News Releases

Murray’s provision solves two years of uncertainty for homeless veterans and advocates, prevents VA from changing requirements for benefits that could’ve left thousands of vulnerable veterans without access to housing 

Sen. Murray: “The men and women who signed up to serve our country deserve our respect, not a door slammed in their face during their time of need” 

(Washington, D.C) – Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, announced that a provision to protect homeless veterans is set to be signed into law. This will permanently prevent thousands of homeless veterans from losing access to housing services.

The problem arose two years ago when a legal review at the Department of Veterans Affairs concluded that veterans who served fewer than two years continuously, or who had an other than honorable discharge, may not be eligible for housing services. When VA instituted the policy in 2014, homeless shelters were told to turn away new homeless veterans who didn’t meet the length of service or discharge requirements. Had this policy been fully carried out, this could have resulted in 15 percent of the homeless veterans population being turned away, and in certain urban areas could have been up to 30 percent. Sen. Murray introduced emergency legislation to reverse it, prompting VA to temporarily rescind the policy change. Today’s language makes the change permanent.

“The men and women who signed up to serve our country deserve our respect, not a door slammed in their face during their time of need,” Senator Murray said. “On behalf of the veterans I’ve met in my home state of Washington, from Longview to Seattle to Spokane, and in every community across our country, I’m so glad we can provide some peace of mind as we all work to eliminate veteran homelessness and address the affordable housing crisis.”

Sen. Murray also successfully secured language in the same bill that will make clear that VA hospitals must comply with the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA). This stems from an incident in 2015 when an Army veteran was denied care just feet from the entrance to the emergency room at the Seattle VA.

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