Tester Delivers for Veterans in 2023

President Biden signed three Tester veterans bills into law—the most of any of the 535 members of Congress—delivering stronger benefits and health care to veterans and their families

Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester successfully passed three bipartisan veterans bills into law this year—the most of any member of Congress. These new laws are part of Tester’s continued commitment to deliver timely and quality health care, benefits, and services to veterans and their families in Montana and nationwide.

“The cost of war continues long after our servicemembers leave uniform, and I’m proud we fought to deliver significant wins that help veterans better access the care and benefits they earned during their service,” said Tester. “From delivering long-overdue care and benefits to hundreds of thousands of toxic-exposed veterans and their loved ones through the PACT Act, to increasing VA compensation benefits for veterans with service-connected disabilities and military survivors, and more. We’ve still got a lot of work to do, and I’ll continue to take my cues from veterans and work with anyone, Republican or Democrat, to make sure we’re honoring the commitment we made to our nation’s veterans.”

President Joe Biden signed the following bipartisan veterans bills authored by Tester in 2023 into law—the most of any lawmaker in the 118th Congress to date:

  • Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2023 – Provides a 3.2 percent cost-of-living increase for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) compensation benefits for veterans with service-connected disabilities and military survivors.
  • Fiscal Year 2023 Veterans Affairs Major Medical Facility Authorization Act – Approves several VA construction projects to better serve veterans nationwide, including at the Fort Harrison VA Medical Center in Montana.
  • Fiscal Year 2024 VA Extenders Legislation – Extends critical VA services and programs relied upon by the nation’s veterans and their families, including those that ensure veterans have timely access to medical disability examinations, protect student veterans from losing their earned GI bill or other VA education benefits when educational institutions are closed, and extend emergency preparedness funding for VA to support its critical role in responding to public health or other emergencies.

As Chairman, Tester also secured the following victories for veterans and their families in Montana and across the nation:

  • Tester successfully pushed VA to halt foreclosures for six months for veterans at-risk of losing their home through no fault of their own.
  • Following sustained efforts from Tester, VA delayed a rule to change reimbursement rates for special mode transportation, including air and ground ambulances, that could have resulted in severe reductions in access to their services for rural America.
  • VA announced a tougher Electronic Health Record Modernization (EHRM) program contract with Oracle Cerner that has better protections for veterans and taxpayers following sustained pressure from Tester pushing VA to aggressively renegotiate the contract. This change came on the heels of VA announcing a broad overhaul of the EHRM program in line with Tester’s bipartisan EHR RESET Act.
  • As Chairman and a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Tester helped secure a new, expanded Kalispell clinic that will be built to better serve Flathead-area veterans. The clinic will offer expanded health care services—including primary care, mental health, pharmacy services, and women’s health—to an estimated 5,800 veterans in the area.
  • Tester marked the one-year anniversary of his Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act, which has provided a historic expansion of care and benefits for generations of toxic-exposed veterans and their families. More than one million toxic-exposed veterans and survivors have filed for PACT Actclaims, more than 600,000 veterans and survivors claims have been approved, and more than five million veterans have been screened for toxic exposure under this law.
  • Following the Chairman’s backing, Josh Jacobs was confirmed as VA Under Secretary for Benefits and Tanya Bradsher was confirmed as VA Deputy Secretary. Under Tester’s leadership, all top five VA leadership posts are filled for the first time since 2014.

As Chairman, Tester led 19 Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearings on topics including VA’s mental health and suicide prevention efforts, the military to civilian transition, PACT Act implementation, preventing financial exploitation of veterans and their benefits, substance use disorder care for veterans in rural America, and on pending legislation to improve accountability at VA and boost the Department’s workforce.

Tester also hosted PACT Act roundtables and events in BillingsKalispell, and Missoula to hear directly from toxic-exposed veterans about the law’s implementation and their experiences applying for and receiving PACT Act benefits, and a TRICARE roundtable in Great Falls.

Chairman Tester also received the following awards for his efforts on behalf of veterans and their families: the Disabled American Veterans’ (DAV) Veterans Champion Award, DAV’s highest legislative honor, the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans’ Public Policy Award in part for his efforts to get the CHARGE Act over the finish line, and the American Ambulance Association’s Legislator of the Year Award, in recognition of his work to push back on VA’s rule to change reimbursement rates for air and ground emergency transportation services that are critical in connecting rural veterans with lifesaving care.

When the Senate returns in 2024, Tester is committed to working to expand veterans’ access to health care and benefits—no matter where they live. The Chairman will continue his push to improve veterans’ mental health care and VA’s community care program with his Making Community Care Work for Veterans Act, to fix an injustice preventing combat-injured veterans from receiving their full military benefits with his bipartisan Major Richard Star Act, to hold unaccredited crooks scamming veterans’ hard-earned benefits accountable with his bipartisan GUARD VA Benefits Act, to strengthen accountability at VA with his bipartisan LEAD Act, and to build VA’s capacity to serve veterans, especially in rural America, with his bipartisan VA CAREERS Act and BUILD Act.

A long-time champion for veterans, Tester has worked alongside veterans and Veterans Service Organizations to shepherd landmark, bipartisan legislation through Congress for veterans and their families such as the PACT Act, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act, the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act, the Deborah Sampson Act, and the Johnny Isakson and David P. Roe, M.D. Veterans, Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act.


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