Text: S.714 — 105th Congress (1997-1998)All Information (Except Text)

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Public Law No: 105-114 (11/21/1997)

 
[105th Congress Public Law 114]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]


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[DOCID: f:publ114.105]


[[Page 111 STAT. 2277]]

Public Law 105-114
105th Congress

                                 An Act


 
 To amend title 38, United States Code, to revise, extend, and improve 
       programs for veterans. <<NOTE: Nov. 21, 1997 -  [S. 714]>> 

     <<NOTE: Veterans' Benefits Act of 1997.>> Be it enacted by the 
Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in 
Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE; TABLE OF CONTENTS.

     <<NOTE: 38 USC 101 note.>> (a) Short Title.--This Act may be cited 
as the ``Veterans' Benefits Act of 1997''.

    (b) Table of Contents.--The table of contents of this Act is as 
follows:

Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.
Sec. 2. References to title 38, United States Code.

   TITLE I--EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY PROCESS IN THE DEPARTMENT OF 
                            VETERANS AFFAIRS

Sec. 101. Equal employment responsibilities.
Sec. 102. Discrimination complaint adjudication authority.
Sec. 103. Assessment and review of Department of Veterans Affairs 
           employment discrimination complaint resolution system.

           TITLE II--EXTENSION AND IMPROVEMENT OF AUTHORITIES

Sec. 201. Native American Veteran Housing Loan Program.
Sec. 202. Treatment and rehabilitation for seriously mentally ill and 
           homeless veterans.
Sec. 203. Extension of certain authorities relating to homeless 
           veterans.
Sec. 204. Annual report on assistance to homeless veterans.
Sec. 205. Expansion of authority for enhanced-use leases of Department 
           of Veterans Affairs real property.
Sec. 206. Permanent authority to furnish noninstitutional alternatives 
           to nursing home care.
Sec. 207. Extension of Health Professional Scholarship Program.
Sec. 208. Policy on breast cancer mammography.
Sec. 209. Persian Gulf War veterans.
Sec. 210. Presidential report on preparations for a national response to 
           medical emergencies arising from the terrorist use of weapons 
           of mass destruction.

  TITLE III--MAJOR MEDICAL FACILITY PROJECTS CONSTRUCTION AUTHORIZATION

Sec. 301. Authorization of major medical facility projects.
Sec. 302. Authorization of major medical facility leases.
Sec. 303. Authorization of appropriations.

              TITLE IV--TECHNICAL AND CLARIFYING AMENDMENTS

Sec. 401. Technical amendments.
Sec. 402. Clarification of certain health care authorities.
Sec. 403. Correction of name of medical center.
Sec. 404. Improvement to spina bifida benefits for children of Vietnam 
           veterans.

SEC. 2. REFERENCES TO TITLE 38, UNITED STATES CODE.

    Except as otherwise expressly provided, whenever in this Act an 
amendment or repeal is expressed in terms of an amendment

[[Page 111 STAT. 2278]]

to, or repeal of, a section or other provision, the reference shall be 
considered to be made to a section or other provision of title 38, 
United States Code.

   TITLE I--EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY PROCESS IN THE DEPARTMENT OF 
                            VETERANS AFFAIRS

SEC. 101. EQUAL EMPLOYMENT RESPONSIBILITIES.

    (a) In General.--(1) Chapter 5 is amended by inserting at the end of 
subchapter I the following new section:

``Sec. 516. Equal employment responsibilities

    ``(a) The Secretary shall provide that the employment discrimination 
complaint resolution system within the Department be established and 
administered so as to encourage timely and fair resolution of concerns 
and complaints. The Secretary shall take steps to ensure that the system 
is administered in an objective, fair, and effective manner and in a 
manner that is perceived by employees and other interested parties as 
being objective, fair, and effective.
    ``(b) The Secretary shall provide--
            ``(1) that employees responsible for counseling functions 
        associated with employment discrimination and for receiving, 
        investigating, and processing complaints of employment 
        discrimination shall be supervised in those functions by, and 
        report to, an Assistant Secretary or a Deputy Assistant 
        Secretary for complaint resolution management; and
            ``(2) that employees performing employment discrimination 
        complaint resolution functions at a facility of the Department 
        shall not be subject to the authority, direction, and control of 
        the Director of the facility with respect to those functions.

    ``(c) The Secretary shall ensure that all employees of the 
Department receive adequate education and training for the purposes of 
this section and section 319 of this title.
    ``(d) The Secretary shall, when appropriate, impose disciplinary 
measures, as authorized by law, in the case of employees of the 
Department who engage in unlawful employment discrimination, including 
retaliation against an employee asserting rights under an equal 
employment opportunity law.
    ``(e)(1)(A) Not later than 30 days after the end of each calendar 
quarter, the Assistant Secretary for Human Resources and Administration 
shall submit to the Committees on Veterans' Affairs of the Senate and 
House of Representatives a report summarizing the employment 
discrimination complaints filed against the individuals referred to in 
paragraph (2) during such quarter.
    ``(B) Subparagraph (A) shall apply in the case of complaints filed 
against individuals on the basis of such individuals' personal conduct 
and shall not apply in the case of complaints filed solely on the basis 
of such individuals' positions as officials of the Department.
    ``(2) Paragraph (1) applies to the following officers and employees 
of the Department:
            ``(A) The Secretary.
            ``(B) The Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

[[Page 111 STAT. 2279]]

            ``(C) The Under Secretary for Health and the Under Secretary 
        for Benefits.
            ``(D) Each Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs and each 
        Deputy Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
            ``(E) The Director of the National Cemetery System.
            ``(F) The General Counsel of the Department.
            ``(G) The Chairman of the Board of Veterans' Appeals.
            ``(H) The Chairman of the Board of Contract Appeals of the 
        Department.
            ``(I) The director and the chief of staff of each medical 
        center of the Department.
            ``(J) The director of each Veterans Integrated Services 
        Network.
            ``(K) The director of each regional office of the 
        Department.
            ``(L) Each program director of the Central Office of the 
        Department.

    ``(3) Each report under this subsection--
            ``(A) may not disclose information which identifies the 
        individuals filing, or the individuals who are the subject of, 
        the complaints concerned or the facilities at which the 
        discrimination identified in such complaints is alleged to have 
        occurred;
            ``(B) shall summarize such complaints by type and by equal 
        employment opportunity field office area in which filed; and
            ``(C) shall include copies of such complaints, with the 
        information described in subparagraph (A) redacted.

