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                                                       Calendar No. 625
104th Congress                                                   Report
                                SENATE

 2d Session                                                     104-371
_______________________________________________________________________


 
              VETERANS' BENEFITS IMPROVEMENTS ACT OF 1996

                               __________

                              R E P O R T

                                 of the

                     COMMITTEE ON VETERANS' AFFAIRS
                          UNITED STATES SENATE

                              to accompany

                                S. 1711




  September 24 (legislative day, September 20), 1996.--Ordered to be 
                                printed


                     COMMITTEE ON VETERANS' AFFAIRS

ALAN K. SIMPSON, Wyoming, Chairman
JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER IV, West VirginiaSTROM THURMOND, South Carolina
BOB GRAHAM, Florida                  FRANK H. MURKOWSKI, Alaska
DANIEL K. AKAKA, Hawaii              ARLEN SPECTER, Pennsylvania
PAUL WELLSTONE, Minnesota            JAMES M. JEFFORDS, Vermont
PATTY MURRAY, Washington             BEN NIGHTHORSE CAMPBELL, Colorado
                                     LARRY E. CRAIG, Idaho
 Thomas E. Harvey, Chief Counsel/
          Staff Director
   Jim Gottlieb, Minority Chief 
      Counsel/Staff Director


                                CONTENTS

                              ----------                              
                                                                   Page
Committee bill...................................................     1
Introduction.....................................................    13
Committee meeting................................................    14
Summary of S. 1711 as reported...................................    14
Discussion:
    Title I--Commission on transition assistance:
        Section 101. Establishment of the Commission on Service 
          Members and Veterans Transition Assistance.............    18
        Section 102. Duties of the Commission....................    18
        Section 103. Powers of the Commission....................    19
    Title II--Life insurance programs:
        Section 202. Renaming of Servicemen's Group Life 
          Insurance..............................................    19
        Section 203. Merger of Retired Reservist Servicemembers' 
          Group Life Insurance and Veterans' Group Life Insurance 
          and extension of Veterans' Group Life Insurance to 
          members of the Ready Reserves..........................    20
        Section 204. Conversion of SGLI and VGLI policies to 
          commercial life insurance policies.....................    20
    Title III--Miscellaneous benefits provisions:
        Section 301. Expansion of period of Vietnam era for 
          certain veterans.......................................    20
        Section 302. Revision of authority relating to centers 
          for minority veterans and women veterans...............    21
        Section 303. Outer burial receptacles....................    22
        Section 304. Clarification of eligibility of minors for 
          burial in national cemeteries..........................    23
        Section 305. Extension of authority to treat alternative 
          teacher certification programs as educational 
          institutions for certain educational assistance 
          purposes...............................................    23
        Section 306. Direct loans to refinance loans under Native 
          American Veteran Housing Loan Pilot Program............    23
        Section 307. Clothing allowance for incarcerated veterans    24
        Section 308. Appointment of veterans service 
          organizations as claimants' representatives............    24
        Section 309. Provision of copies of Board of Veterans' 
          Appeals decisions......................................    25
        Section 310. Extension of certain authorities for 
          services for homeless veterans.........................    25
    Title IV--Employment and reemployment rights of members of 
      the uniformed services:
        Section 401. Purposes....................................    27
        Section 402. Definitions.................................    28
        Section 403. Discrimination against persons who serve in 
          the uniformed services and acts of reprisal prohibited.    28
        Section 404. Reemployment rights of persons who serve in 
          the uniformed services.................................    28
        Section 405. Reemployment positions......................    29
        Section 406. Leave.......................................    29
        Section 407. Health plans................................    30
        Section 408. Employee pension benefit plans..............    30
        Section 409. Enforcement of employment or reemployment 
          rights.................................................    30
        Section 410. Enforcement of rights with respect to a 
          State or private employer..............................    31
        Section 411. Enforcement of rights with respect to 
          Federal executive agencies.............................    31
        Section 412. Enforcement of rights with respect to 
          certain Federal agencies...............................    31
        Section 413. Conduct of investigation; subpoenas.........    31
        Section 414. Transition rules and effective dates........    32
Cost estimate....................................................    32
Regulatory impact statement......................................    36
Tabulation of votes cast in committee............................    36
Agency reports...................................................    36
Changes in existing law made by S. 1711 as reported..............    49


                                                       Calendar No. 625
104th Congress                                                   Report
                                 SENATE

 2d Session                                                     104-371
_______________________________________________________________________



              VETERANS' BENEFITS IMPROVEMENTS ACT OF 1996

                                _______
                                

   September 24 (legislative day, September 20), 1996--Ordered to be 
                                printed

_______________________________________________________________________


  Mr. Simpson, from the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, submitted the 
                               following

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 1711]

    The Committee on Veterans' Affairs, to which was referred 
the bill (S. 1711) to establish a Commission to evaluate the 
programs of the Federal Government that assist members of the 
Armed Forces and veterans in readjusting to civilian life, and 
for other purposes, having considered the same, reports 
favorably thereon with an amendment in the form of a substitute 
and an amendment to the title, and recommends that the bill as 
amended do pass.

                          Committee Amendments

    The amendments are as follows:
    Strike out all after the enacting clause as follows and 
insert in lieu thereof the following:

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE; TABLE OF CONTENTS.

    (a) Short Title.--This Act may be cited as the ``Veterans' Benefits 
Improvements Act of 1996''.
    (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--COMMISSION ON TRANSITION ASSISTANCE

Sec. 101. Establishment of commission.
Sec. 102. Duties of commission.
Sec. 103. Powers of commission.
Sec. 104. Miscellaneous administrative provisions.
Sec. 105. Commission personnel matters.
Sec. 106. Termination of commission.
Sec. 107. Definitions.
Sec. 108. Funding.

TITLE II--LIFE INSURANCE PROGRAMS

Sec. 201. Short title.
Sec. 202. Removal of gender references with respect to Servicemen's 
Group Life Insurance.
Sec. 203. Conversion of retired reservist Servicemembers' Group Life 
Insurance to Veterans' Group Life Insurance and extension of Veterans' 
Group Life Insurance to members of the Ready Reserves.
Sec. 204. Conversion of SGLI and VGLI to commercial life insurance.
Sec. 205. Technical amendment.

TITLE III--BENEFITS PROVISIONS

Sec. 301. Expansion of period of Vietnam era for certain veterans.
Sec. 302. Revision of authority relating to centers for minority 
veterans and women veterans.
Sec. 303. Outer burial receptacles.
Sec. 304. Clarification of eligibility of minors for burial in national 
cemeteries.
Sec. 305. Extension of authority to treat alternative teacher 
certification programs as educational institutions for certain 
educational assistance purposes
Sec. 306. Direct loans to refinance loans under Native American Veteran 
Housing Loan Pilot Program.
Sec. 307. Clothing allowance for incarcerated veterans.
Sec. 308. Appointment of veterans service organizations as claimants' 
representatives.
Sec. 309. Provision of copies of Board of Veterans' Appeals decisions.
Sec. 310. Extension of certain authorities for services for homeless 
veterans.

TITLE IV--EMPLOYMENT AND REEMPLOYMENT RIGHTS OF MEMBERS OF THE 
UNIFORMED SERVICES

Sec. 401. Purposes.
Sec. 402. Definitions.
Sec. 403. Discrimination against persons who serve in the uniformed 
services and acts of reprisal prohibited.
Sec. 404. Reemployment rights of persons who serve in the uniformed 
services.
Sec. 405. Reemployment positions.
Sec. 406. Leave.
Sec. 407. Health plans.
Sec. 408. Employee pension benefit plans.
Sec. 409. Enforcement of employment or reemployment rights.
Sec. 410. Enforcement of rights with respect to a State or private 
employer.
Sec. 411. Enforcement of rights with respect to Federal executive 
agencies.
Sec. 412. Enforcement of rights with respect to certain Federal 
agencies.
Sec. 413. Conduct of investigation; subpoenas.
Sec. 414. Transition rules and effective dates.
Sec. 415. Effective dates.

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 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--COMMISSION ON TRANSITION ASSISTANCE

SEC. 101. ESTABLISHMENT OF COMMISSION.

    (a) Establishment.--There is established a commission to be known 
as the Commission on Service Members and Veterans Transition Assistance 
(hereafter in this title referred to as the ``Commission'').
    (b) Membership.--(1) The Commission shall be composed of 12 members 
appointed from among private United States citizens with appropriate 
and diverse experiences, expertise, and historical perspectives on 
veterans, military, organizational, and management matters, of whom--
          (A) four shall be appointed by the Chairman of the Committee 
        on Veterans' Affairs of the Senate, in consultation with the 
        Ranking Member of that committee;
          (B) four shall be appointed by the Chairman of the Committee 
        on Veterans' Affairs of the House of Representatives, in 
        consultation with the Ranking Member of that committee;
          (C) two shall be appointed by the Chairman of the Committee 
        on Armed Services of the Senate, in consultation with the 
        Ranking Member of that committee; and
          (D) two shall be appointed by the Chairman of the Committee 
        on National Security of the House of Representatives, in 
        consultation with the Ranking Member of that committee.
    (2)(A) One member of the Commission appointed under each of 
subparagraphs (A) and (B) of paragraph (1) shall be a representative of 
a veterans service organization.
    (B) To the maximum extent practicable, the individuals appointed as 
members of the Commission shall be veterans.
    (C) Not more than seven of the members of the Commission may be 
members of the same political party.
    (3) The appointments of members of the Commission shall, to the 
maximum extent practicable, be made after consultation with 
representatives of veterans service organizations.
    (4) The appointments of the members of the Commission shall be made 
not later than 45 days after the date of enactment of this Act.
    (c) Period of Appointment; Vacancies.--Members shall be appointed 
for the life of the Commission. Any vacancy in the Commission shall not 
affect its powers, but shall be filled in the same manner as the 
original appointment.
    (d) Initial Meeting.--Not later than 30 days after the date on 
which all members of the Commission have been appointed, the Commission 
shall hold its first meeting.
    (e) Quorum.--A majority of the members of the Commission shall 
constitute a quorum, but a lesser number may hold hearings.
    (f) Chairman and Vice Chairman.--The Commission shall select a 
Chairman and Vice Chairman from among its members.
    (g) Meetings.--The Commission shall meet at the call of the 
Chairman of the Commission.
    (h) Panels.--The Commission may establish panels composed of less 
than the full membership of the Commission for the purpose of carrying 
out the Commission's duties. The actions of such panels shall be 
subject to the review and control of the Commission. Any findings and 
determinations made by such a panel shall not be considered the 
findings and determinations of the Commission unless approved by the 
Commission.
    (i) Authority of Individuals To Act for Commission.--Any member or 
agent of the Commission may, if authorized by the Commission, take any 
action which the Commission is authorized to take under this title.

SEC. 102. DUTIES OF COMMISSION.

    (a) In General.--The Commission shall--
          (1) review the efficacy and appropriateness of veterans 
        transition and assistance programs in providing assistance to 
        members of the Armed Forces in making the transition and 
        adjustment to civilian life upon their separation from the 
        Armed Forces and in providing assistance to veterans in making 
        the transition to, and adjusting to, civilian life;
          (2) review the allocation under law of responsibility for the 
        administration of veterans transition and assistance programs 
        among the various departments and agencies of the Federal 
        Government and determine the feasibility and desirability of 
        consolidating such administration in one such department or 
        agency;
          (3) evaluate proposals for improving such programs, including 
        proposals to consolidate, streamline, and enhance the provision 
        of such assistance and proposals for alternative means of 
        providing such assistance; and
          (4) make recommendations to Congress regarding means of 
        ensuring the continuing utility of such programs and assistance 
        and of otherwise improving such programs and the provision of 
        such assistance.
    (b) Review of Programs To Assist Members of the Armed Forces at 
Separation.--(1) While carrying out the general duties specified in 
subsection (a), the members of the Commission appointed under 
subparagraphs (C) and (D) of section 101(b)(1) shall review primarily 
the programs intended to assist members of the Armed Forces at the time 
of their separation from service in the Armed Forces, including 
programs designed to assist families of such members in preparing for 
the transition of such members from military life to civilian life and 
to facilitate that transition.
    (2) In carrying out the review, such members of the Commission 
shall determine--
          (A) the adequacy of the programs referred to in paragraph (1) 
        for their purposes;
          (B) the adequacy of the support of the Armed Forces for such 
        programs;
          (C) the effect, if any, of the existence of such programs on 
        military readiness;
          (D) the extent to which such programs provide members of the 
        Armed Forces with job-search skills;
          (E) the extent to which such programs prepare such members 
        for employment in the private sector and in the public sector;
          (F) the effectiveness of such programs in assisting such 
        members in finding employment in the public sector upon their 
        separation from service; and
          (G) the ways in which such programs could be improved in 
        order to assist such members in securing meaningful employment 
        in the private sector upon their separation from service.
    (c) Review of Programs To Assist Veterans.--(1) While carrying out 
the general duties specified in subsection (a), the members of the 
Commission appointed under subparagraphs (A) and (B) of section 
101(b)(1) shall--
          (A) review the adequacy of programs intended to assist 
        veterans (including disabled veterans, homeless veterans, and 
        economically disadvantaged veterans) in adjusting to civilian 
        life, including the programs referred to in paragraph (2); and
          (B) consider--
                  (i) whether the scope, focus, or content of such 
                programs should be changed as a result of the 
                conversion of the Armed Forces to an all-volunteer 
                force; and
                  (ii) whether responsibility for administration of 
                such programs should be transferred to a department or 
                agency other than the Department of Veterans Affairs as 
                a result of such conversion and, if so, the department 
                or agency to which the administration should be 
                transferred.
    (2) The programs referred to in paragraph (1)(A) are the following:
          (A) Educational assistance programs.
          (B) Job counseling, job training, and job placement services 
        programs.
          (C) Rehabilitation and training programs.
          (D) Housing loan programs.
          (E) Small business loan and small business assistance 
        programs.
          (F) Employment and employment training programs for 
        employment in the public sector and the private sector, 
        including employer training programs and union apprenticeship 
        programs.
          (G) Federal Government personnel policies (including 
        veterans' preference policies) and the enforcement of such 
        policies.
          (H) Programs that prepare the families of members of the 
        Armed Forces for their transition from military life to 
        civilian life and facilitate that transition.
    (d) Reports.--(1) Not later than 90 days after the date on which 
all members of the Commission have been appointed, the Commission shall 
submit to the Committees on Veterans' Affairs and Armed Services of the 
Senate and the Committees on Veterans' Affairs and National Security of 
the House of Representatives a report setting forth a plan for the work 
of the Commission. The Commission shall develop the plan in 
consultation with the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Veterans 
Affairs, and the heads of other appropriate departments and agencies of 
the Federal Government.
    (2)(A) Not later than one year after the date of the first meeting 
of the Commission, the Commission shall submit to the committees 
referred to in paragraph (1), and to the Secretary of Defense, the 
Secretary of Veterans Affairs, the Secretary of Labor, and the 
Secretary of Education, a report setting forth the activities, 
findings, and recommendations of the Commission, including any 
recommendations for legislative action and administrative action as the 
Commission considers appropriate.
    (B) Not later than 90 days after receiving the report referred to 
in subparagraph (A), the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of 
Veterans Affairs shall jointly transmit the report to Congress, 
together with the Secretaries' comments on the report.

SEC. 103. POWERS OF COMMISSION.

    (a) Hearings.--The Commission may hold such hearings, sit and act 
at such times and places, take such testimony, and receive such 
evidence as the Commission considers advisable to carry out the 
purposes of this title.
    (b) Information From Federal Agencies.--The Commission may secure 
directly from the Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans 
Affairs, and any other department or agency of the Federal Government 
such information as the Commission considers necessary to carry out its 
duties under this title. Upon request of the Chairman of the 
Commission, the head of such department or agency shall furnish such 
information expeditiously to the Commission.

SEC. 104. MISCELLANEOUS ADMINISTRATIVE PROVISIONS.

    (a) Postal Services.--The Commission may use the United States 
mails in the same manner and under the same conditions as other 
departments and agencies of the Federal Government.
    (b) Gifts.--The Commission may accept, use, and dispose of gifts or 
donations of services or property.
    (c) Miscellaneous Administrative Support.--The Secretary of Defense 
and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall, upon the request of the 
Chairman of the Commission, furnish the Commission, on a reimbursable 
basis, any administrative and support services as the Commission may 
require.

SEC. 105. COMMISSION PERSONNEL MATTERS.

    (a) Compensation of Members.--Each member of the Commission shall 
be compensated at a rate equal to the daily equivalent of the annual 
rate of basic pay prescribed for level IV of the Executive Schedule 
under section 5315 of title 5, United States Code, for each day 
(including travel time) during which such member is engaged in 
performing the duties of the Commission.
    (b) Travel and Travel Expenses.--(1) Members and personnel of the 
Commission may travel on military aircraft, military vehicles, or other 
military conveyances when travel is necessary in the performance of a 
duty of the Commission except when the cost of commercial 
transportation is less expensive.
    (2) The members of the Commission shall be allowed travel expenses, 
including per diem in lieu of subsistence, at rates authorized for 
employees of agencies under subchapter I of chapter 57 of title 5, 
United States Code, while away from their homes or regular places of 
business in the performance of services for the Commission.
    (c) Staff.--(1) The Chairman of the Commission may, without regard 
to civil service laws and regulations, appoint and terminate an 
executive director and such other additional personnel as may be 
necessary to enable the Commission to perform its duties. In appointing 
an individual as executive director, the Chairman shall, to the maximum 
extent practicable, attempt to appoint an individual who is a veteran. 
The employment of an executive director shall be subject to 
confirmation by the Commission.
    (2) The Chairman of the Commission may fix the compensation of the 
executive director and other personnel without regard to the provisions 
of chapter 51 and subchapter III of chapter 53 of title 5, United 
States Code, relating to classification of positions and General 
Schedule pay rates, except that the rate of pay for the executive 
director and other personnel may not exceed the rate payable for level 
V of the Executive Schedule under section 5316 of such title.
    (d) Detail of Government Employees.--Upon request of the Chairman 
of the Commission, the head of any department or agency of the Federal 
Government may detail, on a nonreimbursable basis, any personnel of the 
department or agency to the Commission to assist the Commission in 
carrying out its duties.
    (e) Procurement of Temporary and Intermittent Services.--The 
Chairman of the Commission may procure temporary and intermittent 
services under section 3109(b) of title 5, United States Code, at rates 
for individuals which do not exceed the daily equivalent of the annual 
rate of basic pay prescribed for level IV of the Executive Schedule 
under section 5316 of such title.

SEC. 106. TERMINATION OF COMMISSION.

    The Commission shall terminate 90 days after the date on which the 
Commission submits its report under section 102(d)(2).

SEC. 107. DEFINITIONS.

    For the purposes of this title--
          (1) The term ``veterans transition and assistance program'' 
        means any program of the Federal Government, including the 
        Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the 
        Department of Labor, and the Department of Education, the 
        purpose of which is--
                  (A) to assist, by rehabilitation or other means, 
                members of the Armed Forces in readjusting or otherwise 
                making the transition to civilian life upon their 
                separation from service in the Armed Forces; or
                  (B) to assist veterans in making the transition to 
                civilian life.
          (2) The term ``Armed Forces'' has the meaning given such term 
        in section 101(10) of title 38, United States Code.
          (3) The term ``veteran'' has the meaning given such term in 
        section 101(2) of title 38, United States Code.
          (4) The term ``veterans service organization'' means any 
        organization covered by section 5902(a) of title 38, United 
        States Code.

SEC. 108. FUNDING.

    (a) In General.--The Secretary of Defense shall, upon the request 
of the Chairman of the Commission, make available to the Commission 
such amounts as the Commission may require to carry out its duties 
under this title. The Secretary shall make such amounts available from 
amounts appropriated for the Department of Defense.
    (b) Availability.--Any sums made available to the Commission under 
subsection (a) shall remain available, without fiscal year limitation, 
until the termination of the Commission.

                   TITLE II--LIFE INSURANCE PROGRAMS

SEC. 201. SHORT TITLE.

    This title may be cited as the ``Veterans' Insurance Reform Act of 
1996''.

SEC. 202. REMOVAL OF GENDER REFERENCES WITH RESPECT TO SERVICEMEN--S 
                    GROUP LIFE INSURANCE.

    (a) In General.--The following provisions are amended by striking 
out ``Servicemen's Group Life Insurance'' each place it appears and 
inserting in lieu thereof ``Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance'':
          (1) Subsections (a), (c), and (e) of section 1967.
          (2) Subsections (a) through (d) of section 1969.
          (3) Subsections (a), (f), and (g) of section 1970.
          (4) Section 1971(b).
          (5) Section 1973.
          (6) The text of section 1974(a).
          (7) Subsections (a) (other than the third and fourth 
        sentences), (d), and (g) of section 1977.
          (8) Section 3017(a)(2)(A)(i).
          (9) Section 3224(1).
    (b) Conforming and Clerical Amendments.--(1) Section 1315(f)(1)(F) 
is amended by striking out ``servicemen's group life insurance'' and 
inserting in lieu thereof ``servicemembers' group life insurance''.
    (2)(A) The heading of subchapter III of chapter 19 is amended to 
read as follows:

       ``SUBCHAPTER III--SERVICEMEMBERS' GROUP LIFE INSURANCE''.

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

       ``Subchapter III--Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance''.

    (3)(A) The section head of section 1974 is amended to read as 
follows:

``Sec. 1974. Advisory Council on Servicemembers' Group Life 
                    Insurance''.

    (B) The item relating to such section in the table of sections at 
the beginning of chapter 19 is amended to read as follows:

``1974. Advisory Council on Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance.''.

    (d) References.--(1) Any reference to Servicemen's Group Life 
Insurance in any Federal law, Executive order, regulation, delegation 
of authority, or other document of the Federal Government shall be 
deemed to refer to Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance.
    (2) Any reference to the Advisory Council on Servicemen's Group 
Life Insurance in any Federal law, Executive order, regulation, 
delegation of authority, or other document of the Federal Government 
shall be deemed to refer to the Advisory Council on Servicemembers' 
Group Life Insurance.

SEC. 203. CONVERSION OF RETIRED RESERVIST SERVICEMEMBERS' GROUP LIFE 
                    INSURANCE TO VETERANS' GROUP LIFE INSURANCE AND 
                    EXTENSION OF VETERANS' GROUP LIFE INSURANCE TO 
                    MEMBERS OF THE READY RESERVES.

    (a) Definitions.--Section 1965(5) is amended--
          (1) by adding ``and'' at the end of subparagraph (B);
          (2) by striking out subparagraphs (C) and (D); and
          (3) by redesignating subparagraph (E) as subparagraph (C).
    (b) Persons Insured.--Section 1967 is amended--
          (1) in subsection (a)--
                  (A) by adding ``and'' at the end of paragraph (1);
                  (B) by striking out paragraphs (3) and (4); and
                  (C) in the full sentence in the matter following 
                paragraph (2), by striking out ``or the first day a 
                member of the Reserves, whether or not assigned to the 
                Retired Reserve of a uniformed service, meets the 
                qualifications of section 1965(5)(C) of this title, or 
                the first day a member of the Reserves meets the 
                qualifications of section 1965(5)(D) of this title,'';
          (2) by striking out subsection (d); and
          (3) by redesignating subsection (e) as subsection (d).
    (c) Duration and Termination of Coverage.--Section 1968(a) is 
amended--
          (1) by striking out ``subparagraph (B), (C), or (D) of 
        section 1965(5)'' in the matter preceding paragraph (1) and 
        inserting in lieu thereof ``section 1965(5)(B)'';
          (2) by striking out paragraph (4) and inserting in lieu 
        thereof the following new paragraph (4):
          ``(4) with respect to a member of the Ready Reserve of a 
        uniformed service who meets the qualifications set forth in 
        section 1965(5)(B) of this title, one hundred and twenty days 
        after separation or release from such assignment, unless on the 
        date of such separation or release the member is totally 
        disabled, under criteria established by the Secretary, in which 
        event the insurance shall cease one year after the date of 
        separation or release from such assignment, or on the date the 
        insured ceases to be totally disabled, whichever is the earlier 
        date, but in no event prior to the expiration of one hundred 
        and twenty days after separation or release from such 
        assignment.''; and
          (3) by striking out paragraphs (5) and (6).
    (d) Deductions.--Section 1969 is amended--
          (1) in subsection (a)(2), by striking out ``is assigned to 
        the Reserve (other than the Retired Reserve)'' and all that 
        follows through ``section 1965(5)(D) of this title,'';
          (2) by striking out subsection (e); and
          (3) by redesignating subsections (f) and (g) as subsections 
        (e) and (f), respectively.
    (e) Conversion of SGLI to VGLI.--The Servicemembers' Group Life 
Insurance of any member of the Retired Reserve of a uniformed service 
shall be converted to Veterans' Group Life Insurance effective 90 days 
after the date of enactment of this Act.

SEC. 204. CONVERSION OF SGLI AND VGLI TO COMMERCIAL LIFE INSURANCE.

