s Fallen Heroes Act, which prohibits such demonstrations on or near the grounds of military cemeteries. In May of 2010, I led 57 of my colleagues in filing an amicus curiae brief with the Supreme Court to support Lance Corporal Snyder’s family. The Snyder family won a judgment against the protestors in a lower court, but this decision was overturned at the appellate level. While the Supreme Court upheld the appellate level decision, I continue to strongly believe that America owes the men and women of the Armed Forces and their families the right to a solemn memorial when they sacrifice their lives to protect America.

To learn more about the amicus brief and to read my letter about its filing, please click here.

Support For Wounded Warriors

In 2009, I was proud to lead passage of the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act. This sweeping legislation provides unprecedented levels of support for caregivers of seriously injured veterans, veterans in rural areas, women veterans, and homeless veterans. This legislation fulfills the VA’s obligation to the nation’s wounded veterans by providing their caregivers with training, counseling, support, and a living stipend; expands services in rural areas; ensures that veterans who are catastrophically disabled or who need emergency care in the community are not inappropriately charged for those services; and improves veterans’ access to mental health care.

TRICARE

I have worked tirelessly to protect and improve TRICARE beneficiaries’ access to care while keeping payments low. For example, I worked to mandate that the future growth rate for TRICARE enrollment fees not exceed the military retirement cost-of-living adjustment. In addition, the Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act rejected dramatic increases in TRICARE enrollment fees and restored an estimated savings of $452 million in TRICARE reductions proposed in the Fiscal Year 2013 budget. I also fought to cap future increases for pharmacy co-pays to the annual cost-of-living adjustment. Furthermore, I helped pass legislation extending current TRICARE physician reimbursement rates, allowing VA doctors to continue to see new patients, conduct outreach to rural areas, and allow them to make needed improvements to their practices in order to continue giving the best care possible. Please be assured that I will continue fighting to preserve the unique role of TRICARE in our nation’s healthcare system.

Veterans Benefits Claim Processing

The VA claims backlog is unacceptable and must be eliminated.  To fix this inequity, I have been actively working with President Obama, the VA, and officials at the Reno VA Regional Office to ensure that claims are adjudicated quicker.  To help, I supported legislation in 2008 that provided $100 million to hire 1,400 claims related personnel.  In 2009, I provided $150 million to hire temporary claims processing personnel.  In 2010, I supported legislation that provided $460 million to hire 4,048 additional claims processing personnel.  In April 2013, I personally wrote to the VA Under Secretary for Benefits Allison Hickey and Reno VA Regional Office Director Edward Russell, offering help in addressing Nevada’s backlog of VA claims.  I also signed on to a letter to President Obama asking that he take direct action and involvement in ending the current claims backlog.  Following up on these letters, I instructed my staff to set up a meeting between the staff of the Nevada delegation and the VA Deputy Under Secretary of Field Operations to see what we can do to help end the claims backlog at the Reno VA Regional Office.  Finally, as part of the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2014, I secured $2.455 billion to help reduce the claims backlog—an increase of more than $294 million over Fiscal Year 2013 funding.  Through these efforts, we are beginning to see a reduction in the claims backlog, including at the Reno Regional Office.  I will continue to support President Obama’s plan to end the claims backlog by 2015 and will continue to push the VA so that this goal is met.

Resources for Nevada’s Veterans

Retiree Benefits Guide (download PDF)
Retiree Benefits Guide (download PDF)