funding for veterans is going up twice as fast under Bush as it did under Clinton. And the number of veterans getting health benefits is going up 25% under Bush's budgets. That's hardly a cut.
VETERANS BENEFITS ACT OF 2003
In an Oval Office ceremony held December 16, 2003, President Bush signed H.R. 2297, the Veterans Benefits Act of 2003, a bill composed of 7 titles with 39 substantive provisions. All totaled, the new law authorizes $1 billion over the next ten years for new and expanded benefits for disabled veterans, surviving spouses, and children. As enacted, H.R. 2297, the Veterans Benefits Act of 2003:
Allows VA to provide specially adapted housing grant to severely disabled service members prior to their separation from active duty service.
Increases the specially adapted automobile grant from $9,000 to $11,000, and increase the specially adapted housing grants from $48,000 to $50,000 for the most severely disabled veterans and from $9,250 to $10,000 for less severely disabled veterans. [Applies to assistance furnished on or after the date of the enactment of this Act (December 16, 2003).]
Restores dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC), VA home loan guarantee, and education, benefit eligibility for spouses remarried after age 57, and burial eligibility for all remarried spouses. [Effective January 1, 2004. Widows who remarried prior to the date of enactment of this act and after their 57th birthdays have one year from the date of enactment in which to apply. The burial eligibility is effective for deaths which occurred on or after January 1, 2000.]
Increases monthly educational benefits for spouses and dependent children of disabled veterans from $695 to $788 for full-time study, from $522 to $592 for three-quarter time study, and from $347 to $394 for half-time study. [Effective July 1, 2004]
Expands benefits eligibility to children with spina bifida who were born to certain Vietnam-era veterans who served in Korea near the demilitarized zone.
Allows the surviving spouse or dependent children to receive the full amount of accrued benefits if the veteran dies while their claim is still pending. [Effective for deaths occurring on or after the date of enactment (December 16, 2003).]
Eliminates the 30-day requirement for POWs to qualify for presumptions of service-connection for certain disabilities: psychosis, any of the anxiety states, dysthymic disorder, organic residuals of frostbite, and post-traumatic osteoarthritis.
Expands the Montgomery GI Bill program to cover self-employment training programs of less than six months and entrepreneurship courses at approved institutions. [Takes effect on the date that is six months after the date of the enactment of this Act (December 16, 2003) and shall apply to self-employment on-job training approved and pursued on or after that date.]
Allows federal agencies to create “sole-source” contracts for disabled veteran-owned small businesses - up to $5 million for manufacturing contract awards and up to $3 million for non-manufacturing contract awards.
Allows federal agencies to restrict certain contracts to disabled veteran-owned small businesses if at least two such concerns are qualified to bid on the contract.