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Bill will help veterans

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By Congressman Virgil Goode

On Veterans Day weekend, I had the privilege of participating in the dedication of the Danville-Pittsylvania County Veterans Memorial.

Under the leadership of Davis Newman, and with the support of American Legion Post 325, VFW post 647 and hundreds of area businesses and individuals, the memorial has a wall inscribed with the names of all service members from Danville and Pittsylvania County who have given their lives in service of the United States. Also, there is a brick walkway where persons may purchase bricks to honor others who served in the military. The memorial is located in Dan Daniel Memorial Park. Many of you will remember Dan, who held the Fifth District seat in Congress for 18 years and devoted his career to supporting the U. S. military.

In support of America?s veterans, the House of Representatives has passed HR 3997 without dissent.

This bill has several important features, among them: (1) Permanently extends the allowance of combat pay as earned income for the purposes of determining the earned income tax credit; (2) Permanently extends a provision that allows mortgage bonds to be issued to veterans regardless of the first-time home-buyer requirement, (current law restricts using bonds to finance mortgages if the buyer had an ownership interest in the past three years); (3) Requires retirement plans from civilian jobs to treat the day prior to the date of a service member?s death as the date on which they had resumed employment and been terminated, thus allowing deceased service members and their families to receive benefits that are contingent upon termination of employment as a result of death to trigger benefits; (4) Extends the period of time that military personnel who receive disability determinations from the VA may file claims for credits or refunds. The time is extended until one year after the date of determination of disability; (5) Permanently extends a provision that allows active duty reservists to make penalty free withdrawals from their retirement plans.

Another bill that has been passed by the House is the National Heroes Credit Protection Act. This bill amends the Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief Act of 1940 to require that any consumer credit information entity that receives from a creditor a negative report of nonpayment or late payment with respect to the account of a person in military service to enter a notation that the account is delinquent or paid slowly due to military service.

A third matter agreed to be the House is a resolution that expresses the sense of Congress that Congress and the President should: (1) increase basic pay for members of all military components by 3.5 percent, effective January 1, 2008; (2) increase basic pay for all such components during FY2009-FY2012 by at least one-half of one percent more than the raise calculated under the Employment Cost Index; and (3) provide a $40 special survivor indemnity allowance for persons affected by required Survivor Benefit Plan annuity offsets for dependency and indemnity compensation.

Please keep in touch with me on issues that are important to you. You may write Congressman Virgil Goode, 70 East Court Street, Room 215, Rocky Mount, VA 24151; or fax to 1-540-484-1459; or call toll-free to the Danville office, 1-800-535-4008.