    ``(4) Not later than April 1 each year, the Assistant Secretary 
shall submit to the committees referred to in paragraph (1)(A) a report 
on the complaints covered by paragraph (1) during the preceding year, 
including the number of such complaints filed during that year and the 
status and resolution of the investigation of such complaints.
    ``(f) The Secretary shall ensure that an employee of the Department 
who seeks counseling relating to employment discrimination may elect to 
receive such counseling from an employee of the Department who carries 
out equal employment opportunity counseling functions on a full-time 
basis rather than from an employee of the Department who carries out 
such functions on a part-time basis.
    ``(g) The number of employees of the Department whose duties include 
equal employment opportunity counseling functions as well as other, 
unrelated functions may not exceed 40 full-time equivalent employees. 
Any such employee may be assigned equal employment opportunity 
counseling functions only at Department facilities in remote geographic 
locations (as determined by the Secretary). The Secretary may waive the 
limitation in the preceding sentence in specific cases.
    ``(h) The provisions of this section shall be implemented in a 
manner consistent with procedures applicable under regulations 
prescribed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.''.
    (2) The table of sections at the beginning of such chapter is 
amended by inserting after the item relating to section 515 the 
following new item:

``516. Equal employment responsibilities.''.

     <<NOTE: 38 USC 516 note.>> (b) Reports.--(1) The Secretary of 
Veterans Affairs shall submit to Congress reports on the implementation 
and operation of the equal employment opportunity system within the 
Department of Veterans Affairs. The first such report shall be submitted 
not

[[Page 111 STAT. 2280]]

later than April 1, 1998, and subsequent reports shall be submitted not 
later than January 1, 1999, and January 1, 2000.

    (2) The first report under paragraph (1) shall set forth the actions 
taken by the Secretary to implement section 516 of title 38, United 
States Code, as added by subsection (a), and other actions taken by the 
Secretary in relation to the equal employment opportunity system within 
the Department of Veterans Affairs.
    (3) The subsequent reports under paragraph (1) shall set forth, for 
each equal employment opportunity field office of the Department and for 
the Department as a whole, the following:
            (A) Any information to supplement the information submitted 
        in the report under paragraph (2) that the Secretary considers 
        appropriate.
            (B) The number of requests for counseling relating to 
        employment discrimination received during the one-year period 
        ending on the date of the report concerned.
            (C) The number of employment discrimination complaints 
        received during such period.
            (D) The status of each complaint described in subparagraph 
        (C), including whether or not the complaint was resolved and, if 
        resolved, whether the employee concerned sought review of the 
        resolution by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or by 
        Federal court.
            (E) The number of employment discrimination complaints that 
        were settled during such period, including--
                    (i) the type of such complaints; and
                    (ii) the terms of settlement (including any 
                settlement amount) of each such complaint.

     <<NOTE: 38 USC 516 note.>> (c) Effective Date.--Section 516 of 
title 38, United States Code, as added by subsection (a), shall take 
effect 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act. Subsection (e) 
of that section shall take effect with respect to the first quarter of 
calendar year 1998.

SEC. 102. DISCRIMINATION COMPLAINT ADJUDICATION AUTHORITY.

    (a) In General.--(1) Chapter 3 is amended by adding at the end the 
following new section:
``Sec. 319. Office of Employment Discrimination Complaint 
                  Adjudication

    ``(a)(1) There is in the Department an Office of Employment 
Discrimination Complaint Adjudication. There is at the head of the 
Office a Director.
    ``(2) The Director shall be a career appointee in the Senior 
Executive Service.
    ``(3) The Director reports directly to the Secretary or the Deputy 
Secretary concerning matters within the responsibility of the Office.
    ``(b)(1) The Director is responsible for making the final agency 
decision within the Department on the merits of any employment 
discrimination complaint filed by an employee, or an applicant for 
employment, with the Department. The Director shall make such decisions 
in an impartial and objective manner.
    ``(2) No person may make any ex parte communication to the Director 
or to any employee of the Office with respect to a matter on which the 
Director has responsibility for making a final agency decision.

[[Page 111 STAT. 2281]]

    ``(c) Whenever the Director has reason to believe that there has 
been retaliation against an employee by reason of the employee asserting 
rights under an equal employment opportunity law, the Director shall 
report the suspected retaliatory action directly to the Secretary or 
Deputy Secretary, who shall take appropriate action thereon.
    ``(d)(1) The Office shall employ a sufficient number of attorneys 
and other personnel as are necessary to carry out the functions of the 
Office. Attorneys shall be compensated at a level commensurate with 
attorneys employed by the Office of the General Counsel.
    ``(2) The Secretary shall ensure that the Director is furnished 
sufficient resources in addition to personnel under paragraph (1) to 
enable the Director to carry out the functions of the Office in a timely 
manner.
    ``(3) The Secretary shall ensure that any performance appraisal of 
the Director of the Office of Employment Discrimination Complaint 
Adjudication or of any employee of the Office does not take into 
consideration the record of the Director or employee in deciding cases 
for or against the Department.''.
    (2) The table of sections at the beginning of such chapter is 
amended by adding at the end the following new item:

``319. Office of Employment Discrimination Complaint Adjudication.''.

     <<NOTE: 38 USC 319 note.>> (b) Reports on Implementation.--The 
Director of the Office of Employment Discrimination Complaint 
Adjudication of the Department of Veterans Affairs (established by 
section 319 of title 38, United States Code, as added by subsection (a)) 
shall submit to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and to Congress 
reports on the implementation and the operation of that office. The 
first such report shall be submitted not later than April 1, 1998, and 
subsequent reports shall be submitted not later than January 1, 1999, 
and January 1, 2000.

     <<NOTE: 38 USC 319 note.>> (c) Effective Date.--Section 319 of 
title 38, United States Code, as added by subsection (a), shall take 
effect 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act.
<<NOTE: 38 USC 516 note.>> SEC. 103. ASSESSMENT AND REVIEW OF 
                        DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS EMPLOYMENT 
                        DISCRIMINATION COMPLAINT RESOLUTION 
                        SYSTEM.