    (a) Option To Convert SGLI.--Subsection (b) of section 1968 is 
amended to read as follows:
    ``(b)(1) Each policy purchased under this subchapter shall contain 
a provision, in terms approved by the Secretary, that, except as 
hereinafter provided, Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance which is 
continued in force after expiration of the period of duty or travel 
under section 1967(b) or 1968(a) of this title, effective the day after 
the date such insurance would cease, shall, at the election of the 
member or former member concerned--
          ``(A) be automatically converted to Veterans' Group Life 
        Insurance subject to (i) the timely payment of the initial 
        premium under terms prescribed by the Secretary, and (ii) the 
        terms and conditions set forth in section 1977 of this title; 
        or
          ``(B) be converted to an individual policy of insurance as 
        described in section 1977(e) of this title upon written 
        application for conversion made to the participating company 
        selected by the member and payment of the required premiums.
    ``(2) Automatic conversion under paragraph (1)(A) shall be 
effective only in the case of an otherwise eligible member or former 
member who is separated or released from a period of active duty or 
active duty for training or inactive duty training on or after the date 
on which the Veterans' Group Life Insurance program (provided for under 
section 1977 of this title) becomes effective.''.
    (b) Conversion of VGLI.--Section 1977 is amended--
          (1) in subsection (a), by striking out the fourth and fifth 
        sentences and inserting in lieu thereof the following sentence: 
        ``If any person insured under Veterans' Group Life Insurance 
        again becomes insured under Servicemembers' Group Life 
        Insurance but dies before terminating or converting such 
        person's Veterans' Group Life Insurance to Servicemembers' 
        Group Life Insurance, Veterans' Group Life Insurance will be 
        payable only if such person is insured for less than $200,000 
        under Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance, and then only in an 
        amount which when added to the amount of Servicemembers' Group 
        Life Insurance payable shall not exceed $200,000.''; and
          (2) in subsection (e), by striking out the third sentence and 
        inserting in lieu thereof the following new sentence: ``A 
        Veterans'' Group Life Insurance policy converted to an 
        individual policy under this subsection shall terminate on the 
        date before the date on which the individual policy becomes 
        effective.''.

SEC. 205. TECHNICAL AMENDMENT.

    Section 1977(a) is amended by striking out ``and (e)'' each place 
it appears in the first and second sentences.

                     TITLE III--BENEFITS PROVISIONS

SEC. 301. EXPANSION OF PERIOD OF VIETNAM ERA FOR CERTAIN VETERANS.

    (a) In General.--Section 101(29) of title 38, United States Code, 
is amended to read as follows:
          ``(29) The term Vietnam era means the following:
                  ``(A) The period beginning on February 28, 1961, and 
                ending on May 7, 1975, in the case of a veteran who 
                served in the Republic of Vietnam during such period.
                  ``(B) The period beginning on August 5, 1964, and 
                ending on May 7, 1975, in all other cases.''.
    (b) Limited Expansion for Specific Purposes.--(1)(A) Paragraphs 
(1)(B) and (3) of section 1116(a) of such title are each amended by 
striking out ``during the Vietnam era'' and inserting in lieu thereof 
``during the period beginning on January 9, 1962, and ending on May 7, 
1975,''.
    (B) Paragraphs (1)(A), (2)(C), (2)(E), (2)(F), and (4) of such 
section are each amended by striking out ``during the Vietnam era'' and 
inserting in lieu thereof ``during the period beginning on January 9, 
1962, and ending on May 7, 1975''.
    (2) Section 1710(e)(1)(A) of such title is amended--
          (A) in clause (i), by striking out ``during the Vietnam 
        era,'' and inserting in lieu thereof ``during the period 
        beginning on January 9, 1962, and ending on May 7, 1975,''; and
          (B) in clause (ii), by striking out ``such era'' and 
        inserting in lieu thereof ``such period''.
    (c) Effective Date.--The amendments made by this section shall take 
effect on January 1, 1997. No benefit may be paid or provided by reason 
of such amendments for any period before such date.

SEC. 302. REVISION OF AUTHORITY RELATING TO CENTERS FOR MINORITY 
                    VETERANS AND WOMEN VETERANS.

    (a) SES Status of Directors.--Sections 317(b) and 318(b) are each 
amended by inserting ``career or'' before ``noncareer''.
    (b) Additional Functions of Center for Minority Veterans.--Section 
317(d) is amended--
          (1) by redesignating paragraph (10) as paragraph (12); and
          (2) by inserting after paragraph (9) the following new 
        paragraphs (10) and (11):
          ``(10) Advise the Secretary and other appropriate officials 
        on the effectiveness of the Department's efforts to accomplish 
        the goals of section 492B of the Public Health Service Act (42 
        U.S.C. 289a-2) with respect to the inclusion of minorities in 
        clinical research and on particular health conditions affecting 
        the health of members of minority groups which should be 
        studied as part of the Department's medical research program 
        and promote cooperation between the Department and other 
        sponsors of medical research of potential benefit to veterans 
        who are minorities.
          ``(11) Provide support and administrative services to the 
        Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans provided for under 
        section 544 of this title.''.
    (c) Definition of Minority Veterans.--Section 317 is amended by 
adding at the end the following:
    ``(g) In this section--
          ``(1) The term ``veterans who are minorities'' means veterans 
        who are minority group members.
          ``(2) The term ``minority group member'' has the meaning 
        given such term in section 544(d) of this title.''.
    (d) Clarification of Functions of Center for Women Veterans.--
Section 318(d)(10) is amended by striking out ``(relating to'' and all 
that follows through ``and of'' and inserting in lieu thereof ``(42 
U.S.C. 289a-2) with respect to the inclusion of women in clinical 
research and on''.
    (e) Additional Functions of Advisory Committees.--(1) Section 
542(b) is amended by inserting ``, including the Center for Women 
Veterans'' before the period at the end.
    (2) Section 544(b) is amended by inserting ``, including the Center 
for Minority Veterans'' before the period at the end.
    (f) Termination Date of Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans.--
Section 544(e) is amended by striking out ``December 31, 1997'' and 
inserting in lieu thereof ``December 31, 1999''.

SEC. 303. OUTER BURIAL RECEPTACLES.

    (a) In General.--Subsection (d) of section 2306 is amended--
          (1) in paragraph (1), by striking out ``a grave liner'' each 
        place it appears and inserting in lieu thereof ``an outer 
        burial receptacle'';
          (2) in paragraph (2)--
                  (A) by striking out ``grave liners'' and inserting in 
                lieu thereof ``outer burial receptacles''; and
                  (B) by striking out ``specifications and procedures'' 
                and inserting in lieu thereof ``regulations or 
                procedures''; and
          (3) by adding at the end the following:
    ``(3) Regulations or procedures under paragraph (2) may specify 
that--
          ``(A) an outer burial receptacle other than a grave liner be 
        provided in lieu of a grave liner at the election of the 
        survivors of the interred veteran; and
          ``(B) if an outer burial receptacle other than a grave liner 
        is provided in lieu of a grave liner upon an election of such 
        survivors, such survivors be required--
                  ``(i) to pay the amount by which the cost of the 
                outer burial receptacle exceeds the cost of the grave 
                liner that would otherwise have been provided in the 
                absence of the election; and
                  ``(ii) to pay the amount of the administrative costs 
                incurred by the Secretary concerned in providing the 
                outer burial receptacle in lieu of such grave liner.
    ``(4) Regulations or procedures under paragraph (2) may provide for 
the use of a voucher system, or other system of reimbursement approved 
by the Secretary concerned, for payment for outer burial receptacles 
other than grave liners provided under such regulations or 
procedures.''.
    (b) Conforming Amendments.--(1) The section heading of such section 
is amended to read as follows:

``Sec. 2306. Headstones, markers, and burial receptacles''.

    (2) The table of sections at the beginning of chapter 23 is amended 
by striking out the item relating to section 2306 and inserting in lieu 
thereof the following new item:

``2306. Headstones, markers, and burial receptacles.''.

SEC. 304. CLARIFICATION OF ELIGIBILITY OF MINORS FOR BURIAL IN NATIONAL 
                    CEMETERIES.

    Section 2402(5) is amended by inserting after ``minor child'' the 
following: ``(which for purposes of this chapter includes a child under 
21 years of age, or under 23 years of age if pursuing a course of 
instruction at an approved educational institution)''.

SEC. 305. EXTENSION OF AUTHORITY TO TREAT ALTERNATIVE TEACHER 
                    CERTIFICATION PROGRAMS AS EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS 
                    FOR CERTAIN EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE PURPOSES.

    Section 3452(c) is amended in the second sentence by striking out 
``September 30, 1996'' and inserting in lieu thereof ``December 31, 
1998''.

SEC. 306. DIRECT LOANS TO REFINANCE LOANS UNDER NATIVE AMERICAN VETERAN 
                    HOUSING LOAN PILOT PROGRAM.

    (a) Authority.--Section 3762 is amended--
          (1) by redesignating subsection (h) as subsection (i); and
          (2) by inserting after subsection (g) the following new 
        subsection (h):
    ``(h)(1) The Secretary may make direct loans to Native American 
veterans in order to enable such veterans to refinance existing loans 
made under this section.
    ``(2)(A) The Secretary may not make a loan under this subsection 
unless the loan meets the requirements set forth in subparagraphs (B), 
(C), and (E) of paragraph (1) of section 3710(e) of this title.
    ``(B) The Secretary may not make a loan under this subsection 
unless the loan will bear an interest rate at least one percentage 
point less than the interest rate borne by the loan being refinanced.
    ``(C) Paragraphs (2) and (3) of such section 3710(e) shall apply to 
any loan made under this subsection, except that for the purposes of 
this subsection the reference to subsection (a)(8) of section 3710 of 
this title in such paragraphs (2) and (3) shall be deemed to be a 
reference to this subsection.''.
    (b) Loan Fee.--Section 3729(a)(2)(E) of such title is amended by 
striking out ``or 3712(a)(1)(F)'' and inserting in lieu thereof 
``3712(a)(1)(F), or 3762(h)''.

SEC. 307. CLOTHING ALLOWANCE FOR INCARCERATED VETERANS.

    (a) In General.--Chapter 53 is amended by inserting after section 
5313 the following new section:

``Sec. 5313A. Limitation on payment of clothing allowance to 
                    incarcerated veterans

    ``In the case of a veteran incarcerated in a Federal, State, or 
local penal institution for a period in excess of sixty days and 
furnished clothing without charge by the institution, the amount of any 
clothing allowance payable to the veteran under section 1162 of this 
title shall be reduced by an amount equal to 1/365th of the amount of 
the allowance otherwise payable under that section for each day during 
the 12-month period preceding the date of the payment of the allowance 
on which the veteran was so incarcerated.''.
    (b) Clerical Amendment.--The table of sections at the beginning of 
such chapter is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 
5313 the following new item:

``5313A. Limitation on payment of clothing allowance to incarcerated 
veterans.''.

SEC. 308. APPOINTMENT OF VETERANS SERVICE ORGANIZATIONS AS CLAIMANTS' 
                    REPRESENTATIVES.

    (a) Power of Attorney Naming a Veterans Service Organization.--
Section 5902 is amended--
          (1) by redesignating subsection (c) as subsection (d); and
          (2) by inserting after subsection (b) the following new 
        subsection (c):
    ``(c)(1) Unless a claimant specifically indicates in a power of 
attorney filed with the Department a desire to appoint only a 
recognized representative of an organization listed in or approved 
under subsection (a), the Secretary may, for any purpose, treat the 
power of attorney naming such an organization, a specific office of 
such an organization, or a recognized representative of such an 
organization as the claimant's representative as an appointment of the 
entire organization as the claimant's representative.
    ``(2) Whenever the Secretary is required or permitted to notify a 
claimant's representative, and the claimant has named in a power of 
attorney an organization listed in or approved under subsection (a), a 
specific office of such an organization, or a recognized representative 
of such an organization without specifically indicating a desire to 
appoint only a recognized representative of the organization, the 
Secretary shall notify the organization at the address designated by 
the organization for the purpose of receiving the notification 
concerned.''.
    (b) Applicability.--The amendments made by this section apply to 
any power of attorney filed with the Department of Veterans Affairs, 
regardless of the date of its execution.

SEC. 309. PROVISION OF COPIES OF BOARD OF VETERANS' APPEALS DECISIONS.

    Section 7104(e) is amended to read as follows:
    ``(e)(1) After reaching a decision on a case, the Board shall 
promptly mail a copy of its written decision to the claimant at the 
last known address of the claimant.
    ``(2) If the claimant has an authorized representative, the Board 
shall--
          ``(A) mail a copy of its written decision to the authorized 
        representative at the last known address of the authorized 
        representative; or
          ``(B) send a copy of its written decision to the authorized 
        representative by any means reasonably likely to provide the 
        authorized representative with a copy of the decision within 
        the same time a copy would be expected to reach the authorized 
        representative if sent by first-class mail.''.

SEC. 310. EXTENSION OF CERTAIN AUTHORITIES FOR SERVICES FOR HOMELESS 
                    VETERANS.

    (a) Authority for Community-Based Residential Care for Homeless 
Chronically Mentally Ill Veterans and Other Veterans.--Section 115(d) 
of the Veterans' Benefits and Services Act of 1988 (38 U.S.C. 1712 
note) is amended by striking out ``December 31, 1997'' and inserting in 
lieu thereof ``December 31, 1998''.
    (b) Authorizations of Appropriations for Homeless Veterans 
Reintegration Projects.--Section 738(e)(1) of the Stewart B. McKinney 
Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 11448(e)(1)) is amended by adding at 
the end the following:
          ``(E) $10,000,000 for fiscal year 1997.
          ``(F) $10,000,000 for fiscal year 1998.''.

    TITLE IV--EMPLOYMENT AND REEMPLOYMENT RIGHTS OF MEMBERS OF THE 
                           UNIFORMED SERVICES

SEC. 401. PURPOSES.

    Section 4301(a)(2) is amended by striking out ``under honorable 
conditions''.

SEC. 402. DEFINITIONS.

    Section 4303(16) is amended by inserting ``national'' before 
``emergency''.

SEC. 403. DISCRIMINATION AGAINST PERSONS WHO SERVE IN THE UNIFORMED 
                    SERVICES AND ACTS OF REPRISAL PROHIBITED.

    Section 4311 is amended by striking out subsections (b) and (c) and 
inserting in lieu thereof the following:
    ``(b) An employer may not discriminate in employment against or 
take any adverse employment action against any person because such 
person (1) has taken an action to enforce a protection afforded any 
person under this chapter, (2) has testified or otherwise made a 
statement in or in connection with any proceeding under this chapter, 
(3) has assisted or otherwise participated in an investigation under 
this chapter, or (4) has exercised a right provided for in this 
chapter. This subsection shall apply with respect to a person 
regardless of whether the person has performed service in the uniformed 
services.
    ``(c) An employer shall be considered to have engaged in actions 
prohibited--
          ``(1) under subsection (a), if the person's membership, 
        application for membership, service, application for service, 
        or obligation for service in the uniformed services is a 
        motivating factor in the employer's action, unless the employer 
        can prove that the action would have been taken in the absence 
        of such membership, application for membership, service, 
        application for service, or obligation for service; or
          ``(2) under subsection (b), if the person's (A) action to 
        enforce a protection afforded any person under this chapter, 
        (B) testimony or making of a statement in or in connection with 
        any proceeding under this chapter, (C) assistance or other 
        participation in an investigation under this chapter, or (D) 
        exercise of a right provided for in this chapter, is a 
        motivating factor in the employer's action, unless the employer 
        can prove that the action would have been taken in the absence 
        of such person's enforcement action, testimony, statement, 
        assistance, participation, or exercise of a right.
    ``(d) The prohibitions in subsections (a) and (b) shall apply to 
any position of employment, including a position covered by section 
4312(d)(1)(C).''.

SEC. 404. REEMPLOYMENT RIGHTS OF PERSONS WHO SERVE IN THE UNIFORMED 
                    SERVICES.

    (a) Inclusion of Preparation and Travel Time Prior to Service.--
Section 4312(a) is amended by striking out ``who is absent from a 
position of employment'' and inserting in lieu thereof ``whose absence 
from a position of employment is necessitated''.
    (b) Limitation on Service Exemption to War or National Emergency.--
Section 4312(c)(4)(B) is amended to read as follows:
                ``(B) ordered to or retained on active duty (other than 
                for training) under any provision of law because of a 
                war or national emergency declared by the President or 
                the Congress, as determined by the Secretary 
                concerned;''.
    (c) Brief, Nonrecurrent Periods of Service.--Section 4312(d)(2)(C) 
is amended by striking out ``is brief or for a nonrecurrent period and 
without a reasonable expectation'' and inserting in lieu thereof ``is 
for a brief, nonrecurrent period and there is no reasonable 
expectation''.
    (d) Conforming Amendments to Redesignations in Title 10.--Section 
4312(c) is amended--
          (1) in paragraph (3), by striking out ``section 270'' and 
        inserting in lieu thereof ``section 10147''; and
          (2) in paragraph (4)--
                  (A) by striking out ``section 672(a), 672(g), 673, 
                673b, 673c, or 688'' in subparagraph (A) and inserting 
                in lieu thereof ``section 688, 12301(a), 12301(g), 
                12302, 12304, or 12305'';
                  (B) by striking out ``section 673b'' in subparagraph 
                (C) and inserting in lieu thereof ``section 12304''; 
                and
                  (C) by striking out ``section 3500 or 8500'' in 
                subparagraph (E) and inserting in lieu thereof 
                ``section 12406''.

SEC. 405. REEMPLOYMENT POSITIONS.

    Section 4313(a)(4) is amended--
          (1) by striking out ``uniform services'' in subparagraph 
        (A)(ii) and inserting in lieu thereof ``uniformed services''; 
        and
          (2) by striking out ``of lesser status and pay which'' and 
        inserting in lieu thereof ``which is the nearest approximation 
        to a position referred to first in clause (A)(i) and then in 
        clause (A)(ii) which''.

SEC. 406. LEAVE.

    Section 4316(d) is amended by adding at the end the following new 
sentence: ``No employer may require any such person to use vacation, 
annual, or similar leave during such period of service.''.

SEC. 407. HEALTH PLANS.

    Section 4317(a) is amended--
          (1) by striking out ``(a)(1)(A) Subject to paragraphs (2) and 
        (3), in'' and inserting in lieu thereof ``(a)(1) In'';
          (2) by redesignating clauses (i) and (ii) of paragraph (1) 
        (as amended by paragraph (1) of this section) as subparagraphs 
        (A) and (B), respectively;
          (3) by redesignating subparagraph (B) as paragraph (2); and
          (4) by redesignating subparagraph (C) as paragraph (3), and 
        in that paragraph by redesignating clauses (i) and (ii) as 
        subparagraphs (A) and (B), respectively, and by redesignating 
        subclauses (I) and (II) as clauses (i) and (ii), respectively.

SEC. 408. EMPLOYEE PENSION BENEFIT PLANS.

    The last sentence of section 4318(b)(2) is amended by striking out 
``services,'' and inserting in lieu thereof ``services, such payment 
period''.

SEC. 409. ENFORCEMENT OF EMPLOYMENT OR REEMPLOYMENT RIGHTS.

    (a) Technical Amendment.--The second sentence of section 4322(d) is 
amended by inserting ``attempt to'' before ``resolve''.
    (b) Notification.--Section 4322(e) is amended--
          (1) in the matter preceding paragraph (1), by striking out 
        ``with respect to a complaint under subsection (d) are 
        unsuccessful,'' and inserting in lieu thereof ``with respect to 
        any complaint filed under subsection (a) do not resolve the 
        complaint,''; and
          (2) in paragraph (2), by inserting ``or the Office of 
        Personnel Management'' after ``Federal executive agency''.

SEC. 410. ENFORCEMENT OF RIGHTS WITH RESPECT TO A STATE OR PRIVATE 
                    EMPLOYER.

    Section 4323(a) is amended--
          (1) in paragraph (1), by striking out ``of an unsuccessful 
        effort to resolve a complaint''; and
          (2) in paragraph (2)(A), by striking out ``regarding the 
        complaint under section 4322(c)'' and inserting in lieu thereof 
        ``under section 4322(a)''.

SEC. 411. ENFORCEMENT OF RIGHTS WITH RESPECT TO FEDERAL EXECUTIVE 
                    AGENCIES.

    (a) Referral.--Section 4324(a)(1) is amended by striking out ``of 
an unsuccessful effort to resolve a complaint relating to a Federal 
executive agency''.
    (b) Alternative Submission of Complaint.--Section 4324(b) is 
amended--
          (1) in the matter preceding paragraph (1), by inserting ``or 
        the Office of Personnel Management'' after ``Federal executive 
        agency''; and
          (2) in paragraph (1), by striking out ``regarding a complaint 
        under section 4322(c)'' and inserting in lieu thereof ``under 
        section 4322(a)''.
    (c) Relief.--Section 4324(c)(2) is amended--
          (1) by inserting ``or the Office of Personnel Management'' 
        after ``Federal executive agency''; and
          (2) by striking out ``employee'' and inserting in lieu 
        thereof ``Office''.

SEC. 412. ENFORCEMENT OF RIGHTS WITH RESPECT TO CERTAIN FEDERAL 
                    AGENCIES.

    Section 4325(d)(1) is amended--
          (1) by striking out ``,  alternative employment in the 
        Federal Government under this chapter,''; and
          (2) by striking out ``employee'' the last place it appears 
        and inserting in lieu thereof ``employees''.

SEC. 413. CONDUCT OF INVESTIGATION; SUBPOENAS.

    Section 4326(a) is amended by inserting ``have reasonable access to 
and the right to interview persons with information relevant to the 
investigation and shall'' after ``at all reasonable times,''.

SEC. 414. TRANSITION RULES AND EFFECTIVE DATES.

    (a) Reemployment.--Section 8(a) of the Uniformed Services 
Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (Public Law 103-353; 108 
Stat. 3175; 38 U.S.C. 4301 note) is amended--
          (1) in paragraph (3), by adding at the end thereof the 
        following: ``Any service begun up to 60 days after the date of 
        enactment of this Act, which is served up to 60 days after the 
        date of enactment of this Act pursuant to orders issued under 
        section 502(f) of title 32, United States Code, shall be 
        considered under chapter 43 of title 38, United States Code, as 
        in effect on the day before such date of enactment. Any service 
        pursuant to orders issued under such section 502(f) served 
        after 60 days after the date of enactment of this Act, 
        regardless of when begun, shall be considered under the 
        amendments made by this Act.''; and
          (2) in paragraph (4), by striking out ``such period'' and 
        inserting in lieu thereof ``such 60-day period''.
    (b) Insurance.--Section 8(c)(2) of such Act is amended by striking 
out ``person on active duty'' and inserting in lieu thereof ``person 
serving a period of service in the uniformed services''.

SEC. 415. EFFECTIVE DATES.

    (a) In General.--Except as provided in subsection (b), the 
amendments made by this title shall take effect as of October 13, 1994.
    (b) Reorganized Title 10 References.--The amendments made by 
section 404(d) of this Act shall take effect as of December 1, 1994.
    Amend the title to read as follows: ``To amend title 38, United 
States Code, to improve the benefits programs administered by the 
Secretary of Veterans Affairs, to provide for a study of the Federal 
programs for veterans, and for other purposes.''.

                              Introduction

    On April 29, 1996, Senator Robert J. Dole introduced S. 
1711. As introduced, S. 1711 would have created a Commission to 
evaluate the programs of the Federal Government that assist 
members of the Armed Forces and veterans in readjusting to 
civilian life.
    On June 29, 1995, the Chairman of the Committee, Senator 
Alan K. Simpson, introduced several bills at the request of the 
Administration, including S. 994, which would have clarified 
the eligibility of certain minors for burial in national 
cemeteries; S. 995, which would have restricted the payment of 
clothing allowances to incarcerated veterans and created a 
legal presumption that certain veterans are permanently and 
totally disabled; and S. 996, which would have reformed the 
Servicemen's Group Life Insurance program and the Veterans' 
Group Life Insurance program.
    On May 13, 1996, Senator Simpson introduced several bills 
at the request of the Administration, including S. 1751, which 
would have revised procedures for providing claimants and their 
representatives copies of Board of Veterans' Appeals decisions, 
and clarified claimants' rights with respect to the appointment 
of service organization representatives.
    On January 26, 1995, Senator Alfonse M. D'Amato introduced 
S. 281, which would have changed the date for the beginning on 
the Vietnam era for the purpose of veterans benefits from 
August 5, 1964, to December 22, 1961.
    On May 3, 1995, Committee member Daniel K. Akaka, 
introduced S. 749 with the cosponsorship of the Ranking 
Minority Member of the Committee, Senator John D. Rockefeller 
IV. As introduced, S. 749 would have revised legal authorities 
relating to the Center for Minority Veterans and the Center for 
Women Veterans of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
    On October 19, 1995, Senator Akaka introduced S. 1342 with 
the cosponsorship of Senator Rockefeller, Senator Daniel K. 
Inouye, Committee member Paul Wellstone, and Senator Paul 
Simon. As introduced, S. 1342 would have authorized the 
Secretary of Veterans Affairs to make loans to refinance loans 
made to veterans under the Native American Veterans Direct Loan 
Program.
    On May 23, 1996, the Committee held a hearing to receive 
testimony on pending legislation, including S. 1711, as 
introduced, S. 994, S. 995, S. 996, S. 1751, S. 281, S. 749, 
and S. 1342. Testimony was received from the Honorable Frank Q. 
Nebeker, Chief Judge, United States Court of Veterans Appeals; 
from the Honorable Charles L. Cragin, Chairman, Board of 
Veterans' Appeals, Department of Veterans Affairs; and from 
representatives of The American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign 
Wars, the Disabled American Veterans, the Paralyzed Veterans of 
America, the Vietnam Veterans of America, the Nurses 
Organization of Veterans Affairs, the National Association of 
VA Physicians and Dentists, the National Organization of 
Veterans' Advocates, and the Advisory Committee, Veterans 
Consortium Pro Bono Program. Testimony was also submitted for 
the record of the hearing by the Honorable Preston M. Taylor, 
Jr., Assistant Secretary of Labor for Veterans' Employment and 
Training, and by the Non Commissioned Officers Association of 
the United States.

