WASHINGTON, D.C. – Ahead of Memorial Day, U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) today introduced bipartisan legislation that would ensure all World War II (WWII) veterans are eligible for health care services provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Due to current limitations in the law, there are WWII veterans who are prevented from receiving VA health care benefits. The WWII Veterans Hospital and Medical Eligibility Act is also cosponsored by Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.).

“As we head into Memorial Day Weekend, let us remember the sacrifices of our fallen soldiers and honor those still living by providing them with the care and services they need and deserve,” said Sen. Menendez. “This bill will cut the red tape and ensure our World War II veterans have access to the benefits they’re entitled to. This is the least we can do to pay our respects to the Greatest Generation who put their lives on the line to defend our freedom.”

“The United States would not be a free country today without the sacrifice and service of those who fought for our country in World War II. We are obligated to provide them with the highest quality care available,” said Sen. Cramer. “Our bipartisan legislation eliminates loopholes to ensure these veterans have access to the care they need.”

“There are roughly 11,000 World War II veterans residing in New Jersey, and nearly 400,000 nationally. Unfortunately, due to bureaucratic loopholes, many heroes of this Greatest Generation don’t have access to the healthcare benefits they’ve earned,” said Sen. Booker. “This bill would fix that problem by extending health care benefits to all World War II veterans, ensuring they can live out their final years with the dignity and respect they deserve.”

“The fighting men and women of our nation’s greatest generation deserve the utmost respect and care for their service in World War II,” said Sen. Daines. “This bipartisan bill is about ensuring that all World War II veterans have access to VA services. It important our veterans who served bravely in defense of our country have access to the care they need.”

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.

Last year, The American Legion called on the VA to extend the exemption to WWII veterans and in 2017 delegates at their national convention unanimously passed a resolution calling for an amendment to the 1996 bill to include WWII veterans.

“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 James W. “Bill” Oxford, National Commander of The American Legion. “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.”