    (a) Agreement for Assessment and Review.--(1) The Secretary of 
Veterans Affairs shall seek to enter into an agreement with a qualified 
private entity under which agreement the entity shall carry out the 
assessment described in subsection (b) and the review described in 
subsection (c).
    (2) The Secretary shall include in the agreement provisions 
necessary to ensure that the entity carries out its responsibilities 
under the agreement (including the exercise of its judgments concerning 
the assessment and review) in a manner free of influence from any 
source, including the officials and employees of the Department of 
Veterans Affairs.
    (3) The Secretary may not enter into the agreement until 15 days 
after the date on which the Secretary notifies the Committees on 
Veterans' Affairs of the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
entity with which the Secretary proposes to enter into the agreement.
    (b) Initial Assessment of System.--(1) Under the agreement under 
subsection (a), the entity shall conduct an assessment of the employment 
discrimination complaint resolution system

[[Page 111 STAT. 2282]]

administered within the Department of Veterans Affairs, including the 
extent to which the system meets the objectives set forth in section 
516(a) of title 38, United States Code, as added by section 101. The 
assessment shall include a comprehensive description of the system as of 
the time of the assessment.
    (2) Under the agreement, the entity shall submit the assessment to 
the committees referred to in subsection (a)(3) and to the Secretary not 
later than June 1, 1998.
    (c) Review of Administration of System.--(1) Under the agreement 
under subsection (a), the entity shall monitor and review the 
administration by the Secretary of the employment discrimination 
complaint resolution system administered within the Department.
    (2) Under the agreement, the entity shall submit to the committees 
referred to in subsection (a)(3) and to the Secretary a report on the 
results of the review under paragraph (1) not later than June 1, 1999. 
The report shall include an assessment of the administration of the 
system, including the extent to which the system meets the objectives 
referred to in subsection (b)(1), and the effectiveness of the 
following:
            (A) Programs to train and maintain a cadre of individuals 
        who are competent to investigate claims relating to employment 
        discrimination.
            (B) Programs to train and maintain a cadre of individuals 
        who are competent to provide counseling to individuals who 
        submit such claims.
            (C) Programs to provide education and training to Department 
        employees regarding their rights and obligations under the equal 
        employment opportunity laws.
            (D) Programs to oversee the administration of the system.
            (E) Programs to evaluate the effectiveness of the system in 
        meeting its objectives.
            (F) Other programs, procedures, or activities of the 
        Department relating to the equal employment opportunity laws, 
        including any alternative dispute resolution procedures and 
        informal dispute resolution and settlement procedures.
            (G) Any disciplinary measures imposed by the Secretary on 
        employees determined to have violated the equal employment 
        opportunity laws in preventing or deterring violations of such 
        laws by other employees of the Department.

           TITLE II--EXTENSION AND IMPROVEMENT OF AUTHORITIES

SEC. 201. NATIVE AMERICAN VETERAN HOUSING LOAN PROGRAM.

    (a) Extension of Pilot Program.--Section 3761(c) is amended by 
striking out ``September 30, 1997'' and inserting in lieu thereof 
``December 31, 2001''.
    (b) Outreach.--Section 3762(i) is amended--
            (1) by inserting ``(1)'' after ``(i)'';
            (2) by inserting ``, in consultation with tribal 
        organizations (including the National Congress of American 
        Indians and the National American Indian Housing Council),'' 
        after ``The Secretary shall'';
            (3) by striking out ``tribal organizations and''; and
            (4) by adding at the end the following:

[[Page 111 STAT. 2283]]

    ``(2) Activities under the outreach program shall include the 
following:
            ``(A) Attending conferences and conventions conducted by the 
        National Congress of American Indians in order to work with the 
        National Congress in providing information and training to 
        tribal organizations and Native American veterans regarding the 
        availability of housing benefits under the pilot program and in 
        assisting such organizations and veterans in participating in 
        the pilot program.
            ``(B) Attending conferences and conventions conducted by the 
        National American Indian Housing Council in order to work with 
        the Housing Council in providing information and training to 
        tribal organizations and tribal housing entities regarding the 
        availability of such benefits.
            ``(C) Attending conferences and conventions conducted by the 
        Department of Hawaiian Homelands in order to work with the 
        Department of Hawaiian Homelands in providing information and 
        training to tribal housing entities in Hawaii regarding the 
        availability of such benefits.
            ``(D) Producing and disseminating information to tribal 
        governments, tribal veterans service organizations, and tribal 
        organizations regarding the availability of such benefits.
            ``(E) Assisting tribal organizations and Native American 
        veterans in participating in the pilot program.
            ``(F) Outstationing loan guarantee specialists in tribal 
        facilities on a part-time basis if requested by the tribal 
        government.''.

    (c) Annual Reports.--Section 3762 is further amended by adding at 
the end the following new subsection:
    ``(j) Not later than February 1 of each year through 2002, the 
Secretary shall transmit to the Committees on Veterans' Affairs of the 
Senate and House of Representatives a report relating to the 
implementation of the pilot program under this subchapter during the 
fiscal year preceding the date of the report. Each such report shall 
include the following:
            ``(1) The Secretary's exercise during such fiscal year of 
        the authority provided under subsection (c)(1)(B) to make loans 
        exceeding the maximum loan amount.
            ``(2) The appraisals performed for the Secretary during such 
        fiscal year under the authority of subsection (d)(2), including 
        a description of--
                    ``(A) the manner in which such appraisals were 
                performed;
                    ``(B) the qualifications of the appraisers who 
                performed such appraisals; and
                    ``(C) the actions taken by the Secretary with 
                respect to such appraisals to protect the interests of 
                veterans and the United States.
            ``(3) The outreach activities undertaken under subsection 
        (i) during such fiscal year, including--
                    ``(A) a description of such activities on a region-
                by-region basis; and
                    ``(B) an assessment of the effectiveness of such 
                activities in encouraging the participation of Native 
                American veterans in the pilot program.
            ``(4) The pool of Native American veterans who are eligible 
        for participation in the pilot program, including--

[[Page 111 STAT. 2284]]

                    ``(A) a description and analysis of the pool, 
                including income demographics;
                    ``(B) a description and assessment of the 
                impediments, if any, to full participation in the pilot 
                program of the Native American veterans in the pool; and
                    ``(C) the impact of low-cost housing programs 
                operated by the Department of Housing and Urban 
                Development and other Federal or State agencies on the 
                demand for direct loans under this section.
            ``(5) The Secretary's recommendations, if any, for 
        additional legislation regarding the pilot program.''.
SEC. 202. TREATMENT AND REHABILITATION FOR SERIOUSLY MENTALLY ILL 
                        AND HOMELESS VETERANS.