                           Committee Meeting

    After carefully reviewing the testimony from the foregoing 
hearing, the Committee met in open session on July 24, 1996, 
and voted unanimously to report S. 1711 with an amendment in 
the nature of a substitute that includes provisions from S. 
1711, as introduced, S. 994, S. 995, S. 996, S. 1751, S. 281, 
S. 749, and S. 1342, as well as an original provision relating 
to VA authority to provide burial receptacles; an original 
provision extending an expiring authority for VA to recognize 
training programs for the completion of State-approved 
alternative teaching certifications as ``educational 
institutions'' for purposes of VA educational assistance 
programs; an original provision extending authority for the 
Homeless Veterans' Reintegration Project; and a provision 
derived from Title III of H.R. 2289, a bill approved by the 
House of Representatives on December 12, 1995, pertaining to 
technical amendments to the Uniformed Services Employment and 
Reemployment Rights Act of 1994, Public Law 103-353.

                     Summary of S. 1711 as Reported

    S. 1711, as reported (hereinafter referred to as the 
``Committee bill''), consists of four titles summarized below 
that would establish a Commission to evaluate the programs of 
the Federal Government that assist members of the Armed Forces 
and veterans in readjusting to civilian life; reform the 
Servicemen's Group Life Insurance program and the Veterans' 
Group Life Insurance program; modify the dates of the Vietnam 
era for certain purposes, and revise and improve, or extend, 
other provisions of law relating to VA benefits programs; and 
make technical amendments to the Uniformed Services Employment 
and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA).

              title i--commission on transition assistance

    Title I contains freestanding provisions that would:
    1. Establish a 12-member Commission on Service Members and 
Veterans Transition Assistance (section 101).
    2. Set forth the duties of the Commission to review the 
effectiveness and appropriateness of the veterans' transition 
and assistance programs, to make recommendations to Congress on 
ways to improve the programs and ensure their continued 
utility, and to issue certain reports to Congress (section 
102).
    3. Specify Commission powers to hold hearings, receive 
evidence, and secure necessary information from Federal 
agencies and departments (section 103).
    4. Authorize Commission members' salaries and the 
appointment of an executive director, and specify other 
personnel administration matters (section 105).
    5. Terminate the Commission 90 days after submission of its 
final report (section 106).
    6. Provide for funding by the Secretary of Defense (section 
108).

                   title ii--life insurance programs

    Title II contains amendments to title 38, United States 
Code, that would:
    1. Rename the Servicemen's Group Life Insurance program as 
the Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance program and remove 
gender references with respect to that program (section 202).
    2. Convert Retired Reservist Servicemembers' Group Life 
Insurance to Veterans' Group Life Insurance, and extend 
Veterans' Group Life Insurance to members of the Ready Reserves 
(section 203).
    3. Provide for the optional conversion of Servicemembers' 
Group Life Insurance and Veterans' Group Life Insurance to 
commercial life insurance (section 204).

              title iii--miscellaneous benefits provisions

    Title III contains freestanding provisions and amendments 
to title 38, United States Code, that would:
    1. Redefine the term ``Vietnam era'' for purposes of 
veterans benefits (section 301).
    2. Revise and clarify authorities relating to VA's Center 
for Minority Veterans and VA's Center for Women Veterans, and 
extend the termination date of the Center for Minority Veterans 
(section 302).
    3. Authorize VA, in the provision of memorial benefits, to 
provide ``outer burial receptacles'' other than ``grave 
liners,'' with any difference in the cost of such receptacles 
over the cost of grave liners being borne by the survivors of 
the deceased (section 303).
    4. Clarify that an interred veteran's ``minor children,'' 
who are eligible for burial in the national cemeteries, include 
children who, at death, were under 21 years of age or under 23 
years of age if they were pursuing a full-time course of 
education (section 304).
    5. Extend the expiration date of VA authority to treat 
alternative teacher certification programs as ``educational 
institutions'' for veterans' educational assistance program 
purposes (section 305).
    6. Authorize refinancing direct loans to home purchasers 
who financed purchases under the Native American Housing Loan 
Pilot Program so that such purchasers might take advantage of 
interest rate reductions (section 306).
    7. Eliminate incarcerated veterans' eligibility for 
clothing allowances (section 307).
    8. Specify that veterans who designate a veterans service 
organization as their representative for purposes of pursuing a 
claim for veterans benefits shall be deemed to have appointed 
the organization, and not an individual employee of that 
organization, as representative unless they have indicated a 
contrary intention, and thereby clarify that VA notifications 
concerning a claim may be made to the organization and need not 
be made to any specific employee of the organization (section 
308).
    9. Require that the VA's Board of Veterans' Appeals mail 
decisions to all individual claimants, and in the case of 
claimants who have appointed authorized representatives, that 
it mail or, at VA's option, send by means other than the mail 
copies of decisions to the claimant's representative (section 
309).
    10. Extend through 1998 VA's pilot program of providing 
community-based treatment and rehabilitation services to 
homeless veterans (section 310(a)).
    11. Authorize appropriations for Homeless Veterans 
Reintegration Projects under section 738(e)(1) of the Stewart 
B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act in the amount of $10 
million for fiscal years 1997 and 1998 (section 310(b)).

    title iv--employment and reemployment rights of members of the 
                           uniformed services

    Title IV contains freestanding provisions and technical and 
clarifying amendments to title 38, United States Code, that 
would:
    1. Clarify the character of service that is a prerequisite 
to the applicability of rights specified in the Uniformed 
Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 
(section 401).
    2. Clarify that the definition of ``uniformed services'' 
may include persons who are so designated by the President in 
time of war or national emergency (section 402).
    3. Clarify that the burden of proof provision specified in 
section 4311 applies to both anti-reprisal and anti-
discrimination situations (section 403).
    4. Clarify that the time during which an individual is 
entitled to reemployment rights and benefits is not limited to 
actual service time only, but also includes, for example, 
preparation and travel time prior to service (section 404(a)).
    5. Clarify that a person ordered to, or retained on, active 
duty because of a war or a national emergency would be exempt 
from the 5-year cumulative length of absence limitation under 
section 4312(c)(4)(B) (section 404(b)).
    6. Clarify provisions establishing an employer's duty to 
rehire when employment was for a brief, nonrecurrent period of 
time (section 404(c)).
    7. Clarify that reemployed persons who are not qualified to 
reassume their prior positions, or are not qualified to assume 
the positions they would have occupied had their employment not 
been interrupted, shall be placed in positions that most nearly 
approximate such positions and not necessarily in positions 
that are of lesser status and pay than such positions (section 
405).
    8. Clarify that employers may not require a person whose 
employment is interrupted by service to use vacation, annual, 
or similar leave during such service (section 406).
    9. Clarify that the maximum time allowed for persons to 
make employee contributions to pension benefit plans under 
section 4318(b)(2) shall be 5 years (section 408).
    10. Make technical corrections to section 4322(d) and 
section 4322(e) relating to enforcement of employment or 
reemployment rights and the duty of the Department of Labor to 
attempt to resolve complaints of USERRA violations (sections 
409(a) and 409(b)(1)).
    11. Make a technical correction to section 4322(e) relating 
to notification requirements with respect to unresolved 
complaints against a Federal executive agency or the Office of 
Personnel Management (section 409(b)(2)).
    12. Make technical corrections to section 4323(a) relating 
to enforcement of rights against a State or private employer, 
to remove superfluous language, and to correct an erroneous 
cross reference (section 410).
    13. Make a technical correction to section 4324(a)(1), 
relating to the referral of complaints to the Office of Special 
Counsel, to remove superfluous language (section 411(a)).
    14. Make technical corrections to provisions of sections 
4324(b) and 4324(c)(2) relating to submission of complaints and 
enforcement of rights with respect to Federal executive 
agencies, to add a reference to the Office of Personnel 
Management, to correct an erroneous cross reference, and to 
correct the erroneous use of the term ``employee'' instead of 
``Office'' (sections 411(b) and 411(c)).
    15. Amend section 4325(d)(1) to clarify that the Department 
of Labor is not required to provide information to Federal 
employees concerning alternative Federal employment, and to 
correct a grammatical error (section 412).
    16. Clarify that, during investigations to enforce USERRA, 
the Department of Labor shall have access not only to 
documents, but also to persons with relevant information 
(section 413).
    17. Clarify the transition rules specified in section 8(a) 
of USERRA (section 414(a)).
    18. Clarify that the transition rules specified in section 
8(c)(2) of USERRA pertaining to health plans apply not only to 
an ``active duty'' service member but also to all persons in 
service as encompassed by the term a ``service in the uniformed 
services'' as defined in section 4303(13) (section 414(b)).
    19. Specify that the amendments set forth in Title IV would 
be effective on October 13, 1994 (the effective date of USERRA) 
except for the conforming amendments made by section 404(d) 
which would be effective on December 1, 1994 (section 415).

                               Discussion

              title i--commission on transition assistance

    Title I of the Committee bill, which is derived from S. 
1711 as introduced, would authorize the establishment of a 
Commission on Service Members and Veterans Transition 
Assistance.

Background

    Under current law, various Federal agencies, including the 
Departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs, and Labor, and the 
Small Business Administration, administer programs to assist 
active duty service personnel approaching separation from the 
service, and veterans, in making the transition from service to 
civilian life. Among these programs are education assistance 
programs, job training programs, vocational rehabilitation 
programs (for disabled veterans), job placement assistance and 
counseling programs, home loan programs, small business 
assistance, and other assistance programs.

Committee Bill

            Section 101. Establishment of the Commission on Service 
                    Members and Veterans Transition Assistance
    Section 101 would establish a Commission on Service Members 
and Veterans Transition Assistance having a membership of 12 
persons. Commission members would be appointed by the chairs, 
in consultation with the ranking minority members, of the 
Senate and House Committees on Veterans' Affairs, the Senate 
Committee on Armed Services, and the House Committee on 
National Security. Two members of the Commission--one appointed 
by each of the chairs of the Committees on Veterans' Affairs--
would be representatives of veterans service organizations. No 
more than seven members of the Commission would be members of 
the same political party, and, to the extend practicable, all 
members of the Commission would be veterans.
            Section 102. Duties of the Commission
    Section 102 specifies that the Commission would review the 
adequacy, effectiveness and appropriateness of transition and 
assistance programs in place to assist members of the Armed 
Services in adjusting to civilian life upon separation. The 
Commission would examine, among other things, educational 
assistance programs; job counseling, job training, and job 
placement programs; rehabilitation and training programs; 
housing loan programs; small business loan and small business 
assistance programs; employer training and union apprenticeship 
programs; Federal Government personnel policies, including 
veterans' preference policies; and programs to assist the 
transition of military families. The Commission would review 
the allocation of responsibility for these various transition 
programs among the various Federal departments and agencies, 
and determine the feasibility and desirability of consolidating 
such programs in one department or agency. Upon the completion 
of its review, the Commission would make recommendations to 
Congress on ways to improve, and to ensure the continued 
utility of, these programs.
    The Commission would be required to submit a preliminary 
report, detailing the planned work of the Commission, within 90 
days of the appointment of its membership, and a final report, 
specifying the Commission's findings and recommendations for 
legislative and administrative action, within 1 year of the 
date of the first meeting of the Commission. The Departments of 
Defense and Veterans Affairs would be required to jointly 
transmit their comments on the Commission's final report to 
Congress.
            Section 103. Powers of the Commission
    The Commission would be authorized to hold hearings and 
receive testimony and evidence. Federal agencies would be 
directed to furnish requested information to the Commission.

                   title ii--life insurance programs

    Title II of the Committee bill, which is derived from S. 
996 as introduced, would change the name of the Servicemen's 
Group Life Insurance (SGLI) program, merge Retired Reservist 
SGLI into the Veterans' Group Life Insurance (VGLI) program, 
extend VGLI insurance benefits to members of the Ready 
Reserves, and authorize conversion of VGLI policies to 
individual commercial policies at any time.

Background

    VA administers six life insurance programs, and supervises 
the administration of two other insurance programs, for the 
benefit of service members, veterans, and their beneficiaries. 
At the end of 1995, the total amount of insurance under these 
programs was over $491 billion. The two programs supervised by 
VA, but administered under a contractual agreement by the 
Prudential Insurance Company, are the Servicemen's Group Life 
Insurance program and Veterans' Group Life Insurance program.
    The SGLI program provides low-cost group life insurance 
protection to service members on active duty and to ready 
reservists, retired reservists, members of the Commissioned 
Corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 
and the Public Health Service, cadets and midshipmen of the 
four service academies, and members of the Reserve Officer 
Training Corps. At the end of 1995, 2.7 million individuals 
were covered under this program.
    The VGLI program provides post-separation insurance by 
facilitating the conversion of SGLI policies into 5-year 
renewable term policies. At the end of 1995, 349,256 enrollees 
had insurance coverage under VGLI.

Committee bill

            Section 202. Renaming of Servicemen's Group Life Insurance
    Section 202 would rename Servicemen's Group Life Insurance 
as ``Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance,'' and make 
conforming amendments elsewhere in provisions of law referring 
to SGLI to make the program's title gender-neutral.
            Section 203. Merger of Retired Reservist Servicemembers' 
                    Group Life Insurance and Veterans' Group Life 
                    Insurance and Extension of Veterans' Group Life 
                    Insurance to Members of the Ready Reserve
    Under current law, when members of the Ready Reserve retire 
with 20 years of service, or are transferred to the Retired 
Reserve under temporary special retirement authority, they may 
continue SGLI coverage in force as Retired Reservist SGLI. Such 
SGLI policies expire when the former Ready Reserve member 
begins receiving retirement pay or reaches age 61, whichever 
comes first. Section 203 would eliminate this time limitation 
on Retired Reservist SGLI by merging Retired Reservist SGLI 
into VGLI, a program which offers lifetime coverage to policy 
holders. Thus, lifetime coverage would be made available to 
retired reservists by providing them access to the Veterans' 
Group Life Insurance program.
    Section 203 would also extend eligibility for Veterans' 
Group Life Insurance coverage to members of the Ready Reserve 
of a uniformed service. Under current law, members of the Ready 
Reserves who separate with fewer than 20 years service are not 
eligible to convert their SGLI policies to VGLI.
            Section 204. Conversion of SGLI and VGLI Policies to 
                    Commercial Life Insurance Policies
    Under current law, service members may not convert SGLI 
insurance policies to commercial policies when they separate 
from service. Rather, they may enroll in VGLI upon separation. 
VGLI policies may be converted into commercial policies, but 
only after they have been held for 5 years.
    Some consumers prefer commercial policies due, for example, 
to the fact that they are ``whole life'' policies. Others 
prefer such policies due to the fact that they are assignable 
(and they may, therefore, be ``cashed out'' before death) in 
some States. The 5-year waiting period now imposed before VGLI 
policies can be converted--and the fact that SGLI policies 
cannot be converted at all--currently block, or delay, consumer 
choice to convert to commercial policies. Section 204 would 
eliminate these restrictions on conversion.

              title iii--miscellaneous benefits provisions

    Title III of the Committee bill, which is derived from S. 
281, S. 749, S. 994, S. 995, S. 1342, and S. 1751, and also 
contains original provisions, would make various changes in law 
as outlined below.

Section 301. Expansion of period of vietnam era for certain veterans

    The term ``Vietnam era'' is defined under current law as 
the period between August 5, 1964 (the date of the incident 
which led to the adoption of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution) and 
May 7, 1975. Veterans who suffer from certain specified 
diseases are entitled to a presumption of service connection if 
they served within the Republic of Vietnam during ``the Vietnam 
era,'' 38 U.S.C. Sec. 1116, and veterans who so served are also 
eligible for hospital, nursing home, and domiciliary care under 
38 U.S.C. Sec. 1710(a)(1)(G), as specified in 38 U.S.C. 
Sec. 1710(e)(1)(A). In addition, all veterans who served within 
the time frame of the ``Vietnam era'' are ``wartime'' veterans 
whether or not they served in the Republic of Vietnam, and are 
thus entitled to veterans benefits, principally pension 
benefits under chapter 15 of title 38, to which ``wartime 
veterans'' alone are entitled.
    United States military personnel were, in fact, serving 
within the borders of the Republic of Vietnam prior to August 
5, 1964, principally as advisors to the armed forces of the 
Republic of South Vietnam.
    Section 301 of the Committee bill would amend the 
definition of ``Vietnam era'' and, for general purposes, define 
the ``Vietnam era'' as beginning on February 28, 1961, the date 
accepted as the date U.S. forces generally began to accompany 
their Vietnamese counterparts on combat operations. It would 
apply that definition, however, only with respect to those 
veterans who actually served within the borders of the Republic 
of Vietnam during that time frame. Thus, the Committee intends 
that, for purposes of benefits made available to ``wartime'' 
veterans only, service between February 28, 1961, and August 4, 
1964, would qualify as ``wartime'' service only if the veteran 
actually served in the Republic of Vietnam during that time 
period.
    Herbicides and defoliants were not in use throughout the 
``Vietnam era'' as that term would be newly defined under the 
Committee bill. Rather, such materials were not introduced into 
the Republic of Vietnam until January 9, 1962. Therefore, 
section 301 of the Committee bill specifies that for purposes 
of sections 1116 and 1710 of title 38--provisions of law which 
specify benefits based on presumptive exposure to herbicides 
and defoliants--the term ``Vietnam era'' would be limited to 
the period between January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975. The 
Committee intends that benefits that are premised on presumed 
exposure to defoliants and herbicides shall be available to all 
who served in the Republic of Vietnam when such materials were 
present there, but that they not be extended to those who 
served in the Republic of Vietnam only before such materials 
were introduced.

Section 302. Revision of authority relating to centers for minority 
        veterans and women veterans

    Section 509 of Public Law 103-446 created within VA a 
Center for Minority Veterans, 38 U.S.C. Sec. 317, and a Center 
for Women Veterans, 38 U.S.C. Sec. 318.
    Section 302 of the Committee bill would make a series of 
perfecting, conforming, and technical amendments to sections 
317 and 318 of title 38, United States Code. It would provide 
that the Directors of the two Centers may be either non-career 
or career employees; currently, they must be non-career 
employees. It would provide that the Director of the Center for 
Minority Veterans advise the Secretary of VA on issues relating 
to minority group-focused medical research; currently, the 
Director of the Center for Women Veterans performs a parallel 
function as to research focused on women veterans. It would 
require that the Center for Minority Veterans provide support 
and administrative services to the Advisory Committee on 
Minority Veterans (created pursuant to section 510 of Public 
Law 103-446); currently, the Center for Women Veterans provides 
support services to the Advisory Committee on Women Veterans. 
It would define the term ``minority veteran''; currently, that 
term is not defined. It would clarify the functions of the 
Center for Women Veterans and the Advisory Committees on 
Minority and Women Veterans. Finally, section 302 would extend 
the ``sunset'' date of the Advisory Committee on Minority 
Veterans from December 31, 1997, to December 31, 1999.

Section 303. Outer burial receptacles

    Under current law, the Department of Veterans Affairs 
``shall provide * * * grave liner[s]'' for graves in national 
cemeteries, and the Department of the Army ``may provide'' 
grave liners in Arlington National Cemetery. 38 U.S.C. 
Sec. 2306(d)(1). Grave liners are typically comprised of 
multiple slabs of concrete which are fitted together in the 
grave around the casket. They are not water tight.
    Grave liners reduce maintenance costs at cemeteries by 
preventing the ground over and around the casket from sinking 
and by preventing grave headstones from sinking or tilting. 
Further, apart from considerations purely associated with 
maintenance, grave liners assure the continuation of regular 
surface contours in cemeteries, advancing both aesthetic and 
public safety purposes. Unintended surface irregularities are 
not pleasing to the eye, and they increase the dangers of falls 
and other accidents by cemetery staff and visitors.
    Grave liners are but one type of burial receptacle 
currently available. Another type of receptacle which has 
gained some favor with consumers is a ``burial vault,'' a 
single-piece, water-tight, concrete enclosure for the casket 
which is lowered into the grave ahead of the casket. The 
Committee understands that burial vaults serve all of the 
maintenance, aesthetic, and safety purposes that grave liners 
serve. They are, however, more expensive than grave liners. 
Nonetheless, consumers of burial services at non-VA and 
Department of the Army facilities often choose such vaults, 
reportedly due to their water-tight characteristic.
    Section 303 of the Committee bill would remove the specific 
reference to ``grave liners'' in sections 2306(d)(1) and 
(d)(2), which language might be construed to require, or 
authorize, the providing of grave liners only in National 
Cemetery System (NCS) facilities or in Arlington National 
Cemetery. It would substitute in place of that language the 
term ``outer burial receptacle.'' The Committee intends that VA 
would thereby be required, and the Department of the Army would 
thereby be authorized, to furnish grave liners or burial vaults 
or other casket receptacles as provided by regulations or 
procedures adopted to implement this statutory change. The 
Committee intends that the survivors of deceased persons who 
are eligible for interment in national cemeteries and in 
Arlington National Cemetery be provided with the choices 
available to other consumers. Thus, it intends that they be 
allowed to choose grave liners, burial vaults, or other 
products that might be developed, so long as such choices are 
consistent with the maintenance, aesthetic and public safety 
considerations noted above.
    The Committee is aware that NCS and Department of the Army 
resources are limited. The Committee bill provides, therefore, 
that section 303 shall be implemented in a fashion which 
results in no additional costs being incurred by VA or the 
Department of the Army. Specifically, section 303 states that 
regulations or procedures adopted under section 303 may allow 
persons to elect burial receptacles other than grave liners 
and, if they do, would require them to pay any additional costs 
associated with such products and, in addition, an amount which 
reflects the administrative costs incurred in providing, and 
procuring, that product choice. Section 303 also provides 
flexibility in implementing cost recovery mechanisms by 
authorizing the use of a voucher system.

Section 304. Clarification of eligibility of minors for burial in 
        national cemeteries

    Under current law, an interred veteran's surviving spouse 
when he or she dies, and the interred veteran's children who 
are minors when they die, may be buried with a deceased veteran 
in a national cemetery. 38 U.S.C. Sec. 2402(5). While section 
2402 establishes eligibility of a veteran's ``minor child'' for 
burial in a national cemetery, it does not define the term 
``minor child.'' Since VA defines ``minor child'' in various 
ways for various program purposes, potential confusion may 
arise as to burial eligibility--confusion which would be 
particularly regrettable were it to arise, as here, at a time 
of family distress.
    Section 304 would remove such confusion by statutorily 
defining ``minor child'' for purposes of eligibility for 
interment in a national cemetery. It specifies that, for such 
purposes, a ``minor child'' will be one who is under 21 years 
of age, or one who is under 23 years of age if the child was a 
student at the time of death. The Committee has adopted the 
definition of ``minor child'' that VA had previously 
promulgated by regulation, 38 C.F.R. Sec. 1.620(g). The 
Committee thus intends and expects that there will be no change 
in VA practice as a result of this provision.

Section 305. Extension of authority to treat alternative teacher 
        certification programs as educational institutions for certain 
        educational assistance purposes

    VA beneficiaries are eligible for ``Montgomery GI Bill'' 
(MGIB) educational assistance if they participate in a 
``program of education'' offered by an ``educational 
institution.'' See 38 U.S.C. Sec. Sec. 3452(b) and 3452(c). 
Section 603(a) of Public Law 103-446 redefined the term 
``educational institution'' in section 3452(c) and thereby 
created a pilot program authorizing the receipt of MGIB 
assistance for participation, through September 30, 1996, in 
training for completion of alternative teacher certification 
programs. Such programs are designed to facilitate the 
certification of persons for teaching positions through 
nontraditional curricula and to encourage the entry into the 
teaching profession of individuals whose undergraduate training 
was not in education.
    Section 305 of the Committee bill would extend this pilot 
program through December 31, 1998.

Section 306. Direct loans to refinance loans under the Native American 
        Veteran Housing Loan Pilot Program

    Public Law 102-547 created a 5-year pilot program for 
direct lending by VA to veterans to finance the purchase or 
construction of homes on U.S. trust lands. 38 U.S.C. Sec. 3762. 
Direct loans are needed because commercial lenders are 
reluctant, even with a VA loan guarantee, to lend to Native 
American veteran-homeowners who wish to buy or build on trust 
lands since such lands cannot be assigned and lenders, 
therefore, cannot foreclose on them.
    VA's other home loan programs allow for facilitated 
refinancing in the event of significant decreases in interest 
rates. When the Native American Housing Loan Pilot Program was 
created, no such provision was included in the pilot program.
    Section 306 would authorize refinancing direct loans to 
borrowers under the Native American Housing Loan Pilot Program 
when interest rates have dropped 1 percentage point below the 
rate borne by the existing loan being refinanced. The Committee 
intends that Native American borrowers, like all borrowers, 
have the benefit of refinancing in situations where interest 
rates have dropped significantly.

