Representing North Florida and the Panhandle, Republican U.S. Rep. Neal Dunn (FL-02) and Democrat U.S. Rep. Al Lawson (FL-05) sponsored, between the two of them, over a half dozen separate bills in the last six months to help veterans.
On Nov. 9, Dunn introduced the “Supporting Veterans in STEM Careers Act,” a bill to expand veterans’ job and educational opportunities in the sciences.
On the same day, Lawson and Mike Bost (R-IL) introduced bipartisan legislation to make more United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) apprenticeships available to veterans. The “Veterans’ Agricultural Apprenticeship Act” instructs the USDA to work with state departments of agriculture to identify farmers and ranchers eligible for a direct loan to train apprentice veterans. The loan would, in turn, be paid back to the USDA after the harvest season.
Two days earlier, the House passed Dunn’s legislation to expand veterans’ access to organ transplants. The “Veterans Increased Choice for Transplanted Organs and Recovery (VICTOR) Act” gives veterans in need of an organ or bone marrow transplant through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare system the ability to seek care at a federally certified transplant center near their home.
Dunn also co- sponsored the “Veterans Affairs Physician Recruitment Act” with Republican U.S. Rep. John Rutherford (FL- 04), which creates scholarships recruiting medical students to work at VA facilities. In exchange for the scholarship, the student, upon graduation, works at a VA facility for at least two years. The bill also reforms the VA student loan repayment program benefits for medical students who will work for the VA.
Lawson teamed up with Rutherford in Oct. to co-sponsor the “Veterans Armed for Success Act,” which creates a grant matching program for the VA help organizations that help veterans enter the private sector through job training programs and other training.
“Too often, American veterans who have selflessly served our country, return home to little or no job prospects,” Lawson said. “The Veterans Armed for Success Act equips local organizations with the support they need to train our veterans, and their loved ones, as they transition from serving their country to pursing a professional career. I am proud to work beside my friend and colleague Rep. Rutherford on an issue that extends beyond partisan politics and works to create a better quality of life for all American veterans.”
Lawson also introduced in July, the “Veterans Jobs Opportunity Act,” which would establish a small business start-up tax credit for veterans creating businesses in underserved communities.
In Sept., Dunn introduced the “Veterans Opioid Abuse Prevention Act,” which directs the VA Secretary David Shulkin to connect VA doctors and health care providers to a national network of state-based prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) which track prescribing data for patients prescribed drugs like oxycodone, morphine and hydrocodone to relieve pain.
Dunn, a veteran himself who served as a U.S. Army surgeon for 11 years, said, “The work to honor and care for our veterans can never end, because our debt of gratitude can never fully be repaid.”