    (a) Codification and Revision of Programs.--Chapter 17 is amended by 
adding at the end the following new subchapter:

 ``SUBCHAPTER VII--TREATMENT AND REHABILITATION FOR SERIOUSLY MENTALLY 
                        ILL AND HOMELESS VETERANS

``Sec. 1771. General treatment

    ``(a) In providing care and services under section 1710 of this 
title to veterans suffering from serious mental illness, including 
veterans who are homeless, the Secretary may provide (directly or in 
conjunction with a governmental or other entity)--
            ``(1) outreach services;
            ``(2) care, treatment, and rehabilitative services (directly 
        or by contract in community-based treatment facilities, 
        including halfway houses); and
            ``(3) therapeutic transitional housing assistance under 
        section 1772 of this title, in conjunction with work therapy 
        under subsection (a) or (b) of section 1718 of this title and 
        outpatient care.

     <<NOTE: Expiration date.>> ``(b) The authority of the Secretary 
under subsection (a) expires on December 31, 2001.

``Sec. 1772. Therapeutic housing

    ``(a) The Secretary, in connection with the conduct of compensated 
work therapy programs, may operate residences and facilities as 
therapeutic housing.
    ``(b) The Secretary may use such procurement procedures for the 
purchase, lease, or other acquisition of residential housing for 
purposes of this section as the Secretary considers appropriate to 
expedite the opening and operation of transitional housing and to 
protect the interests of the United States.
    ``(c) A residence or other facility may be operated as transitional 
housing for veterans described in paragraphs (1) and (2) of section 
1710(a) of this title under the following conditions:
            ``(1) Only veterans described in those paragraphs and a 
        house manager may reside in the residence or facility.
            ``(2) Each resident, other than the house manager, shall be 
        required to make payments that contribute to covering the 
        expenses of board and the operational costs of the residence or 
        facility for the period of residence in such housing.
            ``(3) In order to foster the therapeutic and rehabilitative 
        objectives of such housing (A) residents shall be prohibited

[[Page 111 STAT. 2285]]

        from using alcohol or any controlled substance or item, (B) any 
        resident violating that prohibition may be expelled from the 
        residence or facility, and (C) each resident shall agree to 
        undergo drug testing or such other measures as the Secretary 
        shall prescribe to ensure compliance with that prohibition.
            ``(4) In the establishment and operation of housing under 
        this section, the Secretary shall consult with appropriate 
        representatives of the community in which the housing is 
        established and shall comply with zoning requirements, building 
        permit requirements, and other similar requirements applicable 
        to other real property used for similar purposes in the 
        community.
            ``(5) The residence or facility shall meet State and 
        community fire and safety requirements applicable to other real 
        property used for similar purposes in the community in which the 
        transitional housing is located, but fire and safety 
        requirements applicable to buildings of the Federal Government 
        shall not apply to such property.

    ``(d) The Secretary shall prescribe the qualifications for house 
managers for transitional housing units operated under this section. The 
Secretary may provide for free room and subsistence for a house manager 
in addition to, or instead of payment of, a fee for the services 
provided by the manager.
    ``(e)(1) The Secretary may operate as transitional housing under 
this section--
            ``(A) any suitable residential property acquired by the 
        Secretary as the result of a default on a loan made, guaranteed, 
        or insured under chapter 37 of this title;
            ``(B) any suitable space in a facility under the 
        jurisdiction of the Secretary that is no longer being used (i) 
        to provide acute hospital care, or (ii) as housing for medical 
        center employees; and
            ``(C) any other suitable residential property purchased, 
        leased, or otherwise acquired by the Secretary.

    ``(2) In the case of any property referred to in paragraph (1)(A), 
the Secretary shall--
            ``(A) transfer administrative jurisdiction over such 
        property within the Department from the Veterans Benefits 
        Administration to the Veterans Health Administration; and
            ``(B) transfer from the General Post Fund to the Loan 
        Guaranty Revolving Fund under chapter 37 of this title an amount 
        (not to exceed the amount the Secretary paid for the property) 
        representing the amount the Secretary considers could be 
        obtained by sale of such property to a nonprofit organization or 
        a State for use as a shelter for homeless veterans.

    ``(3) In the case of any residential property obtained by the 
Secretary from the Department of Housing and Urban Development under 
this section, the amount paid by the Secretary to that Department for 
that property may not exceed the amount that the Secretary of Housing 
and Urban Development would charge for the sale of that property to a 
nonprofit organization or a State for use as a shelter for homeless 
persons. Funds for such charge shall be derived from the General Post 
Fund.
    ``(f) The Secretary shall prescribe--
            ``(1) a procedure for establishing reasonable payment rates 
        for persons residing in transitional housing; and

[[Page 111 STAT. 2286]]

            ``(2) appropriate limits on the period for which such 
        persons may reside in transitional housing.

    ``(g) The Secretary may dispose of any property acquired for the 
purpose of this section. The proceeds of any such disposal shall be 
credited to the General Post Fund.
    ``(h) Funds received by the Department under this section shall be 
deposited in the General Post Fund. The Secretary may distribute out of 
the fund such amounts as necessary for the acquisition, management, 
maintenance, and disposition of real property for the purpose of 
carrying out such program. The Secretary shall manage the operation of 
this section so as to ensure that expenditures under this subsection for 
any fiscal year shall not exceed by more than $500,000 proceeds credited 
to the General Post Fund under this section. The operation of the 
program and funds received shall be separately accounted for, and shall 
be stated in the documents accompanying the President's budget for each 
fiscal year.

``Sec. 1773. Additional services at certain locations

    ``(a) Subject to the availability of appropriations, the Secretary 
shall operate a program under this section to expand and improve the 
provision of benefits and services by the Department to homeless 
veterans.
    ``(b) The program shall include the establishment of not fewer than 
eight programs (in addition to any existing programs providing similar 
services) at sites under the jurisdiction of the Secretary to be centers 
for the provision of comprehensive services to homeless veterans. The 
services to be provided at each site shall include a comprehensive and 
coordinated array of those specialized services which may be provided 
under existing law.
    ``(c) The program shall include the services of such employees of 
the Veterans Benefits Administration as the Secretary determines 
appropriate at sites under the jurisdiction of the Secretary at which 
services are provided to homeless veterans.
     <<NOTE: Termination date.>> ``(d) The program under this section 
shall terminate on December 31, 2001.