Section 307. Clothing allowance for incarcerated veterans

    Under current law, a veteran who has a service-connected 
disability which requires the wearing of a prosthetic device or 
the use of a skin medication which damages the veteran's 
clothing is eligible for a ``clothing allowance.'' The purpose 
of the clothing allowance, which is currently set at $503 per 
year and which is modified from time to time to reflect 
increases in the cost of living, is to assist the veteran in 
offsetting the added cost of clothing incurred as a consequence 
of his or her service-connected disability.
    Incarcerated persons typically receive clothing, as needed, 
from penal authorities at no expense to the incarcerated 
person. In such cases, the incarcerated veteran will have 
incurred no personal expense in replacing clothing damaged by 
his or her prosthetic device or medications. Section 307, 
therefore, would abolish the clothing allowance as to such 
persons if they are furnished clothing without charge by the 
custodial institution. It would do so by reducing the annual 
allowance by 1/365 for each day in excess of 60 days that the 
veteran is incarcerated.

Section 308. Appointment of veterans service organizations as 
        claimants' representatives

    Current law authorizes VA to recognize any individual, and 
certain veterans service organizations, in preparing, 
presenting, and prosecuting claims for VA benefits. See 38 
U.S.C. Sec. Sec. 5902(a)(1), 5903, 5904(a). As a matter of 
practice, VA has recognized any accredited representative of a 
veterans service organization as a particular claimant's 
representative in cases where the claimant has filed a power of 
attorney designating the organization itself or any office or 
representative of that organization. In Leo v. Brown, 8 Vet. 
App. 410 (1995), the Court of Veterans Appeals (CVA) held that 
delivery of a decision by the Board of Veterans'' Appeals (BVA) 
to a service organization office other than the office 
specified by the claimant is defective and that, therefore, an 
apparently late filing of an appeal could not be ruled untimely 
based on the running of a filing deadline from that date of 
defective delivery.
    Section 308 of the Committee bill would amend section 5902 
to authorize VA to treat a power of attorney which names a 
veterans service organization as the claimant's representative 
as naming the entire organization as the representative absent 
an indication in the power of attorney form of a claimant's 
intention to name a specific representative only. Thus, in 
cases where a veterans service organization is named without an 
indication of an intention to limit that naming to a specific 
representative only, VA notifications could be sent to the 
organization at the address designated by the organization for 
the receipt of such notices.

Section 309. Provision of copies of Board of Veterans' Appeals 
        decisions

    Under current law, BVA must ``promptly mail * * * written 
decision[s] to the claimant and the claimant's authorized 
representative.'' 38 U.S.C. Sec. 7104(e). As a matter of 
practice, BVA had, at one time, used methods of delivery other 
than the mails, for example, hand delivery, in supplying copies 
of decisions to claimants' representatives. In Trammell v. 
Brown, 6 Vet. App. 181 (1994), CVA held that a delivery of a 
decision by a method other than the mails does not accord with 
statute, and that an apparently late filing of an appeal by a 
claimant who had received delivery by means other than the 
mails was, therefore, timely filed. See also Davis v. Brown, 7 
Vet. App. 298 (1995).
    Section 309 of the Committee bill would amend section 
7104(e) to authorize BVA, in cases where a claimant has an 
authorized representative, either to mail or to otherwise 
deliver copies of written decisions to the claimant's 
representative. As it would be amended, section 7104(e) would 
continue to mandate that in all cases, that is, whether or not 
the claimant has an authorized representative, copies of 
decisions would be mailed to the claimant. Thus, in cases where 
a claimant has a representative, the Committee intends that 
service of decisions be carried out twice, once, by mail to the 
claimant, and, second, by mail or other means, as specified in 
the statute, to the claimant's representative.

Section 310. Extension of certain authorities for services for homeless 
        veterans

    Section 115 of Public Law 100-322 established a pilot 
program authorizing VA to provide community-based treatment and 
rehabilitation services to homeless veterans. Under this 
authority, VA provides services to homeless veterans, directly 
or by contract, in halfway houses, therapeutic communities, 
psychiatric residential treatment centers, and other community-
based treatment facilities. Under current law, this authority 
expires on December 31, 1997.
    The Homeless Veteran Reintegration Project (HVRP), 42 
U.S.C. Sec. 11448, was authorized by the Stewart B. McKinney 
Homeless Assistance Act, Public Law 100-77, 42 U.S.C. chapter 
119. It authorizes the Secretary of Labor to establish programs 
to assist homeless and indigent veterans in returning to 
productive life. Appropriations for this program are authorized 
through fiscal year 1996 only. See Public Law 104-110, 
Sec. 102(d).
    Section 310 of the Committee bill would authorize $10 
million in appropriations for HVRP for each of two additional 
fiscal years, fiscal years 1997 and 1998. In addition, it would 
extend authority for VA's pilot program for community-based 
treatment and rehabilitation services to homeless veterans 
through calendar year 1998.

    TITLE IV--EMPLOYMENT AND REEMPLOYMENT RIGHTS OF MEMBERS OF THE 
                           UNIFORMED SERVICES

    Title IV of the Committee bill is derived from Title III of 
H.R. 2289, a bill which was approved by the House of 
Representatives on December 12, 1995, and referred to the 
Committee on December 13, 1995. Title IV would make technical 
and clarifying amendments to the Uniformed Services Employment 
and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA), Public Law 103-
353.

Background

    Provisions of Federal law relating to the reemployment 
rights of members of the uniformed services date from the 
enactment of the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940. 
Since that time, employment and reemployment rights have 
remained an element of Federal law. They are currently codified 
in chapter 43 of title 38, United States Code.
    During the 50-plus year history of veterans' reemployment 
laws, the uniformed forces have changed, most notably in recent 
years with the emergence of greater total force 
responsibilities assumed by reserve components. At the same 
time, civilian workplace practices, particularly compensation, 
benefits, and pension practices, have changed. Veterans' 
reemployment laws have been modified over the years in an 
effort to keep pace with such changes. In addition, an overlay 
of Federal case law has developed which, among other things, 
applies the law to evolving circumstances.
    Nonetheless, by 1988, the desirability of undertaking a 
broad review of veterans' reemployment rights laws became 
apparent. An executive branch task force, comprised of 
employees of the Departments of Labor, Defense, and Justice, 
and the Office of Personnel Management, was formed to undertake 
such a review, and to formulate recommended revisions to 
veterans' reemployment rights laws. This task force developed 
recommendations and draft proposals over a 3-year period, and 
legislation to recodify veterans' reemployment rights laws was 
introduced in the 102nd Congress as a direct result of these 
task force deliberations.
    H.R. 1578 was reported on May 9, 1991 (H. Rpt. 102-56), and 
approved by the House of Representatives on May 14, 1991. The 
Senate approved the House measure on October 1, 1992, with 
amendments derived from S. 1095, which had been reported by the 
Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs on November 7, 1991 (S. 
Rpt. 102-203). On October 6, 1992, the House agreed to the 
Senate measure, but with further amendments. Differences 
between the House and Senate bills had not been resolved when 
the 102nd Congress adjourned.
    In the 103rd Congress, H.R. 995, a bill derived from H.R. 
1578 as passed by the House on October 6, 1992, was reported on 
April 28, 1993 (H. Rpt. 103-65), and approved by the House on 
May 4, 1993. In the Senate, S. 843, derived from H.R. 1578, was 
reported on July 1, 1993 (S. Rpt. 103-158), and passed by the 
Senate on November 2, 1993. On November 8, 1993, the Senate 
approved H.R. 995, as amended to substitute the text of S. 843. 
On September 13, 1994, the House approved H.R. 995, as amended, 
with a further amendment, and on September 28, 1994, the Senate 
approved H.R. 995 as so amended, clearing the measure for the 
President. Public Law 103-353, the Uniformed Services 
Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA), was 
signed into law by the President on October 13, 1994.
    Public Law 103-353 was a relatively lengthy, complex, and 
technical piece of legislation. Accordingly, the Committee 
anticipated that the need for technical and clarifying 
amendments might become apparent when the enforcing agency (the 
Department of Labor), veterans service organizations, and 
employers began to implement USERRA. Recommended amendments of 
a technical and clarifying nature were, in fact, presented to 
the Committee informally by the Department of Labor, and to the 
House Committee on Veterans' Affairs. The Ranking Minority 
Member of the House Committee, the Honorable G.V. (``Sonny'') 
Montgomery, introduced a bill, H.R. 1941, on June 28, 1995, 
which incorporated those recommended technical changes. Title 
III of H.R. 2289, as reported by the House Committee on 
Veterans' Affairs on December 11, 1995 (H. Rpt. 104-397), and 
as passed by the House on December 12, 1995, was derived from 
that bill. As indicated above, Title IV of S. 1711 is derived 
from Title III of H.R. 2289.

Committee Bill

            Section 401. Purposes
    Section 4304 of title 38, United States Code, states that 
rights specified in USERRA are terminated if the former service 
member is separated from service with a dishonorable or bad 
conduct discharge, is separated other than under honorable 
conditions as specified by regulation, or, in the case of 
commissioned officers, if the former service member is 
dismissed or dropped from the rolls in accordance with 10 
U.S.C. Sec. 1161. By necessary implication, USERRA rights are 
not terminated in circumstances of separation from the service 
under conditions other than those so specified.
    Section 4301(a)(2) states that one of the purposes of 
USERRA is to ``minimize the disruption to the lives of persons 
performing service * * * by providing for the prompt 
reemployment of such persons upon their completion of such 
service under honorable conditions * * *'' (emphasis added). 
This language might unintentionally create ambiguity with 
respect to the intent of the Congress in stating in section 
4304 that USERRA protections are terminated only under 
conditions as stated in that section and, at the same time, 
appearing to suggest in section 4301 that separation from 
service must have been ``honorable.'' More significantly 
perhaps, questions might be raised concerning when (if ever) 
separation might be less than ``under honorable conditions,'' 
and yet not be within the disqualifying circumstances specified 
in section 4304, and, if such ``in between'' circumstances 
might exist, whether or not USERRA protections are operative.
    Section 401 of the Committee bill would eliminate these 
unintended ambiguities and questions by striking the words 
``under honorable conditions'' from section 4301 of title 38. 
The Committee intends that section 4304, and that section 
alone, specifies when USERRA benefits are unavailable due to 
the character of service of the former service member.
            Section 402. Definitions
    Section 4303(16) of title 38, United States Code, defines 
``uniformed services'' and includes within that definition 
``persons designated by the President in time of war or 
emergency.'' The term ``emergency,'' as used in this context, 
has traditionally been associated with national emergencies; 
therefore, it is commonly modified by the term ``national.'' 
USERRA did not include the modifier ``national'' in its 
definition. It thereby potentially gives rise to questions 
whether a departure from traditional usage was intended and, if 
so, what scope did the Congress intend the term ``emergency'' 
to have.
    The Committee bill would add the modifier ``national'' 
prior to the term ``emergency'' in the definition of 
``uniformed services'' to preclude such confusion. The 
Committee intends that the statutory definition of those in the 
``uniformed services'' include those designated by the 
President in times of ``national emergency'' as that term is 
commonly used.
            Section 403. Discrimination against persons who serve in 
                    the uniformed services and acts of reprisal 
                    prohibited
    Section 4311(b) of title 38, United States Code, provides 
that an employer will be found to have violated the anti-
discrimination provisions of section 4311(a) if the employee's 
membership in, application for membership in, performance of 
duty in, or obligation to perform duty in the uniformed 
services is a motivating factor in the employer's action, 
unless the employer can prove that the action alleged to be 
discriminatory would have been taken in any case.
    Section 4311(c)(1) provides that an employer may not 
retaliate against persons due to certain protected activities. 
In contrast to subsection 4311(b), however, that subsection 
does not set forth the standard for finding violations of this 
anti-retaliation provision, or the burden of proof to be borne 
by employers in defending against claims of retaliation.
    The Committee bill would reorder section 4311 to specify 
the anti-discrimination protections in subsection (a), to 
specify the anti-retaliation protections in subsection (b), and 
to provide in subsection (c) that the standards and burdens of 
proof now described in subsection (b), as described above, 
would apply to both discrimination and retaliation claims.
    The Committee bill would also reconfigure current 
subsection (c)(2) as subsection (d) to clarify that both the 
anti-discrimination and anti-retaliation prohibitions in 
section 4311 apply to any position of employment, including 
positions which are only for brief, nonrecurrent periods as 
described in section 4312(d)(1)(C).
            Section 404. Reemployment rights of persons who serve in 
                    the uniformed services
    Section 4312(a) of title 38, United States Code, specifies 
the reemployment rights of persons who are ``absent from a 
position of employment by reason of service * * *'' Section 
4312(e) sets forth the timeframes within which persons eligible 
for such protections shall return to work after a period of 
service. Section 4312 currently contains no specific provision 
dealing with time off prior to performing service.
    The Congress never intended that USERRA preclude service 
personnel from leaving civilian employment so as to arrive 
timely and safely at the site of service. Accordingly, the 
Committee bill would amend section 4312(a) so that employees 
must be given the time off ``necessitated'' by service. This 
provision is consistent with current law. See Sawyer v. Swift & 
Co., 610 F.Supp. 38, 41-42 (D. Kan. 1985), rev'd on other 
grounds 836 F.2d 1257 (10th Cir. 1988).
    The protections afforded by section 4312 apply to persons 
whose cumulative service does not exceed 5 years. In defining 5 
years for this purpose, section 4312(c)(4)(B) exempts service 
``during a war or during a national emergency * * *''
    The Committee bill would amend section 4312(c)(4)(B) to 
require that for the exemption from the ``5-year rule'' to 
apply, the person affected would have to have been ordered or 
retained on active duty due to--and not merely coincident 
with--the war or national emergency.
    Section 4312(d)(1)(C) provides that an employer is not 
required to reemploy a person who leaves for service from 
employment that was for a ``brief, nonrecurrent period * * *'' 
Section 4312(d)(2)(C) refers to proceedings involving questions 
of whether employment was ``brief'' or ``nonrecurrent,'' but 
that subsection uses different phraseology in describing such 
employment from that used in subsection (d)(1)(C).
    The Committee bill would amend section 4312(d)(2)(C) to 
reflect phraseology that is consistent with that used in 
section 4312(d)(1)(C).
            Section 405. Reemployment positions
    Section 4313 of title 38, United States Code, details the 
positions to which service members are entitled upon 
reinstatement after service. Subsection 4313(a)(4) specifies 
the positions to which persons not qualified for their 
preservice or ``escalator'' positions, for reasons other than 
disability incurred in, or aggravated during, service, will be 
entitled.
    Unlike the subsections of section 4313 which precede it, 
subsection (a)(4) of section 4313 does not provide, as a last 
resort, for reemployment in a position which is the nearest 
approximation of the reemployed person's preservice or 
``escalator'' position. The Committee bill rectifies this 
unintended omission by adding such language to subsection 
4313(a)(4). It also corrects a purely technical error in that 
section.
            Section 406. Leave
    Section 4316(d) of title 38, United States Code, expressly 
allows the service member to choose to use vacation, annual, or 
similar leave with pay while on military leave. This provision 
is intended to preclude an employer from forcing a service 
member to use leave, paid or unpaid, against his or her will.
    Notwithstanding this intent, as shown in the legislative 
history of section 4316(d), see H. Rept. 103-65 at 35, it has 
come to the Committee's attention that questions have arisen 
concerning this provision. Indeed, the Committee has learned 
that some employers are reportedly attempting to require that 
service members use vacation leave while in service when to do 
so is not pursuant to a service member's request.
    The Committee bill would clarify that it is a violation of 
section 4316(d) for an employer to require a service member to 
use paid or unpaid vacation, annual, or similar leave when the 
use of such leave is not requested by the service member. This 
policy, as clarified in the Committee bill, is consistent with 
existing law. See Hilliard v. New Jersey Army Nat'l Guard, 527 
F. Supp. 405 (D. N.J. 1981); Graham v. Hall-McMillan Co., Inc., 
925 F. Supp. 437 (N.D. Miss. 1996).
            Section 407. Health plans
    Section 4317 of title 38, United States Code, contains a 
number of purely technical errors. The Committee bill corrects 
them.
            Section 408. Employee pension benefit plans.
    Section 4318(b)(2) of title 38, United States Code, 
currently allows a reemployed service member to make employee 
contributions or elective deferrals over a period ``whose 
duration is three times the period of the person's service in 
the uniformed services, not to exceed five years.''
    The language of section 4318(b)(2) is susceptible to 
misinterpretation. Specifically, it could be argued that it is 
not entirely clear whether the phrase ``not to exceed five 
years'' refers to the period of service or to the period within 
which employee contributions may be made.
    The Committee bill would amend the language of section 
4318(b)(2) to clarify that reemployed persons shall be entitled 
to make employee contributions up to 5 years after returning to 
employment.
            Section 409. Enforcement of employment or reemployment 
                    rights
    Section 4322(d) of title 38, United States Code, requires 
that the Secretary of Labor ``resolve [each] complaint'' for 
enforcement of employment or reemployment rights which is 
filed. The actual resolution of each filed complaint by the 
Secretary of Labor is a desirable goal. However, as was 
recognized by the Congress by the use of the term 
``unsuccessful'' in sections 4322(e) and 4323(a)(1), it is not 
an achievable one. The Committee bill would modify section 
4322(d) to clarify that the Secretary must ``attempt to'' 
resolve each complaint. It would also modify sections 4322(e), 
4323(a)(1), 4324(a)(1), and 4324(c)(2) to remove the value-
laden term ``unsuccessful.''
    Section 4322(e) refers to the Department of Labor's duty, 
in the event that a complaint is not resolved by that agency, 
to notify persons of their rights to pursue other remedies. In 
the case of complaints against Federal agencies, those remedies 
are specified in section 4324. Claimants may proceed under 
section 4324 against the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) 
as an employer like any Federal agency, but may also seek 
redress under section 4324 against OPM to assure the execution 
of other OPM duties, for example, its duties on behalf of 
employees of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central 
Intelligence Agency, and other agencies under section 4315(e). 
In order to clarify that OPM has broader duties beyond those of 
being an employer of its own employees, the Committee bill 
would insert the phrase ``or the Office of Personnel 
Management'' after the term ``Federal executive agency'' in 
sections 4322(e)(2), 4324(b)(1), and 4324(c)(2).
            Section 410. Enforcement of rights with respect to a State 
                    or private employer
    Section 4323(a)(2)(A) of title 38, United States Code, 
refers to a claimant's ``appl[ication] to the Secretary [of 
Labor] for assistance * * * under section 4322(c).'' The 
provision under which such a complaint might be filed before 
the Department of Labor is section 4322(a), not section 
4322(c). The Committee bill amends the citation to section 4322 
in section 4323(a)(2)(A) accordingly. The same citation error 
appears in section 4324(b)(1). The Committee bill also corrects 
that erroneous citation.
            Section 411. Enforcement of rights with respect to Federal 
                    executive agencies
    As is explained above, the Committee bill deletes a 
reference from section 4324(a)(1) of title 38, United States 
Code, to ``unsuccessful'' efforts by the Secretary of Labor to 
resolve complaints; adds a reference in sections 4322(e)(2), 
4324(b)(1), and 4324(c)(2) to the Office of Personnel 
Management; and corrects an erroneous citation to section 
4322(c) in section 4324(b)(1). The Committee bill also makes a 
purely technical correction to section 4324(c)(2) by 
substituting the word ``Office'' for ``employee''.
            Section 412. Enforcement of rights with respect to certain 
                    Federal agencies
    Section 4325(d)(1) of title 38, United States Code, 
currently allows a Federal employee to seek information from 
the Secretary of Labor concerning ``alternative employment in 
the Federal government under this chapter * * *''
    The Secretary of Labor does not maintain information 
concerning alternative Federal employment. Therefore, the 
Committee bill would strike language directing Federal 
employees to that improper source of information.
    The Committee bill also makes a purely technical correction 
to section 4325(d)(1) by substituting the term ``employees'' 
for ``employee''.
            Section 413. Conduct of investigation; subpoenas
    Section 4326(a) of title 38, United States Code, currently 
authorizes the Secretary of Labor to have reasonable access to 
the documents of any person or employer during the course of 
investigations under section 4322(d). This section does not 
currently authorize the Secretary to have reasonable access to 
persons for purposes of gathering evidence and testimony during 
the investigation.
    The Committee bill would rectify this oversight by adding 
such authority.
            Section 414. Transition rules and effective dates
    Section 8(a) of USERRA sets forth the rules of transition 
from prior veterans' reemployment laws to USERRA. Generally, 
the provisions of USERRA apply to reemployment applications 
initiated on or after December 12, 1994, and the provisions of 
prior law apply to reemployment applications initiated prior to 
December 12, 1994. Those rules apply regardless of when the 
uniformed service underlying the reemployment application began 
or ended.
    The Committee has been informed that the above transition 
rules could work a hardship on persons training under orders 
issued pursuant to section 502(f) of title 32, United States 
Code, which provides the authority for the voluntary or 
involuntary activation of National Guard personnel, if that 
service exceeds the basic 5-year service limit imposed by 
section 4312(c) of USERRA. This possibility is especially 
troubling in light of the Supreme Court decision in King v. St. 
Vincent's Hospital, 502 U.S. 215 (1991), where the Court held 
that, under the prior law, there was no service limitation with 
respect to service performed under orders issued pursuant to 32 
U.S.C. Sec. 502(f).
    The Committee bill would rectify the foregoing situation by 
providing that all service performed under orders issued 
pursuant to section 502(f) up to December 12, 1994, would be 
considered under the provisions of prior law for service 
limitation purposes, while all such service performed on or 
after December 12, 1994, would be considered under the 
provisions of USERRA, regardless of when the service began. 
Thus, for example, a service member who was ordered to active 
duty for training under orders issued pursuant to section 
502(f) on January 15, 1990, and who was released from duty on 
January 30, 1996, would have the period January 15, 1990-
December 11, 1994, considered under the service limitation 
provisions of prior law, while the period December 12, 1994-
January 30, 1996, would be considered under the service 
limitation provisions of USERRA. The two time frames would then 
be combined to determine if the service limitations had been 
exceeded.
    Section 8(c)(2) of USERRA provided that the provisions of 
section 4316 of title 38, United States Code relating to 
insurance coverage would apply to ``a person on active duty * * 
*'' Since the term ``service in the uniformed service'' applies 
to active duty service and other classes of service, the 
Committee bill would replace ``active duty'' with the phrase 
``person serving a period of service in the armed forces.''

                             Cost Estimate

    In compliance with paragraph 11(a) of Rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee, based on 
information supplied by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), 
estimates that the costs resulting from the enactment of the 
Committee bill (as compared to costs under current law), as 
scored against the current CBO baseline during the remainder of 
FY 1996 and for the first 5 years following enactment, would 
have no effect on direct spending during fiscal years 1996 
through 1998, and would decrease Federal direct spending by $1 
million during each year in fiscal years 1999 through 2002. The 
bill would not affect the budgets of State and local 
governments. The cost estimate provided by CBO, setting forth a 
detailed breakdown of costs follows:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                    Washington, DC, August 1, 1996.
Hon. Alan K. Simpson,
Chairman, Committee on Veterans' Affairs,
U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for S. 1711, the Veterans' 
Benefits Improvement Act of 1996, as ordered reported by the 
Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs on July 24, 1996.
    The bill would affect direct spending and thus would be 
subject to pay-as-you-go procedures under section 252 of the 
Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them.
            Sincerely,
                                         June E. O'Neill, Director.
    Attachment.

               congressional budget office cost estimate

    1. Bill number: S. 1711.
    2. Bill title: Veterans' Benefits Improvement Act of 1996.
    3. Bill status: As ordered reported by the Senate Committee 
on Veterans' Affairs on July 24, 1996.
    4. Bill purpose: This bill would alter certain veterans' 
benefits by limiting compensation for incarcerated veterans, 
extending authorities for certain educational and housing 
benefits, and authorizing appropriations for Homeless Veteran's 
Reintegration Projects.
    5. Estimated cost to the Federal Government: The table 
below summarizes the budgetary effects of the bill. It shows 
the effects of the bill on direct spending and authorizations 
of appropriations.

                                    [By fiscal year, in millions of dollars]                                    
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                  1996   1997   1998   1999   2000   2001   2002
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                 DIRECT SPENDING                                                
                                                                                                                
Proposed Changes:                                                                                               
    Estimated budget authority.................................      0      0      0     -1     -1     -1     -1
    Estimated outlays..........................................      0      0      0     -1     -1     -1     -1
                                                                                                                
                                    SPENDING SUBJECT TO APPROPRIATIONS ACTION                                   
Proposed Changes:                                                                                               
     Estimated authorization level.............................      0     12     11      0      0      0      0
    Estimated outlays..........................................      0      3      8      9      3      0      0
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The costs of the bill would fall under budget function 700, 
Veterans' Affairs.
    6. Basis of estimate: The estimate assumes enactment of the 
bill by October 1, 1996, and appropriation of the authorized 
amounts for each fiscal year. CBO used historical spending 
rates for estimating outlays.

Direct spending

    The bill contains several provisions that would affect 
direct spending.
    Clothing Allowance for Incarcerated Veterans. Under current 
law, VA pays veterans with service-connected disabilities a 
clothing allowance to accommodate prosthetic devices and other 
medical needs. The average allowance in 1995 was $490. Section 
307 would reduce on a pro rata basis such payments to veterans 
who are incarcerated. Using recent incarceration rates for 
inmates of both federal and state prisons, CBO estimates that 
this provision could involve over 1,000 veterans and save about 
$1 million a year as shown in the table below.

