Tester sponsors bill to help American Indian Veterans

Legislation will fix unfair assessment of VA benefits as income

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Calling it a simple fairness issue, Senator Jon Tester has sponsored legislation to ensure that American Indian veterans who live on tribal land can access the same benefits as other veterans who do not live on tribal land.

Low-income Indian veterans who live on tribal land often have difficulty accessing public housing assistance because their VA benefits count as income, often putting these veterans over the income threshold for public assistance. Tester’s bipartisan measure would exclude VA benefits received by American Indian veterans from being considered income. The bill will not increase government spending.

“This is about upholding our end of the bargain with folks who serve our country,” said Tester, a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.  “The benefits a veteran puts his or her life on the line for shouldn’t count against them if they need housing assistance.”

Tester is also a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs’ Committee and has been a champion for rural veterans since his election to the Senate..

The measure is also sponsored by Senator Ron Wyden from Oregon and will receive a hearing in the Indian Affairs Committee.