Sen. Jay Rockefeller says President Barrack Obama has signed into law a bipartisan bill that provides essential benefits to ensure that current service members and veterans get the support they deserve.
"Members of the military and veterans have time and time again put themselves in harm's way to protect this country and each and every one of us," said Rockefeller in a news release. "It's our responsibility to do the same for them when they return. This new law makes significant strides forward to protect veterans' health care, disability and other benefits. It also includes legislation that I have pushed for to make sure that service members' homes and families are protected while they are away on duty. Recent reports have shown that some military families have lost their homes while a spouse is on active duty. These actions are illegal, and this legislation extends current law protections against foreclosures until Dec. 31, 2014."
Specifically, the new law includes Rockefeller's provision to protect the men and women of the armed forces from losing their homes to banks and other lenders while they are deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan and across the globe.
Last summer, the Senate Commerce Committee, which Rockefeller chairs, held a forum on this issue where veterans and advocates told stories of problems under the current system, which has some protections for the military but not enough.
According to Rockefeller, a 2011 report showed that multiple mortgage servicing companies illegally foreclosed on service members and charged interest rates in excess of the maximum amounts allowed.
Rockefeller also convened a forum to examine illegal foreclosures against service members and their families.
The new law extends health care to veterans and their families who lived at Camp Lejeune and were exposed to contaminated water, expands vital veterans health programs, improves housing programs for veterans with disabilities, improves efforts to reduce homelessness among veterans and makes needed improvements to the disability claims system.
The legislation passed in the U.S. Senate by unanimous consent on July 18.