                                    [By fiscal years, in millions of dollars]                                   
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                     1996     1997     1998     1999     2000     2001     2002 
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                 DIRECT SPENDING                                                
                                                                                                                
Spending Under Current Law for Veterans                                                                         
 Compensation:                                                                                                  
    Estimated budget authority...................   14,979   15,211   15,511   15,805   16,067   16,335   16,606
    Estimated outlays............................   13,794   15,222   15,451   15,780   17,198    5,161   16,583
Proposed Changes:                                                                                               
    Estimated budget authority...................        0       -1       -1       -1       -1       -1       -1
    Estimated outlays............................        0       -1       -1       -1       -1       -1       -1
Spending Under the Bill:                                                                                        
    Estimated budget authority...................   14,979   15,210   15,510   15,804   16,066   16,334   16,605
    Estimated Outlays............................   13,794   15,221   15,450   15,779   17,197   15,160   16,582
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Alternative Teaching Certificate Program. Section 305 would 
extend VA's authority to pay Montgomery GI Bill benefits to 
veterans who train in state-approved certification programs 
from September 30, 1996, to December 31, 1998. Training usually 
occurs in one of three settings--universities, service centers, 
or school districts. This bill would provide benefits to 
students who train outside of a university setting.
    CBO assumes that the number of people training in these 
programs will remain steady (about 380 per year), and that 
enrollment will continue to be evenly divided between 
university and other settings. Also, CBO assumes that 
participants would train for an average period of about 10 
months. Based on a benefit rate for full-time students of about 
$400 a month of training, the bill would increase costs by 
about $1 million a year for 1998 and 1999. Because there would 
be no more than three months of training for a cohort in 2000, 
the budgetary impact in that year would be insignificant.

                                    [By fiscal years, in millions of dollars]                                   
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                           1996    1997    1998    1999    2000    2001    2002 
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                 DIRECT SPENDING                                                
                                                                                                                
Spending Under Current Law for the Montgomery GI Bill:                                                          
    Estimated budget authority..........................   1,360   1,369   1,486   1,556   1,546   1,487   1,488
    Estimated outlays...................................   1,290   1,399   1,486   1,556   1,566   1,467   1,488
Proposed Changes:                                                                                               
    Estimated budget authority..........................       0       1       1   (\1\)       0       0       0
    Estimated outlays...................................       0       1       1   (\1\)       0       0       0
Spending Under the Bill:                                                                                        
    Estimated budget authority..........................   1,360   1,370   1,487   1,556   1,546   1,487   1,488
    Estimated outlays...................................   1,360   1,400   1,487   1,556   1,566   1,467  1,488 
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Less than $500,000.                                                                                         

    Other Provisions. Several provisions would affect direct 
spending, but would not have a significant budgetary impact. 
Title II of the bill would alter certain veterans life 
insurance programs. Section 301 would start the Vietnam era on 
February 28, 1961, rather than August 4, 1964, and make a small 
number of veterans who served in the Vietnam theater of 
operations eligible for certain pension and compensation 
benefits at an insignificant cost. Sections 308 and 309 would 
address representation before the Board of Veterans Appeals and 
provision of copies of the Board's decisions. Sections 303 and 
304 would clarify eligibility for burial benefits.

Spending subject to appropriations action

    Two provisions would have measurable costs that would be 
subject to appropriations action. These provisions would 
authorize a commission on transitional assistance and 
appropriations for a job training program for homeless 
veterans.
    Commission on Transitional Assistance. Section 105 would 
establish a commission to evaluate federal programs that assist 
members of the Armed Forces and veterans in readjusting to 
civilian life. CBO estimates that the cost for the commission 
would be about $2 million in 1997 and $1 million in 1998. These 
funds would be made available from amounts appropriated for the 
Department of Defense.
    The commission would be composed of 12 members, who would 
be appointed within 90 days of the effective date of the bill. 
Each commissioner would be compensated at a rate equal to Level 
IV of the Executive Schedule. Also, the Chairman would be 
authorized to appoint an executive director whose rate of pay 
could not exceed Level V of the Executive Schedule.
    Authority for the Homeless Veterans' Reintegration 
Projects. The bill would authorize appropriations for the 
Homeless Veterans Job Training Program. The provision specifies 
an authorization level of $10 million a year for 1997 and 1998.
    Other Provisions. Several provisions would affect 
authorization of appropriations, but would not have a 
significant budgetary impact. Section 302 would extend the 
termination date for the Advisory Committee on Minority Affairs 
by two years, from December 31, 1997, to December 31, 1999. 
Section 306 would authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs 
to refinance loans made under the Native American Veterans 
Direct Loan Program.
    7. Pay-as-you-go considerations: The Balanced Budget and 
Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 sets up pay-as-you-go 
procedures for legislation affecting direct spending or 
receipts through 1998. The bill would have the following pay-
as-you-go impact:

                                                                                                                
                                    [By fiscal years, in millions of dollars]                                   
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                       1996            1997            1998     
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Change in outlays...............................................               0               0               0
Change in receipts..............................................  ..............           (\1\)  ..............
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Not applicable.                                                                                             

    8. Estimated cost to State, local, and tribal governments: 
S. 1711 contains no intergovernmental mandates as defined in 
the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (Public Law 104-4) and 
would have no effects on the budgets of state, local, or tribal 
governments.
    9. Estimated impact on the private sector: This bill would 
impose no new federal private-sector mandates as defined in 
Public Law 104-4.
    10. Previous CBO estimates: On May 9, 1996, CBO prepared 
estimates for H.R. 3373 and H.R. 2843, bills having provisions 
on veterans' insurance programs similar to the provisions in 
this bill. On February 6, 1996, CBO also prepared an estimate 
for H.R. 2850, which has the same effect as the provision in 
this bill that clarifies burial eligibility for minors. On June 
21, 1996, CBO prepared a cost estimate for H.R. 3673, which 
contains a provision like section 307 in this bill that limits 
the clothing allowance for incarcerated veterans. H.R. 3763 
also contains a provision to extend the authorization for 
homeless veterans reintegration projects for three years. On 
June 21, 1996, CBO prepared a cost estimate for H.R. 3674, 
which contains a provision to extend permanently education 
benefits for alternative teacher certificate programs. Section 
305 of S. 1711 extends this program to December 31, 1998.
    11. Estimate prepared by: Federal cost estimate: Mary Helen 
Petrus and Victoria Fraider. Impact on State, local, and tribal 
governments: Marc Nicole. Impact on the private sector: Ellen 
Breslin Davidson.
    12. Estimate approved by: Paul N. Van de Water, Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis.

                      Regulatory Impact Statement

    In compliance with paragraph 11(b) of Rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee on Veterans' 
Affairs has made an evaluation of the regulatory impact which 
would be incurred in carrying out the Committee bill. The 
Committee finds that the Committee bill would not entail any 
significant regulation of individuals or businesses or result 
in any significant impact on the personal privacy of any 
individuals, and that the paperwork resulting from enactment 
would be minimal.

                 Tabulation of Votes Cast in Committee

    In compliance with paragraph 7 of rule XXVI of the Standing 
Rules of the Senate, the following is a tabulation of votes 
cast in person or by proxy by members of the Committee on 
Veterans' Affairs at its July 24, 1996, meeting. On that date, 
the Committee, by unanimous voice vote, ordered S. 1711 
reported favorably to the Senate.

                             Agency Reports


 statement of charles l. cragin, chairman, board of veterans' appeals, 
                     department of veterans affairs


    Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:
    I am pleased to be here today to present the views of the 
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) on several bills. Those 
bills are:
          * * * * * * *
          S. 281, a bill to change the beginning date of the 
        Vietnam era for veterans' benefits purposes;
          S. 749, a bill to revise the authority relating to 
        the VA Center for Minority Veterans and Center for 
        Women Veterans;
          * * * * * * *
          S. 994, a bill to clarify the eligibility of certain 
        minors for burial in national cemeteries;
          S. 995, the ``Veterans' Benefits Reform Act of 
        1995'';
          S. 996, the ``Veterans' Insurance Reform Act of 
        1995'';
          * * * * * * *
          S. 1342, a bill to authorize the Secretary of 
        Veterans Affairs to make loans to refinance loans made 
        to veterans under the Native American Veterans Direct 
        Loan Program;
          S. 1711, a bill to establish a commission to evaluate 
        the programs of the Federal Government that assist 
        members of the Armed Forces and veterans in readjusting 
        to civilian life;
          * * * * * * *
          S. 1751, a bill to revise the procedure for providing 
        claimants and their representatives with copies of 
        Board of Veterans' Appeals decisions and to protect the 
        right of claimants to appoint veterans service 
        organizations as their representatives in claims before 
        VA;
          * * * * * * *
S. 281
    Current 38 U.S.C. Sec. 101(29) defines the term ``Vietnam 
era'' for purposes of veterans' benefits as the period 
beginning on August 5, 1964, and ending on May 7, 1975. S. 281 
would change the beginning date of that period from August 5, 
1964, to December 22, 1961.
    Expansion of the Vietnam era as contemplated by S. 281 
would make veterans separated from the service between December 
22, 1961, and August 5, 1964, and their survivors, potentially 
eligible for veterans' benefits based on wartime service, 
regardless of whether the veterans actually served in Vietnam. 
The primary impact of the change would be to make veterans or 
their survivors potentially eligible for nonservice-connected 
disability and death pension benefits.
    VA's preliminary estimates indicate that S. 281 would have 
significant paygo costs which would require offsets under the 
Budget Enforcement Act. We estimate the increased benefit cost 
of this measure would be $87.2 million in Fiscal Year 1997 and 
$546.2 million for the five-year period Fiscal Year 1997 
through Fiscal Year 2001. In addition, we estimate enactment of 
the bill would result in increased administrative costs of $3.9 
million over the five-year period Fiscal Year 1997 through 
Fiscal Year 2001. In view of these cost implications, we cannot 
support this bill.
S. 749
    S. 749 would revise the statutory authority for VA's Center 
for Minority Veterans and Center for Women Veterans. It would 
make three changes.
    First, the bill would permit the Director of the Center for 
Minority Veterans and the Director of the Center for Women 
Veterans to be career appointees in the Senior Executive 
Service (SES). Currently, these Directors may be only noncareer 
SES appointees. VA supports this change because it gives us 
greater flexibility in selecting those officials and 
potentially allows for greater continuity in the program.
    Second, S. 749 would impose two new duties on the Director 
of the Center for Minority Veterans, thereby making that 
official's duties parallel with those of the Director of the 
Center for Women Veterans. It would require that the Director 
of the Center for Minority Veterans advise the Secretary on 
VA's efforts to have minority veterans included in clinical 
research and on medical knowledge that is or may be pertinent 
to minority veterans. It would also require the Director to 
provide support and administrative services to the Advisory 
Committee on Minority Veterans. VA has no objections to those 
changes.
    Third, S. 749 would require the Advisory Committee on Women 
Veterans and the Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans to 
oversee the activities of the corresponding Center, to monitor 
and evaluate the Center's activities, and to report the results 
of this evaluation to the Secretary upon request. VA strongly 
opposes these amendments relating to the monitoring and 
evaluation of the Centers' activities and recommends that this 
section be deleted from the bill. To impose direct programmatic 
oversight duties would exceed the appropriate role of advisory 
committees. Already these external committees have general 
responsibility for annually reviewing and providing 
recommendations (to the Secretary) on issues and VA programs 
and policies affecting the relevant veteran populations.
    The bill would also extend the requirement to have an 
Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans through December 31, 
1999. VA supports this provision.
          * * * * * * *
S. 994
    Among those persons eligible under 38 U.S.C. Sec. 2402 for 
burial in a national cemetery are the minor children of 
veterans and certain other persons eligible for burial in a 
national cemetery. The statute does not define the term ``minor 
child.''
    When Congress enacted the National Cemeteries Act of 1973, 
transferring from the Department of the Army to VA the 
responsibility for operating national cemeteries, it reenacted 
without change the prior title 24 provisions regarding 
eligibility for burial. The Department of the Army, in 
exercising its authority, had interpreted title 24's ``minor 
child'' provision as including children under the age of 21 
years. Because Congress indicated an intent that similar 
eligibility rules should apply under VA's management of the 
National Cemetery System, VA's regulation at 38 C.F.R. 
Sec. 1.620(g) governing burial eligibility generally defines a 
minor child as being under 21 years of age. In keeping with the 
general definition of a ``child'' for title 38 purposes, the 
age limit is 23 years if the individual was pursuing a course 
of instruction at an approved educational institution.
    This situation occasionally causes confusion, since the 
general title 38 definition of ``child'' is in one significant 
respect more restrictive than the regulatory definition of 
``minor child'' for purposes of burial eligibility. Under 38 
U.S.C. Sec. 101(4), an individual is generally not considered a 
``child'' after reaching age 18 unless, as indicated above, the 
individual is pursuing an education. We believe that Congress 
did not intend to restrict burial eligibility in this manner. 
Accordingly, we have proposed that the statute governing burial 
eligibility be amended to incorporate the regulatory definition 
of ``minor child.''
    Because enactment of our proposal would only technically 
clarify the law as it is currently being applied, there would 
be no attendant costs or savings. We therefore support 
enactment of S. 994.
S. 995
    S. 995, the ``Veterans' Benefits Reform Act of 1995,'' is a 
VA proposal to restrict payment of the clothing allowance in 
the case of incarcerated veterans and to create for pension 
purposes a presumption of permanent and total disability for 
veterans over age 65 who are patients in a nursing home.
    Section 2 of the bill would amend chapter 53 of title 38, 
United States Code, to restrict the payment of a clothing 
allowance to incarcerated veterans who are furnished clothing 
without charge by a penal institution. Under 38 U.S.C. 
Sec. 1162, VA is required to pay a clothing allowance to each 
veteran who, because of a service-connected disability, wears 
or uses a prosthetic or orthopedic appliance which tends to 
wear out or tear the veteran's clothing, or who uses medication 
prescribed for a skin condition which is due to a service-
connected disability and which irreparably damages the 
veteran's outergarments. Although 38 U.S.C. Sec. 5313 limits 
payment of compensation to certain incarcerated veterans, that 
statute does not restrict payment of the clothing allowance to 
them, even though they generally do not pay for their 
institutional clothing.
    A clothing allowance for incarcerated veterans is 
unnecessary where they receive institutional clothing at no 
personal expense. We therefore support legislation to prohibit 
payment of the clothing allowance to veterans who are 
incarcerated in excess of 60 days and are furnished clothing 
without charge by the institution in which they are 
incarcerated. Under this bill, the annual award would be 
reduced on a pro rata basis for each day of incarceration. This 
provision would reduce direct spending by less than $500,000 
annually.
    Section 3 of S. 995 would amend 38 U.S.C. Sec. 1502(a) to 
create a presumption of permanent and total disability for 
pension purposes for veterans 65 years of age or older who are 
patients in a nursing home. Section 8002 of the Omnibus Budget 
Reconciliation Act of 1990, 104 Stat. 1388-342, eliminated the 
presumption of total disability for pension purposes for 
persons 65 years of age and older. As a result, a VA rating 
board currently must evaluate disability before pension can be 
paid to any veteran, regardless of age or physical condition.
    Enactment of this bill would reduce the time necessary to 
process disability-pension claims because, once a veteran's age 
and status as a nursing-home patient are confirmed, it would no 
longer be necessary to develop and evaluate medical evidence 
regarding the veteran's disability.
    Enactment of S. 995 would not affect the integrity of VA's 
pension program because an individual 65 years old who is a 
patient of a nursing home would almost certainly meet the 
current requirements of section 1502(a), which provides that a 
person is considered to be permanently and totally disabled if 
he or she is unemployable as a result of disability reasonably 
certain to continue throughout the life of the disabled person 
or suffers from a disease or disorder which justifies a 
determination of permanent, total disability. In addition, VA 
could adopt procedures to reevaluate entitlement to pension if 
a notice of discharge is received from a veteran whose pension 
is based on age and confinement in a nursing home.
    Enactment of this bill would result in estimated annual 
administrative cost savings in excess of $300,000 over the next 
five fiscal years. We support enactment of this bill.
S. 996
    S. 996, the ``Veterans' Insurance Reform Act of 1995,'' is 
another VA proposal. It would change the name of the 
Servicemen's Group Life Insurance (SGLI) program to 
Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance, merge the Retired 
Reservist SGLI program into the Veterans' Group Life Insurance 
(VGLI) program, extend VGLI coverage to members of the Ready 
Reserve of a uniformed service who separate with less than 20 
years of service, permit an insured to convert a VGLI policy to 
an individual policy of life insurance with a commercial 
insurance company at any time, and permit an insured to convert 
a SGLI policy to an individual policy of life insurance with a 
commercial company upon separation from service. We support 
enactment of this bill.
    Section 2 of S. 996 would amend title 38, United States 
Code, to change the name of the Servicemen's Group Life 
Insurance program to Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance to 
reflect gender neutrality.
    Section 3 of the bill would merge the existing Retired 
Reservist SGLI program into the VGLI program. Currently, when 
members of the Ready Reserve retire with 20 years of service or 
are transferred to the Retired Reserve under the temporary 
special retirement authority provided in 10 U.S.C. Sec. 1331a, 
they may continue their SGLI coverage as Retired Reservist SGLI 
until they receive their retired pay or reach age 61, whichever 
comes first. Members of the Ready Reserve who retire with 20 
years of service also have the option to convert their SGLI 
policy to a commercial life insurance policy. Section 3 of S. 
996 would discontinue the Retired Reservist SGLI program and 
instead place the insured Retired Reservists in the VGLI 
program. This change would benefit Retired Reservists by making 
available the lifetime coverage provided under the VGLI 
program, by giving them a discount when premiums are paid 
annually, by allowing them a longer reinstatement period (five 
years instead of three years), by permitting them to convert 
their coverage to commercial policies, and by allowing them to 
pay their premiums by allotment from their retired pay.
    We recognize that Retired Reservists who are over 44 years 
of age would have to pay increased premiums for the lifetime 
VGLI coverage. For example, the monthly premium for $100,000 of 
SGLI coverage for Retired Reservists who are age 50-54 is 
currently $56, and the monthly premium for $100,000 of VGLI 
coverage for Retired Reservists who are age 50-54 would be $65. 
However, the SGLI Retired Reserve premium rates are currently 
insufficient to cover the cost of death claims in the program. 
The actuarial staffs of both VA and the primary insurer have 
agreed that these premium rates should be increased to the 
level of VGLI premium rates as of July 1, 1996. This increase 
would reduce the subsidy required for the SGLI Retired 
Reservist program from the parent SGLI program. Therefore, even 
without enactment of this bill, the SGLI Retired Reservist 
premium rates will be increased to the same level as the VGLI 
rates. Enactment of S. 996 would not adversely affect any other 
insured member or the SGLI or VGLI program and would involve no 
cost to the Government.
    Section 3 would also extend the benefit of VGLI lifetime 
coverage to members of the Ready Reserve of a uniformed 
service, whom the Department of Defense considers more 
important than ever to our national security. When the 
Veterans' Insurance Act of 1974 was enacted, Congress stated 
that members of the Ready Reserve who separate with less than 
20 years of service would not be eligible to convert their SGLI 
coverage to VGLI, unless they are disabled and uninsurable at 
the time of release. This bill would involve no cost to the 
Government, and it would not adversely affect the SGLI or VGLI 
program.
    Section 4 of the bill would expand the opportunities of 
SGLI and VGLI insureds to convert their coverage to commercial 
life insurance. VGLI coverage is provided under a five-year, 
level-premium, term plan that is renewable every five years for 
life. Premiums are based on the insured's age at the time of 
issue or renewal and are increased accordingly at the beginning 
of each five-year renewal period. Although term policies 
provide low-cost coverage for younger insureds, term insurance 
becomes very expensive for older insureds. Under the current 
law, VGLI insureds have the option of converting their VGLI 
coverage to permanent life coverage with a commercial insurance 
company at the end of each five-year term period. A permanent 
life insurance policy, which provides coverage at a level 
premium throughout the premium-paying period of the policy, is 
an alternative to the ever-increasing cost of term coverage. 
Since the cost of the converted policy increases as the 
insured's age increases, requiring insureds to delay conversion 
until the end of the five-year period increases the cost. For 
example, if a VGLI insured converts his or her policy at age 
41, the monthly premium for $100,000 of whole life coverage 
would be $170. However, under S. 996, if the insured were 
allowed to convert at age 36, rather than waiting until the end 
of the five-year renewal period, the premium would be $133.
    For the same reason, S. 996 would also extend this 
conversion privilege to SGLI insureds at the time of their 
separation from service. Currently, SGLI insureds must first 
convert to VGLI and thereafter can convert their VGLI policy to 
a commercial permanent life policy at the end of their five-
year VGLI period. This wait increases the cost of conversion to 
a commercial life policy as discussed above.
    Expansion of the conversion privilege would increase the 
life insurance options of our insured veterans and lower their 
cost of conversion to a commercial permanent life policy. We do 
not anticipate a negative effect on the SGLI or VGLI program or 
any cost to the Government if this bill is enacted.
          * * * * * * *
S. 1342
    S. 1342 would amend the VA pilot program for direct loans 
to Native American veterans living on trust land. Under this 
bill, VA would be authorized to refinance a loan previously 
made to a Native American veteran under this program with a new 
loan at a lower interest rate.
    VA supports the concept of this bill. The pilot program was 
intended to give Native American veterans living on trust land 
the same access to VA housing benefits as other veterans. This 
amendment would extend the important interest-rate-reduction 
refinancing loan benefit to these veterans.
    VA has two technical concerns regarding this bill. First, 
VA does not believe that Native American veterans should be 
able to request a refinancing loan every time interest rates 
drop slightly. Under the guaranteed loan program, the cost of 
refinancing a loan effectively limits such refinancings to 
situations where interest rates have significantly decreased 
(normally 2 percentage points). Since loans made by VA under 
the pilot program are not likely to involve the same closing 
costs as guaranteed loans made by private lenders, VA believes 
the bill should limit a veteran to one refinancing loan. In the 
alternative, VA would propose that the new loan must bear an 
interest rate that is at least 2 percent per annum lower than 
the interest rate of the loan being refinanced.
    Our second concern relates to entitlement. Under the 
guaranteed loan program, a veteran may obtain an interest-rate-
reduction refinancing loan even though he or she has no loan 
entitlement available for use (having exhausted the entitlement 
to obtain the first loan). As written, the bill would not 
permit a Native American veteran to obtain an interest-rate-
reduction refinancing loan unless the veteran had sufficient 
loan entitlement available for use. That would be unlikely in 
most cases. Accordingly, we suggest that ``paragraph (3)'' on 
lines 12 and 16 of page 2 of the bill be revised to read 
``paragraphs (2) and (3)''.
Additional housing loan items
    VA would urge the Committee to favorably consider two 
additional housing loan items. First, as part of the 
Reinvention of Government initiative, VA recommended 
legislation to permit VA to contract competitively for 
servicing of its loan portfolio. Our proposal is contained in 
section 203 of S. 1345. VA believes it is in the best interests 
of the Government to contract out this function. Several 
provisions of existing law, however, preclude VA from 
privatizing this function in the most effective manner. 
Although this will have a paygo cost of about $4 million a 
year, we expect this to be offset by FTE reductions and other 
discretionary savings of around $8 million a year. It makes 
good management sense, and we urge the enactment of our 
proposal.
    Second, Public Law No. 104-110 extended the sunset for VA's 
enhanced vendee loan sales under 38 U.S.C. Sec. 3720(h) until 
only December 31, 1996. VA's experience is that the private 
securities market where VA must sell its loans prefers a 
guaranty on the certificates issued by the trust in addition to 
a guaranty on the underlying loans. This enhancement gives VA 
the best return without significantly changing VA's exposure to 
loss. Accordingly, we urge that this authority be made 
permanent.
    Permanent extension of this authority would have a paygo 
saving of about $5 million per year.
S. 1711
    S. 1711 would establish a 12-member Commission on Service 
Members and Veterans Transition Assistance funded by the 
Department of Defense to review programs designed to assist 
members of the Armed Forces in making the transition to 
civilian life, evaluate proposals for improving those programs, 
and make recommendations to Congress to enhance the value and 
ensure the continued use of those programs. The objective of S. 
1711 in establishing this Commission is commendable. However, 
since the primary responsibility for supporting the Commission 
will be with the Department of Defense, VA defers to that 
department in this matter.
          * * * * * * *
S. 1751
    S. 1751 would amend title 38, United States Code, to revise 
the procedures for providing claimants and their 
representatives with copies of Board decisions and to protect 
the right of claimants to appoint veterans service 
organizations as their representatives in claims before VA. 
This legislation would permit the Board to provide copies of 
its appellate decisions to claimants'' representatives 
reasonably and efficiently. It would also permit VA to continue 
a longstanding method of claimant representation which has 
proven efficient and beneficial to claimants.
    Section 7104(e) of title 38, United States Code, specifies 
that ``the Board shall promptly mail a copy of its written 
decision to the claimant and the claimant's authorized 
representative (if any).'' In the past, the Board's method of 
``mailing'' a copy of a decision to a representative depended 
on where the representative was located. For a representative 
at the Board's offices in Washington, D.C., a contractor hand-
delivered the Board decision to the representative. For a 
representative at a VA regional office, the Board gave the 
decision to the contractor, who ``bundled'' mail for the 58 VA 
regional offices and delivered the bundles to the United States 
Postal Service. After the United States Postal Service 
delivered the bundles to the VA regional offices, each regional 
office sorted its bundled mail and distributed any Board 
decision to the appropriate representative at that regional 
office. For a representative not at an office at a VA facility, 
the Board mailed its decision directly to the representative.
    This past practice made sense considering the number of 
Board decisions and the number of representatives who have 
offices at VA facilities. The Board decides more than 30,000 
cases per year. In more than 85 percent of those cases, one of 
the various veterans service organizations represents the 
claimant. Often, as authorized by 38 U.S.C. Sec. 5902(a)(2), 
the service organization occupies free office space in either a 
VA regional office or at the Board's offices in Washington, 
D.C. Thus, the Board's past practice of distributing decisions 
to representatives was flexible and efficient.
    This past practice, however, was invalidated by the Court 
of Veterans Appeals. In Trammell v. Brown, 6 Vet. App. 181 
(1994), the Court of Veterans Appeals held that an apparently 
late notice of appeal was timely filed because the Board's 
decision-distribution procedure did not accord with 38 U.S.C. 
Sec. 7104(e). In Davis v. Brown, 7 Vet. App. 298 (1995), the 
court held that the phrase ``the Board shall promptly mail'' in 
section 7104(e) means that the Board decision ``must be 
correctly addressed, stamped with the proper postage, and 
delivered directly by the [Board] into the custody of the U.S. 
Postal Service.'' Id. at 303. The court then concluded that the 
apparently late notice of appeal in Davis was timely filed. Id. 
at 304.
    The court's interpretation of section 7104(e) disrupts 
logistical approaches the Board has developed over the years to 
provide representatives with copies of its decisions. Indeed, 
it leads to some absurd results. For example, instead of a 
Board employee (or a contractor) simply walking down the hall 
to deliver a Board decision to a service organization 
representative on the same floor, now the employee, not a 
contractor, must place the decision in an envelope, affix 
proper postage, and deliver it directly into the United States 
Postal Service's custody. We understand that the Postal Service 
takes this mail to Maryland for sorting, then returns it to the 
District of Columbia for delivery. The Postal Service delivers 
VA mail to the VA building across the street from the Board's 
offices, where a contractor sorts it for internal delivery. The 
contractor must then carry the Board decision across the street 
to the building housing the Board and the service organization 
representative and deliver it to the representative.
    The Board should be permitted to provide representatives 
with copies of its decisions in a sensible manner. Thus, we 
proposed this legislation to permit the Board to ``send'' its 
decisions to claimants and their representatives by any means 
reasonably calculated to provide them with a copy of the 
decision within the same time a copy of the decision sent by 
first-class mail would be expected to reach them.
    Section 1(b) of S. 1751 would also make a corresponding 
change to 38 U.S.C. Sec. 7266(a)(1), which currently provides 
that, to obtain review by the Court of Veterans Appeals, a 
person adversely affected by a final Board decision must file a 
notice of appeal within 120 days after the date on which notice 
of the decision is mailed pursuant to section 7104(e). Our 
proposed amendment would require that a notice of appeal be 
filed within 120 days after the date on which notice of the 
Board decision is sent pursuant to section 7104(e) to the 
representative or, if none, to the claimant.
    Current law authorizes the Secretary to recognize 
individuals to prepare, present, and prosecute claims for VA 
benefits on behalf of claimants. Section 5904(a) of title 38, 
United States Code, authorizes the Secretary to recognize any 
individual as an agent or attorney for the preparation, 
presentation, and prosecution of VA benefit claims. Section 
5903 of title 38, United States Code, authorizes the Secretary 
to recognize any individual for the preparation, presentation, 
and prosecution of any particular VA benefit claim. In 
addition, section 5902(a)(1) of title 38, United States Code, 
authorizes the Secretary to recognize representatives of 
certain veterans service organizations in the preparation, 
presentation, and prosecution of VA benefit claims.
    With respect to representatives of veterans service 
organizations, VA's policy and practice has been to recognize 
any accredited representative of an approved service 
organization if a claimant files a power of attorney in favor 
of the organization itself, a specific office of the 
organization, or a particular representative of the 
organization. This practice affords several advantages. First, 
it allows different representatives of an organization to 
handle a particular claim at different stages of the claim, 
without the claimant having to file a separate power of 
attorney for each representative. For example, a representative 
of an organization at a VA field office can prosecute a claim 
there and initiate an appeal. Another representative of the 
same organization at the organization's national office can 
then argue the claim on appeal before the Board in Washington, 
D.C. Second, it allows different representatives of the 
organization to handle a particular claim at different 
locations and times, without the claimant having to file 
another power of attorney. For example, if a claimant moves 
from New York to Los Angeles while his or her claim is pending, 
a representative of an organization at a local office in New 
York can initially handle the claim there, and another 
representative of the organization at a local office in Los 
Angeles can subsequently pursue the claim at that location. 
Similarly, a second representative of an organization can 
assume responsibility for the prosecution of a claim if the 
original representative of that organization moves, becomes 
incapacitated, or leaves the organization. Third, the practice 
allows VA to notify a claimant's representative in a manner 
best suited to assure notice is received. For example, the 
Board can send a copy of its decision to a representative of a 
given organization in Washington, D.C., as well as to a local 
representative at a field station, thereby doubling the 
likelihood that the claimant's representative will actually 
receive notice.
    Cases recently decided by the Court of Veterans Appeals are 
imperiling VA's longstanding practice of recognizing any 
accredited representative of a veterans service organization in 
a particular claim. In Leo v. Brown, 8 Vet. App. 410 (1995), 
the court again held that an apparently late notice of appeal 
was timely filed because the Board's decision-distribution 
procedure did not accord with 38 U.S.C. Sec. 7104(e). In that 
case, the claimant executed a power-of-attorney form in which, 
in the space for designation of a representative, he entered 
the American Legion and the address of the Greenville, South 
Carolina, Veterans Affairs Office, where the American Legion 
had a local representative. The Greenville office stated that 
it had no record of having received a copy of the Board's 
decision on the veteran's claim. The court ruled that actual 
receipt of a copy of the decision by the American Legion's 
national office in Washington, D.C. did not cure the failure to 
mail a copy to the claimant's designated representative, 
``i.e., the Greenville, South Carolina, office.''
    We are concerned that the court may go further and hold 
that, based on the plain meaning of 38 U.S.C. Sec. 5902(a)(1), 
a claimant may appoint only an individual, not an organization, 
to prepare, present, and prosecute a claim before VA on the 
claimant's behalf. Such a holding would play havoc with the 
traditional role of veterans service organizations in the claim 
process and inject additional technical demands into that 
process. If a claimant could appoint only an individual, the 
claimant would have to file another power of attorney each time 
it became necessary or expedient for another accredited 
representative to assist with his or her claim. VA could not 
allow another representative of the same organization access to 
the claimant's files or mail another representative a copy of a 
Board decision without risking violation of the Privacy Act. 
Under the Leo decision, similar problems would frequently arise 
in the cases of claimants who designate a particular office of 
an organization on their power-of-attorney forms.
    A recent survey at the Board showed that 79 percent of 
appellants who designated a veterans service organization on 
their power-of-attorney form (which, as noted above, occurs in 
more than 85 percent of the 30,000 cases that pass through the 
Board each year) designated only the organization, not a 
specific office or an individual representative of the 
organization. Thus, if the court were to invalidate VA's 
practice of recognizing organizations rather than individuals, 
it would cast doubt on the validity and meaning of more than 
25,000 powers of attorney in cases coming before the Board 
alone over one year. It would delay decisions on numerous 
claims while VA tried to clarify which individual 
representative, if any, each appellant wanted to represent him 
or her.
    The impact on the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) 
would be even greater. In 1994, VBA completed action on 
2,127,265 compensation and pension claims. As of December 31, 
1994, national veterans service organizations represented 
approximately 36 percent of the beneficiaries receiving monthly 
VA compensation or pension payments. It would be fair to 
conclude that veterans service organizations represented 
approximately 36 percent of the compensation or pension 
claimants whose cases were handled in 1994. Although VBA does 
not have statistics on the number of claimants who designate 
only an organization (as opposed to a specific office or 
recognized representative of an organization), let us assume 
that, as at the Board, approximately 79 percent of claimants 
represented by service organizations designated only an 
organization on their powers of attorney. Thus, an 
``individuals only'' holding by the court would cast doubt on 
the validity and meaning of nearly 605,000 powers of attorney 
coming before VBA during one year.
    An ``individuals only'' rule would require extensive and 
costly reprogramming of VBA's automated data processing system 
and greatly increase VBA's annual postage costs. In connection 
with claim development, award notification, and routine 
communications concerning awards, VBA's regional offices 
annually produce more than 3 million letters for veterans 
service organizations representing claimants or beneficiaries. 
Currently, the Hines, Illinois computer center prepares and 
mails one copy of each letter to the claimant or beneficiary 
and ships three copies to the appropriate regional office, 
where one copy is filed in the claim folder and two are 
delivered through internal mail to the organization. If 
required to notify individual representatives of organizations 
by mail, VBA would have to reprogram the computer system and, 
most likely, mail the representatives' copies from Hines. 
Postage costs alone could approach $1 million annually. We 
think that such a procedure would waste limited resources, 
particularly since the current procedure provides an efficient 
means of notifying organizations.
    An ``individuals only'' rule would also probably force VBA 
to curtail or eliminate veterans service organizations' access 
to veterans' computer records. Currently, an accredited 
representative of an organization may access the records of any 
veteran represented by that organization. Under an 
``individuals only'' system, however, VBA would have to 
restrict a representative's access to only the files of those 
veterans whose powers of attorney designate that 
representative. The cost of establishing appropriate security 
for the computer files in a system that includes over 6,000 
individual representatives would probably be too great to 
justify continued access to the records. The Board would also 
face a similar problem with access it provides veterans service 
organizations to its computer records.
    Section 2 of S. 1751, which we developed after consulting 
with officials of the major veterans service organizations, 
would address these problems. Section 2(a) would amend section 
5902 of title 38, United States Code, to authorize the 
Secretary to treat a power of attorney naming an organization, 
a specific office of an organization, or a recognized 
representative of an organization as an appointment of the 
entire organization, unless the claimant specifically indicated 
his or her desire to appoint only a recognized representative 
of the organization. Under this amendment, whether a claimant's 
power of attorney is executed in favor of an approved 
organization, a local office of that organization, or an 
individual representative of the organization, the claimant 
could rest assured of the assistance of an accredited 
representative of the organization at every stage of the claim 
or appeal before VA, regardless of location or the inability of 
a particular individual to continue representation, without 
having to file additional powers of attorney.
    Section 2(a) of S. 1751 would also require the Secretary, 
when required or permitted to notify a claimant's 
representative, and when the claimant has appointed a veterans 
service organization as representative, to notify the 
organization at the address designated by the organization for 
the purpose of receiving each kind of notification, unless the 
claimant specifically indicates a desire to appoint only an 
individual representative of the organization.
    Under section 2(b) of S. 1751, the amendments made by 
section 2(a) would apply to any power-of-attorney form filed 
with VA regardless of the date of its execution.
    We estimate minor administrative savings from enactment of 
the provision authorizing the sending of Board decisions, and 
depending on how the Court of Veterans Appeals interprets 
current 38 U.S.C. Sec. 5902(a), enactment of the provision 
regarding the appointment of veterans service organizations as 
claimants'' representatives would likely afford significant 
cost avoidance. We strongly support enactment of this bill.
          * * * * * * *
    This concludes my statement, Mr. Chairman. I would be 
pleased to answer any questions that you or the members of the 
Committee may have.