``Sec. 1774. Coordination with other agencies and organizations

    ``(a) In assisting homeless veterans, the Secretary shall coordinate 
with, and may provide services authorized under this title in 
conjunction with, State and local governments, other appropriate 
departments and agencies of the Federal Government, and nongovernmental 
organizations.
    ``(b)(1) The Secretary shall require the director of each medical 
center or the director of each regional benefits office to make an 
assessment of the needs of homeless veterans living within the area 
served by the medical center or regional office, as the case may be.
    ``(2) Each such assessment shall be made in coordination with 
representatives of State and local governments, other appropriate 
departments and agencies of the Federal Government, and nongovernmental 
organizations that have experience working with homeless persons in that 
area.
    ``(3) Each such assessment shall identify the needs of homeless 
veterans with respect to the following:
            ``(A) Health care.
            ``(B) Education and training.
            ``(C) Employment.

[[Page 111 STAT. 2287]]

            ``(D) Shelter.
            ``(E) Counseling.
            ``(F) Outreach services.

    ``(4) Each assessment shall also indicate the extent to which the 
needs referred to in paragraph (3) are being met adequately by the 
programs of the Department, of other departments and agencies of the 
Federal Government, of State and local governments, and of 
nongovernmental organizations.
    ``(5) Each assessment shall be carried out in accordance with 
uniform procedures and guidelines prescribed by the Secretary.
    ``(c) In furtherance of subsection (a), the Secretary shall require 
the director of each medical center and the director of each regional 
benefits office, in coordination with representatives of State and local 
governments, other Federal officials, and nongovernmental organizations 
that have experience working with homeless persons in the areas served 
by such facility or office, to--
            ``(1) develop a list of all public and private programs that 
        provide assistance to homeless persons or homeless veterans in 
        the area concerned, together with a description of the services 
        offered by those programs;
            ``(2) seek to encourage the development by the 
        representatives of such entities, in coordination with the 
        director, of a plan to coordinate among such public and private 
        programs the provision of services to homeless veterans;
            ``(3) take appropriate action to meet, to the maximum extent 
        practicable through existing programs and available resources, 
        the needs of homeless veterans that are identified in the 
        assessment conducted under subsection (b); and
            ``(4) attempt to inform homeless veterans whose needs the 
        director cannot meet under paragraph (3) of the services 
        available to such veterans within the area served by such center 
        or office.''.

    (b) Conforming Amendments.--(1) Section 1720A is amended--
            (A) by striking out subsections (a), (e), (f), and (g); and
            (B) by redesignating subsections (b), (c), and (d) as 
        subsections (a), (b), and (c), respectively.

    (2) The heading of such section is amended to read as follows:

``Sec. 1720A. Treatment and rehabilitative services for persons with 
                        drug or alcohol dependency''.

    (c) Conforming Repeals.--The following provisions are repealed:
            (1) Section 7 of Public Law 102-54 (38 U.S.C. 1718 note).
            (2) Section 107 of the Veterans' Medical Programs Amendments 
        of 1992 (38 U.S.C. 527 note).
            (3) Section 2 of the Homeless Veterans Comprehensive Service 
        Programs Act of 1992 (38 U.S.C. 7721 note).
            (4) Section 115 of the Veterans' Benefits and Services Act 
        of 1988 (38 U.S.C. 1712 note).

    (d) Clerical Amendments.--The table of sections at the beginning of 
chapter 17 is amended--
            (1) by striking out the item relating to section 1720A and 
        inserting in lieu thereof the following:

``1720A. Treatment and rehabilitative services for persons with drug or 
           alcohol dependency.''; and

            (2) by adding at the end the following:

[[Page 111 STAT. 2288]]

 ``subchapter vii--treatment and rehabilitation for seriously mentally 
                        ill and homeless veterans

``1771. General treatment.
``1772. Therapeutic housing.
``1773. Additional services at certain locations.
``1774. Coordination with other agencies and organizations.''.

SEC. 203. EXTENSION OF CERTAIN AUTHORITIES RELATING TO HOMELESS 
                        VETERANS.

    (a) Agreements for Housing Assistance for Homeless Veterans.--
Section 3735(c) is amended by striking out ``December 31, 1997'' and 
inserting in lieu thereof ``December 31, 1999''.
    (b) Extension of Homeless Veterans Comprehensive Service Grant 
Program.--Section 3(a)(2) of the Homeless Veterans Comprehensive Service 
Programs Act of 1992 (38 U.S.C. 7721 note) is amended by striking out 
``September 30, 1997'' and inserting in lieu thereof ``September 30, 
1999''.
    (c) Homeless Veterans' Reintegration Projects.--The Stewart B. 
McKinney Homeless Assistance Act is amended as follows:
            (1) Section 738(e)(1) (42 U.S.C. 11448(e)(1)) is amended by 
        adding at the end the following new subparagraph:
            ``(G) $10,000,000 for fiscal year 1999.''.
            (2) Section 741 (42 U.S.C. 11450) is amended by striking out 
        ``December 31, 1997'' and inserting in lieu thereof ``December 
        31, 1999''.

SEC. 204. ANNUAL REPORT ON ASSISTANCE TO HOMELESS VETERANS.

    Section 1001 of the Veterans' Benefits Improvements Act of 1994 (38 
U.S.C. 7721 note) is amended--
            (1) in subsection (a)(2)--
                    (A) by striking out ``and'' at the end of 
                subparagraph (B);
                    (B) by striking out the period at the end of 
                subparagraph (C) and inserting in lieu thereof ``; 
                and''; and
                    (C) by adding at the end the following new 
                subparagraphs:
            ``(D) evaluate the effectiveness of the programs of the 
        Department (including residential work-therapy programs, 
        programs combining outreach, community-based residential 
        treatment, and case-management, and contract care programs for 
        alcohol and drug-dependence or abuse disabilities) in providing 
        assistance to homeless veterans; and
            ``(E) evaluate the effectiveness of programs established by 
        recipients of grants under section 3 of the Homeless Veterans 
        Comprehensive Service Programs Act of 1992 (38 U.S.C. 7721 
        note), and describe the experience of such recipients in 
        applying for and receiving grants from the Secretary of Housing 
        and Urban Development to serve primarily homeless persons who 
        are veterans.''; and
            (2) by striking out subsection (b).
SEC. 205. EXPANSION OF AUTHORITY FOR ENHANCED-USE LEASES OF 
                        DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS REAL 
                        PROPERTY.

