LI Congressional Delegation Unites on Vets Bill

Mar 10, 2016

From left, veterans advocate Kris Goldsmith, with U.S. House of Representatives Kathleen Rice, Lee Zeldin, Peter King and Steve Israel. This is the first piece of legislation to receive unanimous backing from all four Long Island representatives.
Credit Terry Sheridan / WSHU

Long Island’s four members of Congress are lining up behind the Fair Veterans Act, which would help veterans who were less-than-honorably discharged due to undiagnosed Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). 

Representatives Steve Israel, Peter King, Kathleen Rice and Lee Zeldin said at a press conference on Wednesday that this is the first time that the two Democrats and two Republicans  have stood together publicly on an issue.

Zeldin, a veteran himself, said the Fair Veterans Act would remove a “Catch 22” that vets who received general or dishonorable discharges and also suffer from PTSD face.

“When a veteran is discharged with a less-than-honorable discharge, and they come home and they have PTSD, imagine the reality today that they can’t even go to the VA hospital in Northport and be diagnosed, let alone receive treatment,” he said.

That’s because they lose their veterans benefits.

The Act would make permanent the order signed by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to give the “benefit of the doubt” to vets, by putting the burden of proof on the Defense Department that PTSD did not cause the behavior that led to the discharges.

About 22,000 combat veterans have been less-than-honorably discharged since 2009.