          Changes in Existing Law Made by S. 1711 as Reported

    In compliance with paragraph 12 of Rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, changes in existing law made by 
the Committee bill, as reported, are shown as follows (existing 
law proposed to be omitted is enclosed in black brackets, new 
matter is printed in italic, existing law in which no change is 
proposed is shown in roman):

                      TITLE 38, UNITED STATES CODE

          * * * * * * *

                       PART I--GENERAL PROVISIONS

                           CHAPTER 1--GENERAL

Sec. 101. Definitions

    For the purposes of this title--
          (1) * * *
          * * * * * * *
          (29) [The term ``Vietnam era'' means the period 
        beginning August 5, 1964, and ending on May 7, 1975.] 
        The term ``Vietnam era'' means the following:
                  (A) The period beginning on February 28, 
                1961, and ending on May 7, 1975, in the case of 
                a veteran who served in the Republic of Vietnam 
                during such period.
                  (B) The period beginning on August 5, 1964, 
                and ending on May 7, 1975, in all other 
                cases.--.
          * * * * * * *

               CHAPTER 3--DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS

          * * * * * * *

Sec. 317. Center for Minority Veterans

    (a) * * *
    (b) The Director shall be a career or noncareer appointee 
in the Senior Executive Service. The Director shall be 
appointed for a term of six years.
    (c) * * *
    (d) The Director shall perform the following functions with 
respect to veterans who are minorities:
          (1) * * *
          * * * * * * *
          (10) Advise the Secretary and other appropriate 
        officials on the effectiveness of the Department's 
        efforts to accomplish the goals of section 492B of the 
        Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 289a-2) with 
        respect to the inclusion of minorities in clinical 
        research and on particular health conditions affecting 
        the health of members of minority groups which should 
        be studied as part of the Department's medical research 
        program and promote cooperation between the Department 
        and other sponsors of medical research of potential 
        benefit to veterans who are minorities.
          (11) Provide support and administrative services to 
        the Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans provided 
        for under section 544 of this title.
          [(10)] (12) Perform such other duties consistent with 
        this section as the Secretary shall prescribe.
    (e) * * *
          * * * * * * *
    (g) In this section--
          (1) The term ``veterans who are minorities'' means 
        veterans who are minority group members.
          (2) The term ``minority group member'' has the 
        meaning given such term in section 544(d) of this 
        title.

Sec. 318. Center for Women Veterans

    (a) * * *
    (b) The Director shall be a career or noncareer appointee 
in the Senior Executive Service. The Director shall be 
appointed for a term of six years.
          * * * * * * *
    (d) * * *
          * * * * * * *
          (10) Advise the Secretary and other appropriate 
        officials on the effectiveness of the Department's 
        efforts to accomplish the goals of section 492B of the 
        Public Health Service Act [(relating to the inclusion 
        of women and minorities in clinical research) and of] 
        (42 U.S.C. 289a-2) with respect to the inclusion of 
        women in clinical research and on particular health 
        conditions affecting women's health which should be 
        studied as part of the Department's medical research 
        program and promote cooperation between the Department 
        and other sponsors of medical research of potential 
        benefit to veterans who are women.
          * * * * * * *

            CHAPTER 5--AUTHORITY AND DUTIES OF THE SECRETARY

          * * * * * * *

                  Subchapter III--Advisory Committees

          * * * * * * *

Sec. 542. Advisory Committee on Women Veterans

    (a)(1) * * *
          * * * * * * *
    (b) The Secretary shall, on a regular basis, consult with 
and seek the advice of the Committee with respect to the 
administration of benefits by the Department for women 
veterans, reports and studies pertaining to women veterans and 
the needs of women veterans with respect to compensation, 
health care, rehabilitation, outreach, and other benefits and 
programs administered by the Department, including the Center 
for Women Veterans.
          * * * * * * *

Sec. 544. Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans

    (a)(1) * * *
          * * * * * * *
    (b) The Secretary shall, on a regular basis, consult with 
and seek the advice of the Committee with respect to the 
administration of benefits by the Department for veterans who 
are minority group members, reports and studies pertaining to 
such veterans and the needs of such veterans with respect to 
compensation, health care, rehabilitation, outreach, and other 
benefits and programs administered by the Department, including 
the Center for Minority Veterans.
    (c)(1) * * *
          * * * * * * *
    (e) The Committee shall cease to exist [December 31, 1997] 
December 31, 1999.
          * * * * * * *

                       PART II--GENERAL BENEFITS

          * * * * * * *

   CHAPTER 11--COMPENSATION FOR SERVICE-CONNECTED DISABILITY OR DEATH

          * * * * * * *

             Subchapter II--Wartime Disability Compensation

          * * * * * * *

Sec. 1116. Presumptions of service connection for diseases associated 
                    with exposure to certain herbicide agents

    (a)(1) For the purposes of section 1110 of this title, and 
subject to section 1113 of this title--
          (A) a disease specified in paragraph (2) of this 
        subsection becoming manifest as specified in that 
        paragraph in a veteran who, during active military, 
        naval, or air service, served in the Republic of 
        Vietnam [during the Vietnam era] during the period 
        beginning on January 9, 1962, and ending on May 7, 
        1975; and
          (B) each additional disease (if any) that (i) the 
        Secretary determines in regulations prescribed under 
        this section warrants a presumption of service-
        connection by reason of having positive association 
        with exposure to an herbicide agent, and (ii) becomes 
        manifest within the period (if any) prescribed in such 
        regulations in a veteran who, during active military, 
        naval, or air service, served in the Republic of 
        Vietnam [during the Vietnam era] during the period 
        beginning on January 9, 1962, and ending on May 7, 
        1975, and while so serving was exposed to that 
        herbicide agent,
shall be considered to have been incurred in or aggravated by 
such service, notwithstanding that there is no record of 
evidence of such disease during the period of such service.
    (2) The diseases referred to in paragraph (1)(A) of this 
subsection are the following:
          (A) * * *
          * * * * * * *
          (C) Chloracne or another acneform disease consistent 
        with chloracne becoming manifest to a degree of 
        disability of 10 percent or more within one year after 
        the last date on which the veteran performed active 
        military, naval, or air service in the Republic of 
        Vietnam [during the Vietnam era] during the period 
        beginning on January 9, 1962, and ending on May 7, 
        1975.
          (D) * * *
          (E) Porphyria cutanea tarda becoming manifest to a 
        degree of disability of 10 percent or more within a 
        year after the last date on which the veteran performed 
        active military, naval, or air service in the Republic 
        of Vietnam [during the Vietnam era] during the period 
        beginning on January 9, 1962, and ending on May 7, 
        1975.
          (F) Respiratory cancers (cancer of the lung, 
        bronchus, larynx, or trachea) becoming manifest to a 
        degree of 10 percent or more within 30 years after the 
        last date on which the veteran performed active 
        military, naval, or air service in the Republic of 
        Vietnam [during the Vietnam era] during the period 
        beginning on January 9, 1962, and ending on May 7, 
        1975.
          (G) * * *
    (3) For the purposes of this subsection, a veteran who, 
during active military, naval, or air service, served in the 
Republic of Vietnam [during the Vietnam era] during the period 
beginning on January 9, 1962, and ending on May 7, 1975, and 
has a disease referred to in paragraph (1)(B) of this 
subsection shall be presumed to have been exposed during such 
service to an herbicide agent containing dioxin or 2,4-
dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, and may be presumed to have been 
exposed during such service to any other chemical compound in 
an herbicide agent, unless there is affirmative evidence to 
establish that the veteran was not exposed to any such agent 
during that service.
    (4) For purposes of this section, the term ``herbicide 
agent'' means a chemical in an herbicide used in support of the 
United States and allied military operations in the Republic of 
Vietnam [during the Vietnam era] during the period beginning on 
January 9, 1962, and ending on May 7, 1975.
          * * * * * * *

CHAPTER 13--DEPENDENCY AND INDEMNITY COMPENSATION FOR SERVICE-CONNECTED 
                                 DEATHS

          * * * * * * *

          Subchapter II--Dependency and Indemnity Compensation

Sec. 1315. Dependency and indemnity compensation to parents

    (a)(1) * * *
          * * * * * * *
    (f)(1) In determining income under this section, all 
payments of any kind or from any source shall be included, 
except--
          (A) * * *
          * * * * * * *
          (F) payments under policies of [servicemen's group 
        life insurance] servicemembers' group life insurance, 
        United States Government life insurance or national 
        service life insurance, and payments of servicemen's 
        indemnity;
          * * * * * * *

   CHAPTER 17--HOSPITAL, NURSING HOME, DOMICILIARY, AND MEDICAL CARE

          * * * * * * *

Subchapter II--Hospital, Nursing Home, or Domiciliary Care and Medical 
                               Treatment

          * * * * * * *

Sec. 1710. Eligibility for hospital, nursing home, and domiciliary care

    (a)(1) * * *
          * * * * * * *
    (e)(1)(A) Subject to paragraphs (2) and (3) of this 
subsection, a veteran--
          (i) who served on active duty in the Republic of 
        Vietnam [during the Vietnam era,] during the period 
        beginning on January 9, 1962, and ending on May 7, 
        1975, and
          (ii) who the Secretary finds may have been exposed 
        during such service to dioxin or was exposed during 
        such service to a toxic substance found in a herbicide 
        or defoliant used in connection with military purposes 
        during [such era] such period,
is eligible for hospital care and nursing home care under 
subsection (a)(1)(G) of this section for any disability, 
notwithstanding that there is insufficient medical evidence to 
conclude that such disability may be associated with such 
exposure.
    (B) * * *
          * * * * * * *

                         CHAPTER 19--INSURANCE

             Subchapter I--National Service Life Insurance

Sec.

1901. * * *
          * * * * * * *

  Subchapter III--[Servicemen's Group Life Insurance] Servicemembers' 
                          Group Life Insurance

1965. * * *
          * * * * * * *
1974. Advisory Council on [Servicemen's Group Life Insurance] 
          Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance.
          * * * * * * *

  Subchapter III--[Servicemen's Group Life Insurance] Servicemembers' 
                          Group Life Insurance

          * * * * * * *

Sec. 1965. Definitions

    For the purpose of this subchapter--
          (1) * * *
          * * * * * * *
          (5) The term ``member'' means--
                  (A) * * *
                  (B) a person who volunteers for assignment to 
                the Ready Reserve of a uniformed service and is 
                assigned to a unit or position in which such 
                person may be required to perform active duty, 
                or active duty for training, and each year will 
                be scheduled to perform at least twelve periods 
                of inactive duty training that is creditable 
                for retirement purposes under chapter 1223 of 
                title 10 (or under chapter 67 of that title as 
                in effect before the effective date of the 
                Reserve Officer Personnel Management Act); and
                  [(C) a person assigned to, or who upon 
                application would be eligible for assignment 
                to, the Retired Reserve of a uniformed service 
                who has not received the first increment of 
                retirement pay or has not yet reached sixty-one 
                years of age and has completed at least twenty 
                years of satisfactory service creditable for 
                retirement purposes under chapter 1223 of title 
                10 (or under chapter 67 of that title as in 
                effect before the effective date of the Reserve 
                Officer Personnel Management Act);
                  [(D) a person transferred to the Retired 
                Reserve of a uniformed service under the 
                temporary special retirement authority provided 
                in section 1331a of title 10 who has not 
                received the first increment of retirement pay 
                or has not reached sixty-one years of age; and]
                  [(E)] (C) a member, cadet, or midshipman of 
                the Reserve Officers Training Corps while 
                attending field training or practice cruises.
          * * * * * * *

Sec. 1967. Persons insured; amount

    (a) Any policy of insurance purchased by the Secretary 
under section 1966 of this title shall automatically insure 
against death--
          (1) any member of a uniformed service on active duty, 
        active duty for training, or inactive duty training 
        scheduled in advance by competent authority; and
          (2) * * *
          [(3) any member assigned to, or who upon application 
        would be eligible for assignment to, the Retired 
        Reserve of a uniformed service who meets the 
        qualifications set forth in section 1965(5)(C) of this 
        title; and
          [(4) any member assigned to the Retired Reserve of a 
        uniform service who meets the qualifications set forth 
        in section 1965(5)(D) of this title;]
in the amount of $100,000, unless such member elects in writing 
(A) not to be insured under this subchapter, or (B) to be 
insured in an amount less than $100,000 that is evenly 
divisible by $10,000. The insurance shall be effective the 
first day of active duty or active duty for training, or the 
beginning of a period of inactive duty training scheduled in 
advance by competent authority, [or the first day a member of 
the Ready Reserve meets the qualifications set forth in section 
1965(5)(B) of this title, or the first day a member of the 
Reserves, whether or not assigned to the Retired Reserve of a 
uniformed service, meets the qualifications of section 
1965(5)(C) of this title, or the first day a member of the 
Reserves meets the qualifications of section 1965(5)(D) of this 
title,] or the date certified by the Secretary to the Secretary 
concerned as the date [Servicemen's Group Life Insurance] 
Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance under this subchapter for 
the class or group concerned takes effect, whichever is the 
later date.
    (b) * * *
    (c) If any member elects not to be insured under this 
subchapter or to be insured in any amount less than $100,000, 
such member may thereafter be insured under this subchapter in 
the amount of $100,000 or any lesser amount evenly divisible by 
$10,000 upon written application, proof of good health, and 
compliance with such other terms and conditions as may be 
prescribed by the Secretary. Any former member insured under 
Veterans'' Group Life Insurance who again becomes eligible for 
[Servicemen's Group Life Insurance] Servicemembers' Group Life 
Insurance and declines such coverage solely for the purpose of 
maintaining such member's Veterans' Group Life Insurance in 
effect shall upon termination of coverage under Veterans' Group 
Life Insurance be automatically insured under [Servicemen's 
Group Life Insurance] Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance, if 
otherwise eligible therefor.
    [(d) Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, 
any member who on May 1, 1991 is a member of the Retired 
Reserve of a uniformed service (or who upon application would 
be eligible for assignment to the Retired Reserve of a 
uniformed service) may obtain increased insurance coverage in 
the amount of $100,000 or any lesser amount evenly divisible by 
$10,000 if--
          [(1) the member--
                  [(A) is insured under this subchapter on May 
                1, 1991; or
                  [(B) within one year after May 1, 1991, 
                reinstates insurance under this subchapter that 
                had lapsed for nonpayment of premiums; and
          [(2) the member submits a written application for the 
        increased coverage to the office established pursuant 
        to section 1966(b) of this title within one year after 
        May 1, 1991.]
    [(e)] (d) In addition to the amounts of insurance otherwise 
provided under this section, an eligible member may, upon 
application, obtain increased coverage beyond that provided 
under this section in the amount of $100,000, or any lesser 
amount evenly divisible by $10,000.

