Summary: H.R.1716 — 108th Congress (2003-2004)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Reported to House amended, Part I (06/25/2004)

Veterans Earn and Learn Act of 2004 - Title I: Education Matters - (Sec. 102) Charges the Montgomery GI Bill veterans' educational assistance entitlement for each month that an eligible veteran is paid a job training assistance allowance through the Department of Veterans Affairs. Increases such charge for any month in which the veteran fails to complete 120 hours of such training.

(Sec. 103) Directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (Secretary) to pay a lump-sum incentive payment to an individual who successfully completes a full-time program of job apprenticeship under the Montgomery GI Bill program before his or her assistance allowance is exhausted, including under the educational assistance programs for: (1) the post-Vietnam era; (2) survivors and dependents; and (3) the Selected Reserve.

(Sec. 104) Increases the assistance payable under such educational assistance programs for each month in which an individual pursuing a full-time program of apprenticeship or other on-job training is also enrolled in a course of classroom instruction related to such training: (1) from 75 to 85 percent of the institutional rate, for the first six months of such instruction; (2) from 55 to 65 percent, for the second six months; and (3) from 35 to 45 percent, for the third six months.

(Sec. 105) Allows an apprenticeship to be determined upon a specific period of time (time-based program) or upon the successful mastery of a skill (competency-based program). Directs State approving agencies, when determining the period of a competency-based program, to consider the approximate program term recommended in registered apprenticeship program standards recognized by the Secretary of Labor. Requires: (1) the Secretary of Labor to notify the Secretary upon the successful completion of an apprenticeship program by a veteran or other eligible person; and (2) the sponsor of a job training program to also provide such notification. Provides funding for FY 2005 for computer system modifications necessitated by the above amendments.

(Sec. 106) Directs the Secretary to conduct a five-year pilot program for training Department employees to become qualified adjudicators of claims for veterans' compensation, dependency and indemnity compensation, and pensions. Requires initial and final program reports from the Secretary to Congress.

(Sec. 107) Requires the Secretary of Defense to furnish to the Secretary, at the time of a member's discharge, pertinent information concerning each registered apprenticeship pursued by such member during his or her service.

Title II: Benefits and Employment Matters - (Sec. 201) Presumes the following cancers to be service-connected, and therefore compensable under veterans' disability compensation, in the case of veterans exposed to ionizing radiation: bone, brain, colon, lung, and ovarian. Qualifies as a "radiation risk activity," for purposes of veterans' benefits, service which, if performed by a Department of Energy employee, would qualify for inclusion as a member of the Special Exposure Cohort under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act of 2000.

(Sec. 202) States that a radiation-exposed veteran who receives payment under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act of 1990 shall not be deprived of the payment of any veterans' disability compensation or dependency and indemnity compensation to which such person is entitled, but that there shall be deducted from such compensation the amount of any payment made under such Act.

(Sec. 203) Excludes life insurance proceeds from consideration as income for veterans' pension purposes.

(Sec. 204) Provides for the effective date of the award of veterans' death pension.

(Sec. 205) Treats a disability incurred through Department treatment or vocational rehabilitation as a service-connected disability for purposes of eligibility for veterans' benefits. Provides for an offset against veterans' benefits in the amount of any judgment, settlement, or compromise received as a result of such treatment or rehabilitation.

(Sec. 206) Requires the Secretary to enter into a contract with a qualified entity to study, and report to the Secretary on, the employment histories of recently separated servicemembers.

Title III: Housing Matters - (Sec. 301) Replaces the $60,000 maximum Department home loan guaranty to veterans for the construction or purchase of homes with an amount equal to 25 percent of the Freddie Mac conforming loan limit under the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation Act for a single-family residence, as adjusted for the year involved.

(Sec. 302) Authorizes the Secretary to provide specially adapted housing assistance for veterans whose disability is the result of the loss, or loss of use of, both upper arms at or above the elbow.

(Sec. 303) Authorizes the use of veteran volunteers in connection with the construction, alteration, and repair of multifamily transitional housing. Authorizes the leasing of space in areas of such housing for other commercial activities (currently only for neighborhood retail services and job training programs).

Title IV: Memorial Affairs Matters - (Sec. 401) Makes eligible for burial in Arlington National Cemetery: (1) a member or former member of a reserve component who was under 60 years of age and who, but for such age, would have been eligible for military retired pay; and (2) a member of a reserve component who dies in the line of duty while performing active duty for training or inactive duty training. Makes the dependents of such members also eligible for such burial.

(Sec. 402) Designates the memorial to former prisoners of war and members listed as missing in action that is under construction at Riverside National Cemetery, California, as a Prisoner of War/Missing in Action National Memorial.

Title V: Miscellaneous Matters - (Sec. 501) Makes the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims the head of such Court.