    (a) Four-Year Extension of Authority.--Section 8169 is amended by 
striking out ``December 31, 1997'' and inserting in lieu thereof 
``December 31, 2001''.
    (b) Repeal of Limitation on Number of Agreements.--(1) Section 8168 
is repealed.

[[Page 111 STAT. 2289]]

    (2) The table of sections at the beginning of chapter 81 is amended 
by striking out the item relating to section 8168.
SEC. 206. PERMANENT AUTHORITY TO FURNISH NONINSTITUTIONAL 
                        ALTERNATIVES TO NURSING HOME CARE.

    (a) Permanent Authority.--Subsection (a) of section 1720C is amended 
by striking out ``During'' and all that follows through ``furnishing 
of'' and inserting in lieu thereof ``The Secretary may furnish''.
    (b) Conforming Amendments.--(1) Subsections (b)(1) and (d) of such 
section are amended by striking out ``pilot''.
    (2) The heading for such section is amended to read as follows:

``Sec. 1720C. Noninstitutional alternatives to nursing home care''.

    (3) The item relating to such section in the table of sections at 
the beginning of chapter 17 is amended to read as follows:

``1720C. Noninstitutional alternatives to nursing home care.''.

SEC. 207. EXTENSION OF HEALTH PROFESSIONAL SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM.

    (a) Extension.--Section 7618 is amended by striking out ``December 
31, 1997'' and inserting in lieu thereof ``December 31, 1998''.
     <<NOTE: 38 USC 7611 note.>> (b) Submission of Overdue Report.--The 
Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall submit to Congress not later than 
180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act the report 
evaluating the operation of the health professional scholarship program 
required to be submitted not later than March 31, 1997, under section 
202(b) of Public Law 104-110 (110 Stat. 770).

SEC. 208. POLICY ON BREAST CANCER MAMMOGRAPHY.

    (a) In General.--(1) Subchapter II of chapter 73 is amended by 
adding at the end the following new section:

``Sec. 7322. Breast cancer mammography policy

    ``(a) The Under Secretary for Health shall develop a national policy 
for the Veterans Health Administration on mammography screening for 
veterans.
    ``(b) The policy developed under subsection (a) shall--
            ``(1) specify standards of mammography screening;
            ``(2) provide recommendations with respect to screening, and 
        the frequency of screening, for--
                    ``(A) women veterans who are over the age of 39; and
                    ``(B) veterans, without regard to age, who have 
                clinical symptoms, risk factors, or family history of 
                breast cancer; and
            ``(3) provide for clinician discretion.''.

    (2) The table of sections at the beginning of such chapter is 
amended by inserting after the item relating to section 7321 the 
following new item:

``7322. Breast cancer mammography policy.''.

     <<NOTE: 38 USC 7322 note.>> (b) Effective Date.--The Secretary of 
Veterans Affairs shall develop the national policy on mammography 
screening required

[[Page 111 STAT. 2290]]

by section 7322 of title 38, United States Code, as added by subsection 
(a), and shall furnish such policy in a report to the Committees on 
Veterans' Affairs of the Senate and House of Representatives, not later 
than 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act. Such policy 
shall not take effect before the expiration of 30 days after the date of 
its submission to those committees.

     <<NOTE: 38 USC 7322 note.>> (c) Sense of Congress.--It is the sense 
of Congress that the policy developed under section 7322 of title 38, 
United States Code, as added by subsection (a), shall be in accordance 
with the guidelines endorsed by the Secretary of Health and Human 
Services and the Director of the National Institutes of Health.

SEC. 209. PERSIAN GULF WAR VETERANS.

    (a) Criteria for Priority Health Care.--(1) Subsection (a)(2)(F) of 
section 1710 is amended by striking out ``environmental hazard'' and 
inserting in lieu thereof ``other conditions''.
    (2) Subsection (e)(1)(C) of such section is amended--
            (A) by striking out ``the Secretary finds may have been 
        exposed while serving'' and inserting in lieu thereof 
        ``served'';
            (B) by striking out ``to a toxic substance or environmental 
        hazard''; and
            (C) by striking out ``exposure'' and inserting in lieu 
        thereof ``service''.

    (3) Subsection (e)(2)(B) of such section is amended by striking out 
``an exposure'' and inserting in lieu thereof ``the service''.
     <<NOTE: 38 USC 1710 note.>> (b) Demonstration Projects for 
Treatment of Persian Gulf Illness.--(1) The Secretary of Veterans 
Affairs shall carry out a program of demonstration projects to test new 
approaches to treating, and improving the satisfaction with such 
treatment of, Persian Gulf veterans who suffer from undiagnosed and ill-
defined disabilities. The program shall be established not later than 
July 1, 1998, and shall be carried out at up to 10 geographically 
dispersed medical centers of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

    (2) At least one of each of the following models shall be used at no 
less than two of the demonstration projects:
            (A) A specialized clinic which serves Persian Gulf veterans.
            (B) Multidisciplinary treatment aimed at managing symptoms.
            (C) Use of case managers.

    (3) A demonstration project under this subsection may be undertaken 
in conjunction with another funding entity, including agreements under 
section 8111 of title 38, United States Code.
    (4) The Secretary shall make available from appropriated funds 
(which have been retained for contingent funding) $5,000,000 to carry 
out the demonstration projects.
    (5) The Secretary may not approve a medical center as a location for 
a demonstration project under this subsection unless a peer review panel 
has determined that the proposal submitted by that medical center is 
among those proposals that have met the highest competitive standards of 
clinical merit and the Secretary has determined that the facility has 
the ability to--
            (A) attract the participation of clinicians of outstanding 
        caliber and innovation to the project; and
            (B) effectively evaluate the activities of the project.

    (6) In determining which medical centers to select as locations for 
demonstration projects under this subsection, the Secretary shall give 
special priority to medical centers that have demonstrated

[[Page 111 STAT. 2291]]

a capability to compete successfully for extramural funding support for 
research into the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the care 
provided under the demonstration project.
SEC. 210. PRESIDENTIAL REPORT ON PREPARATIONS FOR A NATIONAL 
                        RESPONSE TO MEDICAL EMERGENCIES ARISING 
                        FROM THE TERRORIST USE OF WEAPONS OF MASS 
                        DESTRUCTION.