Sec. 1968. Duration and termination of coverage; conversion

    (a) Each policy purchased under this subchapter shall 
contain a provision, in terms approved by the Secretary, to the 
effect that any insurance thereunder on any member of the 
uniformed services, unless discontinued or reduced upon the 
written request of the insured, shall continue in effect while 
the member is on active duty, active duty for training, or 
inactive duty training scheduled in advance by competent 
authority during the period thereof, or while the member meets 
the qualifications set forth in [subparagraph (B), (C), or (D) 
of section 1965(5)] section 1965(5)(B) of this title, and such 
insurance shall cease--
          (1) * * *
          * * * * * * *
          [(4) with respect to a member of the Ready Reserve of 
        a uniformed service who meets the qualifications set 
        forth in section 1965(5)(B) of this title, one hundred 
        and twenty days after separation or release from such 
        assignment--
                  [(A) unless on the date of such separation or 
                release the member is totally disabled, under 
                criteria established by the Secretary, in which 
                event the insurance shall cease one year after 
                the date of separation or release from such 
                assignment, or on the date the insured ceases 
                to be totally disabled, whichever is the 
                earlier date, but in no event prior to the 
                expiration of one hundred and twenty days after 
                separation or release from such assignment;
                  [(B) unless on the date of such separation or 
                release the member has completed at least 
                twenty years of satisfactory service creditable 
                for retirement purposes under chapter 1223 of 
                title 10 (or under chapter 67 of that title as 
                in effect before the effective date of the 
                Reserve Officer Personnel Management Act) and 
                would upon application be eligible for 
                assignment to or is assigned to the Retired 
                Reserve, in which event the insurance, unless 
                converted to an individual policy under terms 
                and conditions set forth in section 1977(e) of 
                this title, shall, upon timely payment of 
                premiums under terms prescribed by the 
                Secretary directly to the administrative office 
                established under section 1966(b) of this 
                title, continue in force until receipt of the 
                first increment of retirement pay by the member 
                or the member's sixty-first birthday, whichever 
                occurs earlier; or
                  [(C) unless on the date of such separation or 
                release the member is transferred to the 
                Retired Reserve of a uniformed service under 
                the temporary special retirement authority 
                provided in section 1331a of title 10, in which 
                event the insurance, unless converted to an 
                individual policy under terms and conditions 
                set forth in section 1977(e) of this title, 
                shall, upon timely payment of premiums under 
                terms prescribed by the Secretary directly to 
                the administrative office established under 
                section 1966(b) of this title, continue in 
                force until receipt of the first increment of 
                retirement pay by the member or the member's 
                sixty-first birthday, whichever occurs 
                earlier.]
          (4) with respect to a member of the Ready Reserve of 
        a uniformed service who meets the qualifications set 
        forth in section 1965(5)(B) of this title, one hundred 
        and twenty days after separation or release from such 
        assignment, unless on the date of such separation or 
        release the member is totally disabled, under criteria 
        established by the Secretary, in which event the 
        insurance shall cease one year after the date of 
        separation or release from such assignment, or on the 
        date the insured ceases to be totally disabled, 
        whichever is the earlier date, but in no event prior to 
        the expiration of one hundred and twenty days after 
        separation or release from such assignment.
          [(5) with respect to a member of the Retired Reserve 
        who meets the qualifications of section 1965(5)(C) of 
        this title, and who was assigned to the Retired Reserve 
        prior to the date insurance under the amendment made by 
        section 5(a) of the Veterans'' Insurance Act of 1974 
        (Public Law 93-289, 88 Stat. 166) is placed in effect 
        for members of the Retired Reserve, at such time as the 
        member receives the first increment of retirement pay, 
        or the member's sixty-first birthday, whichever occurs 
        earlier, subject to the timely payment of the initial 
        and subsequent premiums, under terms prescribed by the 
        Secretary, directly to the administrative office 
        established under section 1966(b) of this title.
          [(6) with respect to a member of the Retired Reserve 
        who meets the qualifications of section 1965(5)(D) of 
        this title, at such time as the member receives the 
        first increment of retirement pay, or the member's 
        sixty-first birthday, whichever occurs earlier, subject 
        to the timely payment of the initial and subsequent 
        premiums, under terms prescribed by the Secretary, 
        directly to the administrative office established under 
        section 1966(b) of this title.]
    [(b) Each policy purchased under this subchapter shall 
contain a provision, in terms approved by the Secretary, that, 
except as hereinafter provided, Servicemen's Group Life 
Insurance which is continued in force after expiration of the 
period of duty or travel under section 1967(b) or 1968(a) of 
this title, effective the day after the date such insurance 
would cease, shall be automatically converted to Veterans' 
Group Life Insurance subject to (1) the timely payment of the 
initial premium under terms prescribed by the Secretary, and 
(2) the terms and conditions set forth in section 1977 of this 
title. Such automatic conversion shall be effective only in the 
case of an otherwise eligible member or former member who is 
separated or released from a period of active duty or active 
duty for training or inactive duty training on or after the 
date on which the Veterans' Group Life Insurance program 
(provided for under section 1977 of this title) becomes 
effective. Servicemen's Group Life Insurance continued in force 
under section 1968(a) (4)(B) or (5) of this title shall not be 
converted to Veterans' Group Life Insurance. However, a member 
whose insurance could be continued in force under section 
1968(a)(4)(B) of this title, but is not so continued, may, 
effective the day after the insurance otherwise would cease, 
convert such insurance to an individual policy under the terms 
and conditions set forth in section 1977(e) of this title.]
    (b)(1) Each policy purchased under this subchapter shall 
contain a provision, in terms approved by the Secretary, that, 
except as hereinafter provided, Servicemembers' Group Life 
Insurance which is continued in force after expiration of the 
period of duty or travel under section 1967(b) or 1968(a) of 
this title, effective the day after the date such insurance 
would cease, shall, at the election of the member or former 
member concerned--
          (A) be automatically converted to Veterans' Group 
        Life Insurance subject to (i) the timely payment of the 
        initial premium under terms prescribed by the 
        Secretary, and (ii) the terms and conditions set forth 
        in section 1977 of this title; or
          (B) be converted to an individual policy of insurance 
        as described in section 1977(e) of this title upon 
        written application for conversion made to the 
        participating company selected by the member and 
        payment of the required premiums.
    (2) Automatic conversion under paragraph (1)(A) shall be 
effective only in the case of an otherwise eligible member or 
former member who is separated or released from a period of 
active duty or active duty for training or inactive duty 
training on or after the date on which the Veterans' Group Life 
Insurance program (provided for under section 1977 of this 
title) becomes effective.

Sec. 1969. Deductions; payment; investment; expenses

    (a)(1) During any period in which a member, on active duty 
or active duty for training under a call or order to such duty 
that does not specify a period of less than thirty-one days, is 
insured under [Servicemen's Group Life Insurance]  
Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance, there shall be deducted 
each month from the member's basic or other pay until 
separation or release from such duty an amount determined by 
the Secretary (which shall be the same for all such members) as 
the share of the cost attributable to insuring such member 
under such policy, less any costs traceable to the extra hazard 
of such duty in the uniformed service.
    (2) During any month in which a member is assigned to the 
Ready Reserve of a uniformed service under conditions which 
meet the qualifications of section 1965(5)(B) of this title, 
[is assigned to the Reserve (other than the Retired Reserve) 
and meets the qualifications of section 1965(5)(C) of this 
title, or is assigned to the Retired Reserve and meets the 
qualifications of section 1965(5)(D) of this title,] and is 
insured under a policy of insurance purchased by the Secretary, 
under section 1966 of this title, there shall be contributed 
from the appropriation made for active duty pay of the 
uniformed service concerned an amount determined by the 
Secretary (which shall be the same for all such members) as the 
share of the cost attributable to insuring such member under 
this policy, less any costs traceable to the extra hazards of 
such duty in the uniformed services. Any amounts so contributed 
on behalf of any individual shall be collected by the Secretary 
concerned from such individual (by deduction from pay or 
otherwise) and shall be credited to the appropriation from 
which such contribution was made.
    (3) * * *
    (4) Any amount not deducted from the basic or other pay of 
a member insured under [Servicemen's Group Life Insurance] 
Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance, or collected from the 
member by the Secretary concerned, if not otherwise paid, shall 
be deducted from the proceeds of any insurance thereafter 
payable. The initial monthly amount under paragraph (1) or (2) 
hereof, or fiscal year amount under paragraph (3) hereof, 
determined by the Secretary to be charged under this section 
for [Servicemen's Group Life Insurance] Servicemembers' Group 
Life Insurance may be continued from year to year, except that 
the Secretary may redetermine such monthly or fiscal year 
amounts from time to time in accordance with experience. No 
refunds will be made to any member of any amount properly 
deducted from the member's basic or other pay, or collected 
from the member by the Secretary concerned, to cover the 
insurance granted under [Servicemen's Group Life Insurance] 
Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance.
    (b) For each month for which any member is so insured, 
there shall be contributed from the appropriation made for 
active duty pay of the uniformed service concerned an amount 
determined by the Secretary and certified to the Secretary 
concerned to be the cost of Servicemen's Group Life Insurance 
which is traceable to the extra hazard of duty in the uniformed 
services. Effective January 1, 1970, such cost shall be 
determined by the Secretary on the basis of the excess 
mortality incurred by members and former members of the 
uniformed services insured under [Servicemen's Group Life 
Insurance] Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance above what 
their mortality would have been under peacetime conditions as 
such mortality is determined by the Secretary using such 
methods and data as the Secretary shall determine to be 
reasonable and practicable. The Secretary is authorized to make 
such adjustments regarding contributions from pay 
appropriations as may be indicated from actual experience.
    (c) An amount equal to the first amount due on 
[Servicemen's Group Life Insurance] Servicemembers' Group Life 
Insurance may be advanced from current appropriations for 
active-service pay to any such member, which amount shall 
constitute a lien upon any service or other pay accruing to the 
person from whom such advance was made and shall be collected 
therefrom if not otherwise paid. No disbursing or certifying 
officer shall be responsible for any loss incurred by reason of 
such advance.
    (d)(1) The sums withheld from the basic or other pay of 
members, or collected from them by the Secretary concerned, 
under subsection (a) of this section, and the sums contributed 
from appropriations under subsection (b) of this section, 
together with the income derived from any dividends or premium 
rate adjustments received from insurers shall be deposited to 
the credit of a revolving fund established in the Treasury of 
the United States. All premium payments and extra hazard costs 
on [Servicemen's Group Life Insurance] Servicemembers' Group 
Life Insurance and the administrative cost to the Department of 
insurance issued under this subchapter shall be paid from the 
revolving fund.
          * * * * * * *
    [(e) The premiums for Servicemen's Group Life Insurance 
placed in effect or continued in force for a member assigned to 
the Retired Reserve of a uniformed service who meets the 
qualifications of subparagraph (C) or (D) of section 1965(5) of 
this title, shall be established under the criteria set forth 
in subsections (a) and (c) of section 1971 of this title, 
except that the Secretary may provide for average premiums for 
such various age groupings as the Secretary may determine to be 
necessary according to sound actuarial principles, and shall 
include an amount necessary to cover the administrative cost of 
such insurance to the company or companies issuing or 
continuing such insurance. Such premiums shall be payable by 
the insureds thereunder as provided by the Secretary directly 
to the administrative office established for such insurance 
under section 1966(b) of this title. The provisions of 
subsections (d) and (e) of section 1971 of this title shall be 
applicable to Servicemen's Group Life Insurance continued in 
force or issued to a member assigned to the Retired Reserve of 
a uniformed service. However, a separate accounting may be 
required by the Secretary for insurance issued to or continued 
in force on the lives of members assigned to the Retired 
Reserve and for other insurance in force under this subchapter. 
In such accounting, the Secretary is authorized to allocate 
claims and other costs among such programs of insurance 
according to accepted actuarial principles.]
    [(f)] (e) The Secretary of Defense shall prescribe 
regulations for the administration of the functions of the 
Secretaries of the military departments under this section. 
Such regulations shall prescribe such procedures as the 
Secretary of Defense, after consultation with the Secretary, 
may consider necessary to ensure that such functions are 
carried out in a timely and complete manner and in accordance 
with the provisions of this section, including specifically the 
provisions of subsection (a)(2) of this section relating to 
contributions from appropriations made for active duty pay.
    [(g)] (f)(1) No tax, fee, or other monetary payment may be 
imposed or collected by any State, or by any political 
subdivision or other governmental authority of a State, on or 
with respect to any premium paid under an insurance policy 
purchased under this subchapter.
    (2) * * *

Sec. 1970. Beneficiaries; payment of insurance

    (a) Any amount of insurance under this subchapter in force 
on any member or former member on the date of the insured's 
death shall be paid, upon the establishment of a valid claim 
therefor, to the person or persons surviving at the date of the 
insured's death, in the following order of precedence:
    First, to the beneficiary or beneficiaries as the member or 
former member may have designated by a writing received prior 
to death (1) in the uniformed services if insured under 
[Servicemen's Group Life Insurance] Servicemembers' Group Life 
Insurance, or (2) in the administrative office established 
under section 1966(b) of this title if separated or released 
from service, or if assigned to the Retired Reserve, and 
insured under [Servicemen's Group Life Insurance] 
Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance, or if insured under 
Veterans' Group Life Insurance;
    Second, if there be no such beneficiary, to the widow or 
widower of such member or former member;
    Third, if none of the above, to the child or children of 
such member or former member and descendants of deceased 
children by representation;
    Fourth, if none of the above, to the parents of such member 
or former member or the survivor of them;
    Fifth, if none of the above, to the duly appointed executor 
or administrator of the estate of such member or former member;
    Sixth, if none of the above, to other next of kin of such 
member or former member entitled under the laws of domicile of 
such member or former member at the time of the insured's 
death.
          * * * * * * *
    (f) Notwithstanding the provisions of any other law, 
payment of matured [Servicemen's Group Life Insurance] 
Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance or Veterans' Group Life 
Insurance benefits may be made directly to a minor widow or 
widower on his or her own behalf, and payment in such case 
shall be a complete acquittance to the insurer.
    (g) Payments of benefits due or to become due under 
[Servicemen's Group Life Insurance] Servicemembers' Group Life 
Insurance or Veterans' Group Life Insurance made to, or on 
account of, a beneficiary shall be exempt from taxation, shall 
be exempt from the claims of creditors, and shall not be liable 
to attachment, levy, or seizure by or under any legal or 
equitable process whatever, either before or after receipt by 
the beneficiary. The preceding sentence shall not apply to (1) 
collection of amounts not deducted from the member's pay, or 
collected from him by the Secretary concerned under section 
1969(a) of this title, (2) levy under subchapter D of chapter 
64 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (26 U.S.C. 6331 et 
seq.) (relating to the seizure of property for collection of 
taxes), and (3) the taxation of any property purchased in part 
or wholly out of such payments.
          * * * * * * *

Sec. 1971. Basic tables of premiums; readjustment of rates

    (a) * * *
    (b) The total premiums for [Servicemen's Group Life 
Insurance] Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance shall be the 
sum of the amounts computed according to the provisions of 
subsection (a) above and the estimated cost traceable to the 
extra hazard of active duty in the uniformed services as 
determined by the Secretary, subject to the provision that such 
estimated costs traceable to the extra hazard shall be 
retroactively readjusted annually in accordance with section 
1969(b).
          * * * * * * *

Sec. 1973. Forfeiture

    Any person guilty of mutiny, treason, spying, or desertion, 
or who, because of conscientious objections, refuses to perform 
service in the Armed Forces of the United States or refuses to 
wear the uniform of such force, shall forfeit all rights to 
[Servicemen's Group Life Insurance] Servicemembers' Group Life 
Insurance under this subchapter. No such insurance shall be 
payable for death inflicted as a lawful punishment for crime or 
for military or naval offense, except when inflicted by an 
enemy of the United States.

Sec. 1974. Advisory Council on [Servicemen's Group Life Insurance] 
                    Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance

    (a) There is an Advisory Council on [Servicemen's Group 
Life Insurance] Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance. The 
council consists of--
          * * * * * * *

Sec. 1977. Veterans' Group Life Insurance

    (a) Veterans' Group Life Insurance shall be issued in the 
amounts specified in section 1967(a) [and (e)] of this title. 
In the case of any individual, the amount of Veterans' Group 
Life Insurance may not exceed the amount of [Servicemen's Group 
Life Insurance] Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance coverage 
continued in force after the expiration of the period of duty 
or travel under section 1967(b) [and (e)] or 1968(a) of this 
title. No person may carry a combined amount of [Servicemen's 
Group Life Insurance] Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance and 
Veterans' Group Life Insurance in excess of $200,000 at any one 
time. [Any person insured under Veterans' Group Life Insurance 
who again becomes insured under Servicemen's Group Life 
Insurance may within 60 days after becoming so insured convert 
any or all of such person's Veterans' Group Life Insurance to 
an individual policy of insurance under subsection (e). 
However, if such a person dies within the 60-day period and 
before converting such person's Veterans' Group Life Insurance, 
Veterans' Group Life Insurance will be payable only if such 
person is insured for less than $200,000 under Servicemen's 
Group Life Insurance, and then only in an amount which when 
added to the amount of Servicemen's Group Life Insurance 
payable shall not exceed $200,000.] If any person insured under 
Veterans' Group Life Insurance again becomes insured under 
Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance but dies before 
terminating or converting such person's Veterans' Group Life 
Insurance to Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance, Veterans' 
Group Life Insurance will be payable only if such person is 
insured for less than $200,000 under Servicemembers' Group Life 
Insurance, and then only in an amount which when added to the 
amount of Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance payable shall 
not exceed $200,000.
    (b) * * *
          * * * * * * *
    (d) Any amount of Veterans' Group Life Insurance in force 
on any person on the date of such person's death shall be paid, 
upon the establishment of a valid claim therefor, pursuant to 
the provisions of section 1970 of this title. However, any 
designation of beneficiary or beneficiaries for [Servicemen's 
Group Life Insurance] Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance 
filed with a uniformed service until changed, shall be 
considered a designation of beneficiary or beneficiaries for 
Veterans' Group Life Insurance, but not for more than sixty 
days after the effective date of the insured's Veterans' Group 
Insurance, unless at the end of such sixty-day period, the 
insured is incompetent in which event such designation may 
continue in force until the disability is removed but not for 
more than five years after the effective date of the insured's 
Veterans' Group Life Insurance. Except as indicated above in 
incompetent cases, after such sixty-day period, any designation 
of beneficiary or beneficiaries for Veterans' Group Life 
Insurance to be effective must be by a writing signed by the 
insured and received by the administrative office established 
under section 1966(b) of this title.
    (e) An insured under Veterans' Group Life Insurance shall 
have the right to convert such insurance to an individual 
policy of life insurance upon written application for 
conversion made to the participating company the insured 
selects and payment of the required premiums. The individual 
policy will be issued without medical examination on a plan 
then currently written by such company which does not provide 
for the payment of any sum less than the face value thereof or 
for the payment of an additional amount as premiums in the 
event the insured performs active duty, active duty for 
training, or inactive duty training. [The individual policy 
will be effective the day after the insured's Veterans' Group 
Life Insurance terminates by expiration of the five-year term 
period, except in a case where the insured is eligible to 
convert at an earlier date by reason of again having become 
insured under Servicemen's Group Life Insurance, in which event 
the effective date of the individual policy may not be later 
than the sixty-first day after the insured again became so 
insured.] A Veterans' Group Life Insurance policy converted to 
an individual policy under this subsection shall terminate on 
the date before the date on which the individual policy becomes 
effective. Upon request to the administrative office 
established under section 1966(b) of this title, an insured 
under Veterans' Group Life Insurance shall be furnished a list 
of life insurance companies participating in the program 
established under this subchapter. In addition to the life 
insurance companies participating in the program established 
under this subchapter, the list furnished to an insured under 
this section shall include additional life insurance companies 
(not so participating) which meet qualifying criteria, terms, 
and conditions established by the Secretary and agree to sell 
insurance to former members in accordance with the provisions 
of this section.
    (f) * * *
    (g) Any person whose [Servicemen's Group Life Insurance] 
Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance was continued in force 
after termination of duty or discharge from service under the 
law as in effect prior to the date on which the Veterans' Group 
Life Insurance program (provided for under section 1977 of this 
title) became effective, and whose coverage under [Servicemen's 
Group Life Insurance] Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance 
terminated less than four years prior to such date, shall be 
eligible within one year from the effective date of the 
Veterans' Group Life Insurance program to apply for and be 
granted Veterans' Group Life Insurance in an amount equal to 
the amount of the insured's Servicemen's Group Life Insurance 
which was not converted to an individual policy under prior 
law. Veterans' Group Life Insurance issued under this 
subsection shall be issued for a term period equal to five 
years, less the time elapsing between the termination of the 
applicant's [Servicemen's Group Life Insurance] Servicemembers' 
Group Life Insurance and the effective date on which the 
Veterans' Group Life Insurance program became effective. 
Veterans' Group Life Insurance under this subsection shall only 
be issued upon application to the administrative office 
established under section 1966(b) of this title, payment of the 
required premium, and proof of good health satisfactory to that 
office, which proof shall be submitted at the applicant's own 
expense. Any person who cannot meet the good health 
requirements for insurance under this subsection solely because 
of a service-connected disability shall have such disability 
waived. For each month for which any eligible veteran, whose 
service-connected disabilities are waived, is insured under 
this subsection there shall be contributed to the insurer or 
insurers issuing the policy or policies from the appropriation 
``Compensation and Pensions, Department of Veterans Affairs'' 
an amount necessary to cover the cost of the insurance in 
excess of the premiums established for eligible veterans, 
including the cost of the excess mortality attributable to such 
veteran's service-connected disabilities. The Secretary may 
establish, as the Secretary may determine to be necessary 
according to sound actuarial principles, a separate premium, 
age groupings for premium purposes, accounting, and reserves, 
for persons granted insurance under this subsection different 
from those established for other persons granted insurance 
under this section. Appropriations to carry out the purpose of 
this section are hereby authorized.
          * * * * * * *

                      CHAPTER 23--BURIAL BENEFITS

Sec.

