Year-End Spending Bill Wraps Up Series of Legislative Wins for Veterans in 2022

Year-End Spending Bill Wraps Up Series of Legislative Wins for Veterans in 2022
Cory Titus, MOAA's director of Government Relations for Veteran Benefits and Guard/Reserve Affairs, right, stands with veterans advocate Jon Stewart during a June 2022 press event in Washington, D.C., supporting the Sergeant 1st Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022. The PACT Act, one of several legislative victories for veterans last year, became law Aug. 10, 2022. (Mike Morones/MOAA)

By René Campos and Cory Titus


While MOAA supported key veterans legislation throughout 2022 – the massive Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act, for example – a much larger number of veterans-related bills ended up in the huge $1.7 trillion omnibus legislation signed Dec. 29 by the president to fund the government for FY 2023.


This year-end legislation helped MOAA close the books on a successful 2022, with achievements made possible by our dedicated and committed MOAA grassroots advocates in our chapter and council network; our veteran and military service organization and Military Coalition partners; and the larger veteran and stakeholder community.


[RELATED: What a $1.7 Trillion Funding Bill Means to Servicemembers, Veterans, and Families]


Here’s a look at some details from the year-end omnibus, plus a recap of other key legislation from throughout 2022:


Consolidated Appropriations Act

Some veterans’ provisions in the 4,155-page bill seek to:

  • Fill gaps in accessing health care for veterans living in remote or hard-to-reach areas. The legislation requires the VA to evaluate and make improvements to community care access standards, establish a pilot program for veterans to self-schedule community care appointments, and improve provider credentialing, rural telehealth, and mental health interventions.

  • Permanently expand emergency relief funding to provide grants and services to veterans experiencing homelessness.

  • Establish a pilot program to reimburse travel expenses for low-income veterans living in rural areas.

  • Expand treatment and research for veterans diagnosed with prostate cancer.

  • Increase transparency, accountability, and improve performance over the department’s information technology systems and projects like the electronic health record.

  • Improve supply chain issues so the VA can respond more effectively to national emergencies like those that surfaced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Strengthen mental health programs, to include expanding research and staffing; delivering care and services to American Indian and Alaska Native veterans; and improving VA’s Crisis Line.

  • Cut unnecessary paperwork for veterans receiving VA clothing allowances. Veterans who have lifelong injuries will not be required to resubmit for this allowance each year.

  • Require the VA to determine whether a previously identified service-connected injury served as a principal or contributing factor for veterans who died from COVID-19 when survivors file for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC).


[RELATED: VA Debuts New Life Insurance Program]


More 2022 Legislative Highlights

June 7, Making Advances in Mammography and Medical Options for Veterans Act: Provides life-saving screening, treatment, and care for veterans diagnosed with breast cancer when the need has never been more urgent, given the significantly higher risk of breast cancer and other cancers in the military population.


June 23, Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas SERVICE Act: Expands eligibility for VA health care mammography screenings to veterans who served in certain locations during specific periods, including those who were exposed to toxic substances.


Aug. 10, Honoring Our PACT Act: Expands VA health care and benefits for veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxic substances. Specifically, the law:

  • Expands and extends eligibility for VA health care for veterans with toxic exposures and veterans of the Vietnam, Gulf War, and post-9/11 eras.

  • Adds more than 20 new presumptive conditions for burn pits and other toxic exposures.

  • Adds more presumptive-exposure locations for Agent Orange and radiation.

  • Requires the VA to provide a toxic exposure screening to every veteran enrolled in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA).

  • Helps the VA improve research, staff education, and treatment related to toxic exposure.




Aug. 10, Veterans Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act: Establishes the annual adjustment to military retirees and veterans receiving disability payments from the VA triggered by inflation and an annual adjustment to the federal COLA


Aug. 17, Solid Start Act: Makes permanent the VA Solid Start program. Established in 2019, this outreach program provides regular contact with veterans in their first year of separation from the military to help direct them to support services and benefits.


Dec. 27, MST Claims Coordination Act: Modifies how the VA processes claims related to military sexual trauma (MST). The VA must improve communications and outreach to veterans, including connecting them to health care and mental health services.

Jan. 5, 2023, Veterans Auto and Education Improvement Act of 2022: Provides the VA secretary with the authority to give eligible veterans an automobile grant every 10 years; the previous law limited this to a once-in-a-lifetime grant. The provision initially will be open to veterans who have not received the grant in 30 years, then will expand to permit veterans to get supplemental grants every 10 years in 2032. The law also permanently authorizes the VA to continue education benefits and monthly housing stipends when an education program has been moved to distance learning due to an emergency or health-related situation.


[RELATED: Feds to Veterans: Beware of Scammers Charging You to File for Benefits]


A Rest for Congress and MOAA

While we enter a period of reset where the new Congress establishes its committees, rules, and priorities, there isn’t a lot of time to ease back into “the people’s business.”


There is still unfinished business from the 117th Congress, such as addressing the looming debt ceiling limit so the government does not default on its loans this year. There are also current and equally pressing issues such as inflation rates, climate change, disaster relief, and a multitude of other major problems. Then there is the need for Congress to conduct regular business through the passage of authorization and appropriations bills, which are highly consequential to our national security and to our uniformed service and veteran communities.


MOAA too has reset its legislative focus and priorities for the new Congress. We are enthusiastically awaiting the new Congress to start its business for the year. MOAA has not rested during this transition period between the Congresses because there is too much work to do, too many unresolved issues to solve … and little time to do it all in this session.


[RELATED: MOAA’s Legislative Priorities for the 118th Congress]


We will once again rely on our passionate and engaged advocates to help synchronize our messaging and expand our voice on Capitol Hill. There have been many hard-fought wins in MOAA’s history to improve the health and well-being of those we serve, but these gains are never guaranteed. Therefore, we must be ever vigilant and actively engaged so we can protect, defend, and sustain our all-volunteer force and the benefits earned through service.


MOAA’s Call to Action

It is time for our members and partners to reset and resolve to actively join MOAA in our advocacy efforts with Congress. Please do so by:

  • Staying current on our legislative advocacy issues, get alerts, and act on those alerts in MOAA’s weekly newsletter.
  • Signing up for MOAA’s Legislative Action Center and engage directly with your members of Congress.
  • Joining a MOAA Chapter and engage in national and local issues through networking and community engagement.
  • Encouraging those you know to become a MOAA member, or to engage in legislative advocacy by signing up for The MOAA Newsletter and the Legislative Action Center.


René Campos is MOAA's Senior Director of Government Relations for Veterans-Wounded Warrior Care. Cory Titus is MOAA's Director of Government Relations for Veteran Benefits and Guard/Reserve Affairs.


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