    (a) Report.--(1) Not later than March 1, 1998, the President shall 
submit to Congress a report on the plans, preparations, and capability 
of the Federal Government and State and local governments for a national 
response to medical emergencies arising from the terrorist use of 
weapons of mass destruction. The report shall be submitted in 
unclassified form, but may include a classified annex.
    (2) The report should be prepared in consultation with the Secretary 
of Defense, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Secretary of 
Veterans Affairs, the Director of the Federal Emergency Management 
Agency, and the head of any other department or agency of the Federal 
Government that may be involved in responding to such emergencies. The 
President shall designate a lead agency for purposes of the preparation 
of the report.
    (b) Contents.--The report shall include the following:
            (1) A description of the steps taken by the Federal 
        Government to plan and prepare for a national response to 
        medical emergencies arising from the terrorist use of weapons of 
        mass destruction.
            (2) A description of the laws and agreements governing the 
        responsibilities of the various departments and agencies of the 
        Federal Government, and of State and local governments, for the 
        response to such emergencies, and an assessment of the 
        interrelationship of such responsibilities under such laws and 
        agreements.
            (3) Recommendations, if any, for the simplification or 
        improvement of such responsibilities.
            (4) An assessment of the current level of preparedness for 
        such response of all departments and agencies of the Federal 
        Government and State and local governments that are responsible 
        for such response.
            (5) A current inventory of the existing medical assets from 
        all sources which can be made available for such response.
            (6) Recommendations, if any, for the improved or enhanced 
        use of the resources of the Federal Government and State and 
        local governments for such response.
            (7) The name of the official or office of the Federal 
        Government designated to coordinate the response of the Federal 
        Government to such emergencies.
            (8) A description of the lines of authority between the 
        departments and agencies of the Federal Government to be 
        involved in the response of the Federal Government to such 
        emergencies.
            (9) A description of the roles of each department and agency 
        of the Federal Government to be involved in the preparations 
        for, and implementation of, the response of the Federal 
        Government to such emergencies.

[[Page 111 STAT. 2292]]

            (10) The estimated costs of each department and agency of 
        the Federal Government to prepare for and carry out its role as 
        described under paragraph (9).
            (11) A description of the steps, if any, being taken to 
        create a funding mechanism for the response of the Federal 
        Government to such emergencies.

  TITLE III--MAJOR MEDICAL FACILITY PROJECTS CONSTRUCTION AUTHORIZATION

SEC. 301. AUTHORIZATION OF MAJOR MEDICAL FACILITY PROJECTS.

    The Secretary of Veterans Affairs may carry out the following major 
medical facility projects, with each project to be carried out in the 
amount specified for that project:
            (1) Seismic corrections at the Department of Veterans 
        Affairs medical center in Memphis, Tennessee, in an amount not 
        to exceed $34,600,000.
            (2) Seismic corrections and clinical and other improvements 
        to the McClellan Hospital at Mather Field, Sacramento, 
        California, in an amount not to exceed $48,000,000, to be 
        derived only from funds appropriated for Construction, Major 
        Projects, for a fiscal year before fiscal year 1998 that remain 
        available for obligation.
            (3) Outpatient improvements at Mare Island, Vallejo, 
        California, and Martinez, California, in a total amount not to 
        exceed $7,000,000, to be derived only from funds appropriated 
        for Construction, Major Projects, for a fiscal year before 
        fiscal year 1998 that remain available for obligation.

SEC. 302. AUTHORIZATION OF MAJOR MEDICAL FACILITY LEASES.

    The Secretary of Veterans Affairs may enter into leases for medical 
facilities as follows:
            (1) Lease of an information management field office, 
        Birmingham, Alabama, in an amount not to exceed $595,000.
            (2) Lease of a satellite outpatient clinic, Jacksonville, 
        Florida, in an amount not to exceed $3,095,000.
            (3) Lease of a satellite outpatient clinic, Boston, 
        Massachusetts, in an amount not to exceed $5,215,000.
            (4) Lease of a satellite outpatient clinic, Canton, Ohio, in 
        an amount not to exceed $2,115,000.
            (5) Lease of a satellite outpatient clinic, Portland, 
        Oregon, in an amount not to exceed $1,919,000.
            (6) Lease of a satellite outpatient clinic, Tulsa, Oklahoma, 
        in an amount not to exceed $2,112,000.
            (7) Lease of an information resources management field 
        office, Salt Lake City, in an amount not to exceed $652,000.

SEC. 303. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.

    (a) In General.--There are authorized to be appropriated to the 
Secretary of Veterans Affairs for fiscal year 1998--
            (1) for the Construction, Major Projects, account, 
        $34,600,000 for the project authorized in section 301(1); and
            (2) for the Medical Care account, $15,703,000 for the leases 
        authorized in section 302.

[[Page 111 STAT. 2293]]

    (b) Limitation.--The projects authorized in section 301 may only be 
carried out using--
            (1) funds appropriated for fiscal year 1998 pursuant to the 
        authorization of appropriations in subsection (a);
            (2) funds appropriated for Construction, Major Projects for 
        a fiscal year before fiscal year 1998 that remain available for 
        obligation; and
            (3) funds appropriated for Construction, Major Projects for 
        fiscal year 1998 for a category of activity not specific to a 
        project.

              TITLE IV--TECHNICAL AND CLARIFYING AMENDMENTS

SEC. 401. TECHNICAL AMENDMENTS.

    (a) Plot Allowance for Deaths in Department Facilities.--Section 
2303(a)(2)(A) is amended by striking out ``a Department facility (as 
defined in section 1701(4) of this title)'' and inserting in lieu 
thereof ``a facility of the Department (as defined in section 1701(3) of 
this title)''.
    (b) Educational Assistance Allowance for Certain Individuals 
Pursuing Cooperative Programs.--Section 3015(e)(1) is amended--
            (1) by striking out ``(1) Subject to paragraph (2)'' and 
        inserting in lieu thereof ``(1)(A) Except as provided in 
        subparagraph (B) of this paragraph and subject to paragraph 
        (2)''; and
            (2) by adding at the end the following:

    ``(B) Notwithstanding subparagraph (A) of this paragraph, in the 
case of an individual described in that subparagraph who is pursuing a 
cooperative program on or after October 9, 1996, the rate of the basic 
educational assistance allowance applicable to such individual under 
this chapter shall be increased by the amount equal to one-half of the 
educational assistance allowance that would be applicable to such 
individual for pursuit of full-time institutional training under chapter 
34 (as of the time the assistance under this chapter is provided and 
based on the rates in effect on December 31, 1989) if such chapter were 
in effect.''.
    (c) Eligibility of Certain VEAP Participants To Enroll in Montgomery 
GI Bill.--Section 3018C(a) is amended--
            (1) in paragraph (1), by striking out ``the date of the 
        enactment of the Veterans' Benefits Improvements Act of 1996'' 
        and inserting in lieu thereof ``October 9, 1996,'';
            (2) in paragraph (4), by striking out ``during the one-year 
        period specified'' and inserting in lieu thereof ``after the 
        date on which the individual makes the election described''; and
            (3) in paragraph (5), by striking out ``the date of the 
        enactment of the Veterans' Benefits Improvements Act of 1996'' 
        and inserting in lieu thereof ``October 9, 1996''.