2301. * * *
          * * * * * * *
306. Headstones, markers, and [grave liners] burial receptacles
          * * * * * * *

Sec. 2306. Headstones, Markers, and [grave liners] burial receptacles

    (a) * * *
          * * * * * * *
    (d)(1) The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall provide [a 
grave liner] an outer burial receptacle for each new grave in 
an open cemetery within the National Cemetery System in which 
remains are interred in a casket. The Secretary of the Army may 
provide [a grave liner] an outer burial receptacle for such a 
grave in the Arlington National Cemetery.
    (2) The use of [grave liners] outer burial receptacles in a 
cemetery within the National Cemetery System or in the 
Arlington National Cemetery shall be in accordance with 
[specifications and procedures] regulations or procedures 
approved by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs or Secretary of 
the Army, respectively.
    (3) Regulations or procedures under paragraph (2) may 
specify that--
          (A) an outer burial receptacle other than a grave 
        liner be provided in lieu of a grave liner at the 
        election of the survivors of the interred veteran; and
          (B) if an outer burial receptacle other than a grave 
        liner is provided in lieu of a grave liner upon an 
        election of such survivors, such survivors be 
        required--
                  (i) to pay the amount by which the cost of 
                the outer burial receptacle exceeds the cost of 
                the grave liner that would otherwise have been 
                provided in the absence of the election; and
                  (ii) to pay the amount of the administrative 
                costs incurred by the Secretary concerned in 
                providing the outer burial receptacle in lieu 
                of such grave liner.
    (4) Regulations or procedures under paragraph (2) may 
provide for the use of a voucher system, or other system of 
reimbursement approved by the Secretary concerned, for payment 
for outer burial receptacles other than grave liners provided 
under such regulations or procedures.
          * * * * * * *

             CHAPTER 24--NATIONAL CEMETERIES AND MEMORIALS

Sec. 2402. Persons eligible for interment in national cemeteries

    Under such regulations as the Secretary may prescribe and 
subject to the provisions of section 6105 of this title, the 
remains of the following persons may be buried in any open 
national cemetery in the National Cemetery System:
          (1) * * *
          * * * * * * *
          (5) The spouse, surviving spouse (which for purposes 
        of this chapter includes an unremarried surviving 
        spouse who had a subsequent remarriage which was 
        terminated by death or divorce), minor child (which for 
        purposes of this chapter includes a child under 21 
        years of age, or under 23 years of age if pursuing a 
        course of instruction at an approved educational 
        institution), and, in the discretion of the Secretary, 
        unmarried adult child of any of the persons listed in 
        paragraphs (1) through (4) and paragraph (7).
          * * * * * * *

              PART III--READJUSTMENT AND RELATED BENEFITS

     CHAPTER 30--ALL-VOLUNTEER FORCE EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM

          * * * * * * *

              Subchapter II--Basic Educational Assistance

          * * * * * * *

Sec. 3017. Death benefit

    (a)(1) In the event of the service-connected death of any 
individual--
          (A) * * *
          * * * * * * *
    (2)(A) The payment referred to in paragraph (1) of this 
subsection shall be made to the person or persons first listed 
below who is surviving on the date of such individual's death:
          (i) The beneficiary or beneficiaries designated by 
        such individual under the individual's [Servicemen's 
        Group Life Insurance] Servicemembers' Group Life 
        Insurance policy.
          * * * * * * *

     CHAPTER 32--POST-VIETNAM ERA VETERANS'' EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE

          * * * * * * *

      Subchapter II--Eligibility; Contributions; and Matching Fund

          * * * * * * *

Sec. 3224. Death of participant

    In the event of a participant's death, the amount of such 
participant's unused contributions to the fund shall be paid to 
the living person or persons first listed below:
          (1) The beneficiary or beneficiaries designated by 
        such participant under such participant's [Servicemen's 
        Group Life Insurance] Servicemembers' Group Life 
        Insurance policy.
          * * * * * * *

              CHAPTER 34--VETERANS' EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE

                   Subchapter I--Purpose; Definitions

          * * * * * * *

Sec. 3452. Definitions

    For the purposes of this chapter and chapter 36 of this 
title--
    (a)(1) * * *
          * * * * * * *
    (c) The term ``educational institution'' means any public 
or private elementary school, secondary school, vocational 
school, correspondence school, business school, junior college, 
teachers' college, college, normal school, professional school, 
university, or scientific or technical institution, or other 
institution furnishing education for adults. For the period 
ending on [September 30, 1996] December 31, 1998, such term 
includes any entity that provides training required for 
completion of any State-approved alternative teacher 
certification program (as determined by the Secretary).
          * * * * * * *

              CHAPTER 37--HOUSING AND SMALL BUSINESS LOANS

          * * * * * * *

               Subchapter III--Administrative Provisions

          * * * * * * *

Sec. 3729. Loan fee

    (a)(1) * * *
    (2) Except as provided in paragraphs (4) and (5) of this 
subsection, the amount of such fee shall be 1.25 percent of the 
total loan amount, except that--
          (A) * * *
          * * * * * * *
          (E) in the case of a loan guaranteed under section 
        3710(a)(8), 3710(a)(9)(B)(i), 3710(a)(11), [or 
        3712(a)(1)(F)] 3712(a)(1)(F), or 3762(h) of this title, 
        the amount of such fee shall be 0.5 percent of the 
        total loan amount.
          * * * * * * *

    Subchapter V--Native American Veteran Housing Loan Pilot Program

          * * * * * * *

Sec. 3762. Direct housing loans to Native American veterans

    (a) * * *
          * * * * * * *
    (h)(1) The Secretary may make direct loans to Native 
American veterans in order to enable such veterans to refinance 
existing loans made under this section.
    (2)(A) The Secretary may not make a loan under this 
subsection unless the loan meets the requirements set forth in 
subparagraphs (B), (C), and (E) of paragraph (1) of section 
3710(e) of this title.
    (B) The Secretary may not make a loan under this subsection 
unless the loan will bear an interest rate at least one 
percentage point less than the interest rate borne by the loan 
being refinanced.
    (C) Paragraphs (2) and (3) of such section 3710(e) shall 
apply to any loan made under this subsection, except that for 
the purposes of this subsection the reference to subsection 
(a)(8) of section 3710 of this title in such paragraphs (2) and 
(3) shall be deemed to be a reference to this subsection.
    [(h)] (i) The Secretary shall carry out an outreach program 
to inform and educate tribal organizations and Native American 
veterans of the pilot program provided for under this 
subchapter and the availability of direct housing loans for 
Native American veterans who live on trust lands.
          * * * * * * *

   CHAPTER 43--EMPLOYMENT AND REEMPLOYMENT RIGHTS OF MEMBERS OF THE 
                           UNIFORMED SERVICES

                         Subchapter I--General

Sec. 4301. Purposes; sense of Congress

    (a) The purposes of this chapter are--
          (1) * * *
          (2) to minimize the disruption to the lives of 
        persons performing service in the uniformed services as 
        well as to their employers, their fellow employees, and 
        their communities, by providing for the prompt 
        reemployment of such persons upon their completion of 
        such service [under honorable conditions]; and
          * * * * * * *

Sec. 4303. Definitions

    For the purposes of this chapter--
          (1) * * *
          * * * * * * *
          (16) The term ``uniformed services'' means the Armed 
        Forces, the Army National Guard and the Air National 
        Guard when engaged in active duty for training, 
        inactive duty training, or full-time National Guard 
        duty, the commissioned corps of the Public Health 
        Service, and any other category of persons designated 
        by the President in time of war or national emergency.
          * * * * * * *

  Subchapter II--Employment and Reemployment Rights and Limitations; 
                              Prohibitions

Sec. 4311. Discrimination against persons who serve in the uniformed 
                    services and acts of reprisal prohibited

    (a) * * *
    [(b) An employer shall be considered to have denied a 
person initial employment, reemployment, retention in 
employment, promotion, or a benefit of employment in violation 
of this section if the person's membership, application for 
membership, service, application for service, or obligation for 
service in the uniformed services is a motivating factor in the 
employer's action, unless the employer can prove that the 
action would have been taken in the absence of such membership, 
application for membership, performance of service, application 
for service, or obligation.
    [(c)(1) An employer may not discriminate in employment 
against or take any adverse employment action against any 
person because such person has taken an action to enforce a 
protection afforded any person under this chapter, has 
testified or otherwise made a statement in or in connection 
with any proceeding under this chapter, has assisted or 
otherwise participated in an investigation under this chapter, 
or has exercised a right provided for in this chapter.
    [(2) The prohibition in paragraph (1) shall apply with 
respect to a person regardless of whether that person has 
performed service in the uniformed services and shall apply to 
any position of employment, including a position that is 
described in section 4312(d)(1)(C).]
    (b) An employer may not discriminate in employment against 
or take any adverse employment action against any person 
because such person (1) has taken an action to enforce a 
protection afforded any person under this chapter, (2) has 
testified or otherwise made a statement in or in connection 
with any proceeding under this chapter, (3) has assisted or 
otherwise participated in an investigation under this chapter, 
or (4) has exercised a right provided for in this chapter. This 
subsection shall apply with respect to a person regardless of 
whether the person has performed service in the uniformed 
services.
    (c) An employer shall be considered to have engaged in 
actions prohibited--
          (1) under subsection (a), if the person's membership, 
        application for membership, service, application for 
        service, or obligation for service in the uniformed 
        services is a motivating factor in the employer's 
        action, unless the employer can prove that the action 
        would have been taken in the absence of such 
        membership, application for membership, service, 
        application for service, or obligation for service; or
          (2) under subsection (b), if the person's (A) action 
        to enforce a protection afforded any person under this 
        chapter, (B) testimony or making of a statement in or 
        in connection with any proceeding under this chapter, 
        (C) assistance or other participation in an 
        investigation under this chapter, or (D) exercise of a 
        right provided for in this chapter, is a motivating 
        factor in the employer's action, unless the employer 
        can prove that the action would have been taken in the 
        absence of such person's enforcement action, testimony, 
        statement, assistance, participation, or exercise of a 
        right.
    (d) The prohibitions in subsections (a) and (b) shall apply 
to any position of employment, including a position covered by 
section 4312(d)(1)(C).

Sec. 4312. Reemployment rights of persons who serve in the uniformed 
                    services

    (a) Subject to subsections (b), (c), and (d) and to section 
4304, any person [who is absent from a position of employment] 
whose absence from a position of employment is necessitated by 
reason of service in the uniformed services shall be entitled 
to the reemployment rights and benefits and other employment 
benefits of this chapter if--
    (b) * * *
    (c) Subsection (a) shall apply to a person who is absent 
from a position of employment by reason of service in the 
uniformed services if such person's cumulative period of 
service in the uniformed services, with respect to the employer 
relationship for which a person seeks reemployment, does not 
exceed five years, except that any such period of service shall 
not include any service--
          (1) * * *
          * * * * * * *
          (3) performed as required pursuant to [section 270] 
        section 10147 of title 10, under section 502(a) or 503 
        of title 32, or to fulfill additional training 
        requirements determined and certified in writing by the 
        Secretary concerned, to be necessary for professional 
        development, or for completion of skill training or 
        retraining; or
          (4) performed by a member of a uniformed service who 
        is--
                  (A) ordered to or retained on active duty 
                under [section 672(a), 672(g), 673, 673b, 673c, 
                or 688] section 688, 12301(a), 12301(g), 12302, 
                12304, or 12305 of title 10 or under section 
                331, 332, 359, 360, 367, or 712 of title 14;
                  (B) [ordered to or retained on active duty 
                (other than for training) under any provision 
                of law during a war or during a national 
                emergency declared by the President or the 
                Congress;] ordered to or retained on active 
                duty (other than for training) under any 
                provision of law because of a war or national 
                emergency declared by the President or the 
                Congress, as determined by the Secretary 
                concerned;
                  (C) ordered to active duty (other than for 
                training) in support, as determined by the 
                Secretary concerned, of an operational mission 
                for which personnel have been ordered to active 
                duty under [section 673b] section 12304 of 
                title 10;
                  (D) * * *
                  (E) called into Federal service as a member 
                of the National Guard under chapter 15 of title 
                10 or under [section 3500 or 8500] section 
                12406 of title 10.
    (d)(1) * * *
    (2) In any proceeding involving an issue of whether--
          (A) * * *
          * * * * * * *
          (C) the employment referred to in paragraph (1)(C) 
        [is brief or for a nonrecurrent period and without a 
        reasonable expectation] is for a brief, nonrecurrent 
        period and there is no reasonable expectation that such 
        employment will continue indefinitely or for a 
        significant period,
the employer shall have the burden of proving the impossibility 
or unreasonableness, undue hardship, or the brief or 
nonrecurrent nature of the employment without a reasonable 
expectation of continuing indefinitely or for a significant 
period.

Sec. 4313. Reemployment positions

    (a) Subject to subsection (b) (in the case of any employee) 
and sections 4314 and 4315 (in the case of an employee of the 
Federal Government), a person entitled to reemployment under 
section 4312, upon completion of a period of service in the 
uniformed services, shall be promptly reemployed in a position 
of employment in accordance with the following order of 
priority:
          (1) * * *
          * * * * * * *
          (4) In the case of a person who (A) is not qualified 
        to be employed in (i) the position of employment in 
        which the person would have been employed if the 
        continuous employment of such person with the employer 
        had not been interrupted by such service, or (ii) in 
        the position of employment in which such person was 
        employed on the date of the commencement of the service 
        in the [uniform services] uniformed services for any 
        reason (other than disability incurred in, or 
        aggravated during, service in the uniformed services), 
        and (B) cannot become qualified with reasonable efforts 
        by the employer, in any other position of [lesser 
        status and pay which] which is the nearest 
        approximation to a position referred to first in clause 
        (A)(i) and then in clause (A)(ii) which such person is 
        qualified to perform, with full seniority.
          * * * * * * *

Sec. 4316. Rights, benefits, and obligations of persons absent from 
                    employment for service in a uniformed service

    (a) * * *
          * * * * * * *
    (d) Any person whose employment with an employer is 
interrupted by a period of service in the uniformed services 
shall be permitted, upon request of that person, to use during 
such period of service any vacation, annual, or similar leave 
with pay accrued by the person before the commencement of such 
service. No employer may require any such person to use 
vacation, annual, or similar leave during such period of 
service.

Sec. 4317. Health plans

    [(a)(1)(A) Subject to paragraphs (2) and (3), in] (a)(1) In 
any case in which a person (or the person's dependents) has 
coverage under a health plan in connection with the person's 
position of employment, including a group health plan (as 
defined in section 607(1) of the Employee Retirement Income 
Security Act of 1974), and such person is absent from such 
position of employment by reason of service in the uniformed 
services, the plan shall provide that the person may elect to 
continue such coverage as provided in this subsection. The 
maximum period of coverage of a person and the person's 
dependents under such an election shall be the lesser of--
          [(i)] (A) the 18-month period beginning on the date 
        on which the person's absence begins; or
          [(ii)] (B) the day after the date on which the person 
        fails to apply for or return to a position of 
        employment, as determined under section 4312(e).
    [(B)] (2) A person who elects to continue health-plan 
coverage under this paragraph may be required to pay not more 
than 102 percent of the full premium under the plan (determined 
in the same manner as the applicable premium under section 
4980B(f)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986) associated 
with such coverage for the employer's other employees, except 
that in the case of a person who performs service in the 
uniformed services for less than 31 days, such person may not 
be required to pay more than the employee share, if any, for 
such coverage.
    [(C)] (3) In the case of a health plan that is a 
multiemployer plan, as defined in section 3(37) of the Employee 
Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, any liability under the 
plan for employer contributions and benefits arising under this 
paragraph shall be allocated--
          [(i)] (A) by the plan in such manner as the plan 
        sponsor shall provide; or
          [(ii)] (B) if the sponsor does not provide--
                  [(I)] (i) to the last employer employing the 
                person before the period served by the person 
                in the uniformed services, or
                  [(II)] (ii) if such last employer is no 
                longer functional, to the plan.

Sec. 4318. Employee pension benefit plans

    (a)(1)(A) * * *
    (b)(1) * * *
    (2) A person reemployed under this chapter shall be 
entitled to accrued benefits pursuant to subsection (a) that 
are contingent on the making of, or derived from, employee 
contributions or elective deferrals (as defined in section 
402(g)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986) only to the 
extent the person makes payment to the plan with respect to 
such contributions or deferrals. No such payment may exceed the 
amount the person would have been permitted or required to 
contribute had the person remained continuously employed by the 
employer throughout the period of service described in 
subsection (a)(2)(B). Any payment to the plan described in this 
paragraph shall be made during the period beginning with the 
date of reemployment and whose duration is three times the 
period of the person's service in the uniformed [services,] 
services, such payment period not to exceed five years.
          * * * * * * *

      Subchapter III--Procedures for Assistance, Enforcement, and 
                             Investigation

          * * * * * * *

Sec. 4322. Enforcement of employment or reemployment rights

    (a) * * *
          * * * * * * *
    (d) The Secretary shall investigate each complaint 
submitted pursuant to subsection (a). If the Secretary 
determines as a result of the investigation that the action 
alleged in such complaint occurred, the Secretary shall attempt 
to resolve the complaint by making reasonable efforts to ensure 
that the person or entity named in the complaint complies with 
the provisions of this chapter.
    (e) If the efforts of the Secretary [with respect to a 
complaint under subsection (d) are unsuccessful,] with respect 
to any complaint filed under subsection (a) do not resolve the 
complaint, the Secretary shall notify the person who submitted 
the complaint of--
          (1) * * *
          (2) the complainant's entitlement to proceed under 
        the enforcement of rights provisions provided under 
        section 4323 (in the case of a person submitting a 
        complaint against a State or private employer) or 
        section 4324 (in the case of a person submitting a 
        complaint against a Federal executive agency or the 
        Office of Personnel Management).
          * * * * * * *

Sec. 4323. Enforcement of rights with respect to a State or private 
                    employer

    (a)(1) A person who receives from the Secretary a 
notification pursuant to section 4322(e) [of an unsuccessful 
effort to resolve a complaint] relating to a State (as an 
employer) or a private employer may request that the Secretary 
refer the complaint to the Attorney General. If the Attorney 
General is reasonably satisfied that the person on whose behalf 
the complaint is referred is entitled to the rights or benefits 
sought, the Attorney General may appear on behalf of, and act 
as attorney for, the person on whose behalf the complaint is 
submitted and commence an action for appropriate relief for 
such person in an appropriate United States district court.
    (2) A person may commence an action for relief with respect 
to a complaint if that person--
          (A) has chosen not to apply to the Secretary for 
        assistance [regarding the complaint under section 
        4322(c)] under section 4322(a);
          * * * * * * *

Sec. 4324. Enforcement of rights with respect to Federal executive 
                    agencies

    (a)(1) A person who receives from the Secretary a 
notification pursuant to section 4322(e) [of an unsuccessful 
effort to resolve a complaint relating to a Federal executive 
agency] may request that the Secretary refer the complaint for 
litigation before the Merit Systems Protection Board. The 
Secretary shall refer the complaint to the Office of Special 
Counsel established by section 1211 of title 5.
    (2)(A) * * *
          * * * * * * *
    (b) A person may submit a complaint against a Federal 
executive agency or the Office of Personnel Management under 
this subchapter directly to the Merit Systems Protection Board 
if that person--
          (1) has chosen not to apply to the Secretary for 
        assistance [regarding a complaint under section 
        4322(c)] under section 4322(a);
          (2) * * *
          * * * * * * *
    (c)(1) * * *
    (2) If the Board determines that a Federal executive agency 
or the Office of Personnel Management has not complied with the 
provisions of this chapter relating to the employment or 
reemployment of a person by the agency, the Board shall enter 
an order requiring the agency or [employee] Office to comply 
with such provisions and to compensate such person for any loss 
of wages or benefits suffered by such person by reason of such 
lack of compliance.
          * * * * * * *

Sec. 4325. Enforcement of rights with respect to certain Federal 
                    agencies

    (a) * * *
          * * * * * * *
    (d) This section may not be construed--
          (1) as prohibiting an employee of an agency referred 
        to in subsection (a) from seeking information from the 
        Secretary regarding assistance in seeking reemployment 
        from the agency under this chapter[, alternative 
        employment in the Federal Government under this 
        chapter,] or information relating to the rights and 
        obligations of [employee] employees and Federal 
        agencies under this chapter; or
          * * * * * * *

Sec. 4326. Conduct of investigation; subpoenas

    (a) In carrying out any investigation under this chapter, 
the Secretary's duly authorized representatives shall, at all 
reasonable times, have reasonable access to and the right to 
interview persons with information relevant to the 
investigation and shall have reasonable access to, for purposes 
of examination, and the right to copy and receive, any 
documents of any person or employer that the Secretary 
considers relevant to the investigation.
          * * * * * * *

               PART IV--GENERAL ADMINISTRATIVE PROVISIONS

          * * * * * * *

          CHAPTER 53--SPECIAL PROVISIONS RELATING TO BENEFITS

Sec.

5301. * * *
          * * * * * * *
5313a. Limitation on payment of clothing allowance to incarcerated 
          veterans.
          * * * * * * *

Sec. 5313A. Limitation on payment of clothing allowance to incarcerated 
                    veterans

    In the case of a veteran incarcerated in a Federal, State, 
or local penal institution for a period in excess of sixty days 
and furnished clothing without charge by the institution, the 
amount of any clothing allowance payable to the veteran under 
section 1162 of this title shall be reduced by an amount equal 
to 1/365th of the amount of the allowance otherwise payable 
under that section for each day during the 12-month period 
preceding the date of the payment of the allowance on which the 
veteran was so incarcerated.
          * * * * * * *

                    CHAPTER 59--AGENTS AND ATTORNEYS

          * * * * * * *

Sec. 5902. Recognition of representatives of organizations

    (a)(1) * * *
          * * * * * * *
    (c)(1) Unless a claimant specifically indicates in a power 
of attorney filed with the Department a desire to appoint only 
a recognized representative of an organization listed in or 
approved under subsection (a), the Secretary may, for any 
purpose, treat the power of attorney naming such an 
organization, a specific office of such an organization, or a 
recognized representative of such an organization as the 
claimant's representative as an appointment of the entire 
organization as the claimant's representative.
    (2) Whenever the Secretary is required or permitted to 
notify a claimant's representative, and the claimant has named 
in a power of attorney an organization listed in or approved 
under subsection (a), a specific office of such an 
organization, or a recognized representative of such an 
organization without specifically indicating a desire to 
appoint only a recognized representative of the organization, 
the Secretary shall notify the organization at the address 
designated by the organization for the purpose of receiving the 
notification concerned.
    [(c)] (d) Service rendered in connection with any such 
claim, while not on active duty, by any retired officer, 
warrant officer, or enlisted member of the Armed Forces 
recognized under this section shall not be a violation of 
sections 203, 205, 206, or 207 of title 18.
          * * * * * * *

             PART V--BOARDS, ADMINISTRATIONS, AND SERVICES

                 CHAPTER 71--BOARD OF VETERANS' APPEALS

          * * * * * * *

Sec. 7104. Jurisdiction of the Board

    (a) * * *
          * * * * * * *
    [(e) After reaching a decision in a case, the Board shall 
promptly mail a copy of its written decision to the claimant 
and the claimant's authorized representative (if any) at the 
last known address of the claimant and at the last known 
address of such representative (if any).]
    (e)(1) After reaching a decision on a case, the Board shall 
promptly mail a copy of its written decision to the claimant at 
the last known address of the claimant.
    (2) If the claimant has an authorized representative, the 
Board shall--
          (A) mail a copy of its written decision to the 
        authorized representative at the last known address of 
        the authorized representative; or
          (B) send a copy of its written decision to the 
        authorized representative by any means reasonably 
        likely to provide the authorized representative with a 
        copy of the decision within the same time a copy would 
        be expected to reach the authorized representative if 
        sent by first-class mail.
                              ----------                              


                      TITLE 42, UNITED STATES CODE

          * * * * * * *

                    CHAPTER 119--HOMELESS ASSISTANCE

          * * * * * * *

  Subchapter VI--Education, Training, and Community Services Programs

          * * * * * * *

                   Part C--Job Training for Homeless

          * * * * * * *

Sec. 11448. Homeless veterans' reintegration projects

    (a) * * *
          * * * * * * *
    (e) Authorization of appropriations
          (1) There are authorized to be appropriated to carry 
        out this section the following amounts:
                  (A) * * *
          * * * * * * *
                  (E) $10,000 for fiscal year 1997.
                  (F) $10,000 for fiscal year 1998.
                              ----------                              


              VETERANS' BENEFITS AND SERVICES ACT OF 1988

          * * * * * * *

                     TITLE I--HEALTH CARE PROGRAMS

          * * * * * * *

                   Part B--Pilot Programs and Reports

          * * * * * * *

SEC. 115. PILOT PROGRAM OF COMMUNITY-BASED RESIDENTIAL CARE FOR 
                    HOMELESS CHRONICALLY MENTALLY ILL AND OTHER 
                    VETERANS.

    (a) * * *
          * * * * * * *
    (d) Duration of Program.--The authority for the pilot 
program authorized by this section expires on [December 31, 
1997] December 31, 1998.
                              ----------                              


   UNIFORMED SERVICES EMPLOYMENT AND REEMPLOYMENT RIGHTS ACT OF 1994

          * * * * * * *

                Subchapter IV--Miscellaneous Provisions

          * * * * * * *

SEC. 8. TRANSITION RULES AND EFFECTIVE DATES.

    (a) Reemployment.--(1) * * *
          * * * * * * *
    (3) In determining the number of years of service that may 
not be exceeded in an employee-employer relationship with 
respect to which a person seeks reemployment under chapter 43 
of title 38, United States Code, as in effect before or after 
the date of enactment of this Act, there shall be included all 
years of service without regard to whether the periods of 
service occurred before or after such date of enactment unless 
the period of service is exempted by the chapter 43 that is 
applicable, as provided in paragraphs (1) and (2), to the 
reemployment concerned. Any service begun up to 60 days after 
the date of enactment of this Act, which is served up to 60 
days after the date of enactment of this Act pursuant to orders 
issued under section 502(f) of title 32, United States Code, 
shall be considered under chapter 43 of title 38, United States 
Code, as in effect on the day before such date of enactment. 
Any service pursuant to orders issued under such section 502(f) 
served after 60 days after the date of enactment of this Act, 
regardless of when begun, shall be considered under the 
amendments made by this Act.
    (4) A person who initiates reemployment under chapter 43 of 
title 38, United States Code, during or after the 60-day period 
beginning on the date of enactment of this Act and whose 
reemployment is made in connection with a period of service in 
the uniformed services that was initiated before the end of 
[such period] such 60-day period shall be deemed to have 
satisfied the notification requirement of section 4312(a)(1) of 
title 38, United States Code, as provided in the amendments 
made by this Act, if the person complied with any applicable 
notice requirement under chapter 43, United States Code, as in 
effect on the day before the date of enactment of this Act.
          * * * * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (c) Insurance.--(1) * * *
    (2) With respect to the provisions of section 4317 of title 
38, United States Code, as provided in the amendments made by 
this Act, a [person on active duty] person serving a period of 
service in the uniformed services on the date of enactment of 
this Act, or a family member or personal representative of such 
person, may, after the date of enactment of this Act, elect to 
reinstate or continue a health plan as provided in such section 
4317. If such an election is made, the health plan shall remain 
in effect for the remaining portion of the 18-month period that 
began on the date of such person's separation from civilian 
employment or the period of the person's service in the 
uniformed service, whichever is the period of lesser duration.