Representative Josh Harder’s (CA-10) bill to   cut red tape to open full U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs health benefits to every veteran of World War II passed out of the House Veterans Affairs Committee by unanimous consent on Thursday.

The move is a critical first step toward the bill becoming law.   

The bill is cosponsored by Congressman Vela (TX-34) and the identical bill is being led in the Senate by Senators Menendez and Cramer. Right now, more than 25% of the almost 400,000 living WWII veterans aren’t using the health care benefits they’ve earned.

Rep. Harder recently spoke on his bill during a House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing.    

“Today, I’m asking that we stop tripping over red tape and needless rules and started delivering health care for the World War II veterans we’re lucky enough to call our parents, our neighbors, and our friends,”   said Rep. Harder during the House committee hearing.   “We can never repay the men and women who kept us free all those years ago, but we can provide them the health care they deserve as they live out their golden years surrounded by their kids, their grandkids, and their great grandkids.”

“Those who made the Greatest Generation truly great are nearly gone. We can recognize these remaining heroes with actions far more meaningful than words. The Veterans Health Care Eligibility Act of 1996 exempted all veterans of the Mexican border period and World War I from the means test required to enter the VA health care system. It’s time to do the same for our World War II veterans,”   said Paul Dillard, National Commander of the American Legion upon the bill’s introduction.   “The American Legion is proud to support this legislation that further opens the VA’s great system to all of our nation’s World War II veterans.”

The VA determines a veteran’s eligibility for cost-free health care benefits based on a variety of factors such as military service history, disability rating and income level. The Veterans Health Care Eligibility Act of 1996 exempted all Spanish American War and World War I veterans from having to meet certain requirements in order to receive VA health care benefits. The   WWII Veterans Hospital and Medical Eligibility Act   will extend the exemption to include WWII veterans.