    (d) Enrollment in Open Circuit Television Courses.--Section 
3680A(a)(4) is amended by inserting ``(including open circuit 
television)'' after ``independent study program'' the second place it 
appears.
    (e) Enrollment in Certain Courses.--Section 3680A(g) is amended by 
striking out ``subsections (e) and (f)'' and inserting in lieu thereof 
``subsections (e) and (f)(1)''.

[[Page 111 STAT. 2294]]

    (f) Certain Benefits for Surviving Spouses.--Section 5310(b)(2) is 
amended by striking out ``under this paragraph'' in the first sentence 
and inserting in lieu thereof ``under paragraph (1)''.

SEC. 402. CLARIFICATION OF CERTAIN HEALTH CARE AUTHORITIES.

    (a) Eligibility for Hospital Care and Medical Services.--Section 
1710(a)(2)(B) is amended by striking out ``compensable''.
    (b) Home Health Services.--Section 1717(a) is amended--
            (1) in paragraph (1), by striking out ``veteran's 
        disability'' and inserting in lieu thereof ``veteran''; and
            (2) in paragraph (2)(B), by striking out ``section 
        1710(a)(2)'' and inserting in lieu thereof ``section 1710(a)''.

    (c) Authority To Transfer Veterans Receiving Outpatient Care to Non-
Department Nursing Homes.--Section 1720(a)(1)(A)(i) is amended by 
striking out ``hospital care, nursing home care, or domiciliary care'' 
and inserting in lieu thereof ``care''.
    (d) Acquisition of Commercial Health Care Resources.--Section 
8153(a)(3)(A) is amended by inserting ``(including any Executive order, 
circular, or other administrative policy)'' after ``law or regulation''.
    (e) Competition in Procurement of Commercial Health Care 
Resources.--Section 8153(a)(3)(B)(ii) is amended in the second sentence 
by inserting ``, as appropriate,'' after ``all responsible sources''.

SEC. 403. CORRECTION OF NAME OF MEDICAL CENTER.

    The facility of the Department of Veterans Affairs in Columbia, 
South Carolina, known as the Wm. Jennings Bryan Dorn Veterans' Hospital 
shall hereafter be known and designated as the ``Wm. Jennings Bryan Dorn 
Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center''. Any reference to that 
facility in any law, regulation, document, map, record, or other paper 
of the United States shall be deemed to be a reference to the Wm. 
Jennings Bryan Dorn Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
SEC. 404. IMPROVEMENT TO SPINA BIFIDA BENEFITS FOR CHILDREN OF 
                        VIETNAM VETERANS.

    (a) Definitions.--The text of section 1801 is amended to read as 
follows:
    ``For the purposes of this chapter--
            ``(1) The term `child', with respect to a Vietnam veteran, 
        means a natural child of a Vietnam veteran, regardless of age or 
        marital status, who was conceived after the date on which the 
        Vietnam veteran first entered the Republic of Vietnam during the 
        period beginning on January 9, 1962, and ending on May 7, 1975.
            ``(2) The term `Vietnam veteran' means an individual who 
        performed active military, naval, or air service in the Republic 
        of Vietnam during the period beginning on January 9, 1962, and 
        ending on May 7, 1975, without regard to the characterization of 
        the individual's service.''.

    (b) Applicability of Certain Administrative Provisions.--(1) Section 
1806 is amended to read as follows:

``Sec. 1806. Applicability of certain administrative provisions

    ``The provisions of sections 5101(c), 5110(a), (b)(2), (g), and (i), 
5111, and 5112(a), (b)(1), (b)(6), (b)(9), and (b)(10) of this title

[[Page 111 STAT. 2295]]

shall be deemed to apply to benefits under this chapter in the same 
manner in which they apply to veterans' disability compensation.''.
    (2) The item relating to section 1806 in the table of sections at 
the beginning of chapter 18 is amended to read as follows:

``1806. Applicability of certain administrative provisions.''.

    (c) Amendments to Vocational Rehabilitation Provisions.--Section 
1804 is amended--
            (1) in subsection (b), by striking out ``shall be designed'' 
        and all that follows and inserting in lieu thereof the 
        following: ``shall--
            ``(1) be designed in consultation with the child in order to 
        meet the child's individual needs;
            ``(2) be set forth in an individualized written plan of 
        vocational rehabilitation; and
            ``(3) be designed and developed before the date specified in 
        subsection (d)(3) so as to permit the beginning of the program 
        as of the date specified in that subsection.'';
            (2) in subsection (c)(1)(B), by striking out ``institution 
        of higher education'' and inserting in lieu thereof 
        ``institution of higher learning''; and
            (3) by adding at the end of subsection (d) the following new 
        paragraph:

    ``(3) A vocational training program under this section may begin on 
the child's 18th birthday, or on the successful completion of the 
child's secondary schooling, whichever first occurs, except that, if the 
child is above the age of compulsory school attendance under applicable 
State law and the Secretary determines that the child's best interests 
will be served thereby, the vocational training program may begin before 
the child's 18th birthday.''.
     <<NOTE: 38 USC 1801 note.>> (d) Effective Date.--The amendments 
made by this section shall take effect as of October 1, 1997.

    Approved November 21, 1997.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY--S. 714:
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

SENATE REPORTS: No. 105-123 (Comm. on Veterans' Affairs).
CONGRESSIONAL RECORD, Vol. 143 (1997):
            Nov. 5, considered and passed Senate.
            Nov. 9, considered and passed House, amended.
            Nov. 10, Senate concurred in House amendments.

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