H. R. 1492
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
April 11, 2013
Mr. McDermott (for himself, Mr. Blumenauer, Mrs. Capps, Mr. Farr, Ms. Norton, Mr. Jones, Mr. Rush, Ms. Wilson of Florida, Mr. Ryan of Ohio, Ms. Sinema, Mr. Enyart, Mr. Cicilline, Ms. Bordallo, Mr. Lowenthal, Mr. Vargas, Mr. Grijalva, Ms. Lee of California, and Mr. McNerney) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, and in addition to the Committee on Armed Services, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned
To establish the Commission on America and its Veterans.
Establishment of Commission
established an independent commission in the executive branch to be known as
Commission on America and its Veterans
(referred to in this
Act as the
Congress finds the following:
After more than a decade of war, and much work to help members of the Armed Forces returning home from the battlefield, the United States needs a wider and more thorough process for welcoming members back, taking care of their needs, and reintegrating them into society.
Many initiatives exist that provide help for the men and women who have fought, but there are gaps in our support for veterans that need to be addressed.
The United States has waged wars, but not all are involved in fighting those wars, and the United States needs to be more deeply and regularly connected with members and their experiences in war and returning from war.
Veterans contribute mightily to the society of the United States but many veterans endure ongoing psychological trauma, challenges with employment, crime and dislocation, and veterans’ families and communities are also faced with the after-effects of war in ways that need to be publicly addressed.
The Nation needs a whole-of-society approach to improving the veteran’s position in society, and improving how we welcome veterans when they return, and improving veterans’ experience when they come back, and do so in a way that helps veterans, their families, and their communities.
Duties of Commission
The Commission shall—
not later than January 31, 2014, submit to the President and Congress a report suggesting ceremonies and events to be held throughout the United States to acknowledge the wars recently fought and for the heroism displayed by members of the Armed Forces and the costs in lives and injuries paid by members, families, and communities;
not later than December 31, 2014, submit to the President and Congress a report on the findings, conclusions, and legislative or other recommendations of the Commission with respect to any deficiency in how the United States welcomes back members of the Armed Forces returning home, including—
by studying the entirety of the reintegration experience on the member, the family of the member, and the community of the member to identify any such deficiencies that can be addressed to make such reintegration a complete and positive experience; and
with a particular emphasis on the effects of post-traumatic stress and the other social and health issues of members and veterans;
not later than 120 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, begin convening conversations throughout the United States—
on the effect of war on members, the families of members, and the communities of members; and
addressing the reintegration experience and the gap between the military, veterans, and civilian life; and
beginning on the date that is 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, and at regular intervals thereafter during the life of the Commission, including a final report at the end of such life, submit to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs recommendations regarding the Office of Armed Services and Veterans Public Outreach established under section 9, including how to best conduct an ongoing interaction between members of the Armed Forces, veterans, and civilians, particularly with young people, in which members and veterans share their stories and the effect of their service and reintegration experience directly with civilians and for recorded history.
The Commission may submit to the President and Congress interim reports containing such findings, conclusions, and recommendations as have been agreed to by a majority of Commission members.
Composition of Commission
The Commission shall be composed of 18 members as follows:
One member, who shall serve as chairman of the Commission, shall be appointed by the President.
One member, who shall serve as vice chairman of the Commission, shall be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Four members shall be appointed by the majority leader of the Senate.
Four members shall be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives (in addition to the one member appointed under paragraph (2)).
Four members shall be appointed by the minority leader of the Senate.
Four members shall be appointed by the minority leader of the House of Representatives.
Members of the Commission shall be appointed from among individuals who have personally and professionally experienced the effects of war on the Armed Forces, families, and society.
Members of the Commission may not be an officer or employee of the Federal Government.
Not less than one member of the Commission appointed under each of paragraphs (3) through (6) of subsection (a) shall be a veteran.
Deadline for appointment
Members of the Commission shall be appointed not later than 30 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.
Except as provided in subsection (e)(3) with respect to a quorum, any vacancy in the Commission shall not affect its powers. A vacancy in the Commission shall be filled in the manner in which the original appointment was made.
Except as provided by paragraph (2), members of the Commission shall serve without pay.
Each member shall receive travel expenses, including per diem in lieu of subsistence, in accordance with applicable provisions under subchapter I of chapter 57 of title 5, United States Code, including section 5703.
Initial meeting; rules of procedure; quorum
The Commission shall hold the initial meeting of the Commission not later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.
After the initial meeting under paragraph (1), the Commission shall meet at the call of the chairman or a majority of members.
Ten members of the Commission shall constitute a quorum but a lesser number may hold hearings.
Rules of procedure
The Commission may establish rules for the conduct of the business of the Commission, if such rules are not inconsistent with this Act or other applicable law.
Powers of Commission
For the purpose of carrying out this Act, the Commission (or on the authority of the Commission, any subcommittee, member, or designated staff thereof), may hold such hearings and sit and act at such times and places, take such testimony, receive such evidence, and administer such oaths as the Commission considers appropriate. The Commission shall hold not less than one hearing in each of the several States and the District of Columbia and may hold hearings in any commonwealth, territory, or possession of the United States as the Commission determines appropriate.
To the extent or in the amounts provided in advance in appropriation Acts, the Commission may enter into contracts to enable the Commission to carry out the responsibilities of the Commission under this Act.
Information from federal agencies
The Commission may secure directly from any department or agency of the United States information necessary to enable it to carry out this Act. Upon request of the chairman of the Commission, the chairman of any subcommittee created by a majority of the Commission, or any member designated by a majority of the Commission, the head of that department or agency shall furnish that information to the Commission.
Assistance from federal agencies
General services administration
Upon the request of the Commission, the Administrator of General Services shall provide to the Commission, on a reimbursable basis, the administrative support services and other services necessary for the Commission to carry out the responsibilities of the Commission under this Act.
Other departments and agencies
In addition to the assistance described in paragraph (1), the head of any department or agency of the United States may provide to the Commission such services, funds, facilities, staff, and other support services as they may determine advisable and as may be authorized by law.
The Commission may accept, use, and dispose of gifts, bequests, or devises of services or property, both real and personal, for the purpose of aiding or facilitating the work of the Commission. Gifts, bequests, or devises of money and proceeds from sales of other property received as gifts, bequests, or devises shall be deposited in the Treasury and shall be available for disbursement upon order of the chairman, vice chairman, or designee.
The Commission may use the United States mails in the same manner and under the same conditions as other departments and agencies of the United States.
Appointment and compensation
The chairman, in accordance with rules agreed upon by the Commission, shall appoint and fix the compensation of a staff director and such other personnel as may be necessary to enable the Commission to carry out the responsibilities of the Commission, without regard to the provisions of title 5, United States Code, governing appointments in the competitive service, and without regard to the provisions of chapter 51 and subchapter III of chapter 53 of such title relating to classification and General Schedule pay rates, except that no rate of pay fixed under this subsection may exceed the equivalent of that payable for a position at level III of the Executive Schedule under section 5316 of title 5, United States Code.
Personnel as federal employees
The executive director and any employee of the Commission (not including members appointed under section 4(a)) shall be employees under section 2105 of title 5, United States Code, for purposes of chapters 63, 81, 83, 84, 85, 87, 89, and 90 of that title.
Any employee of the Federal Government may be detailed by the head of the department or agency of the employee to the Commission without reimbursement from the Commission, and such detailee shall retain the rights, status, and privileges of the detailee’s regular employment without interruption.
Expert and consultant services
The Commission may procure the services of experts and consultants in accordance with section 3109 of title 5, United States Code, but at rates not to exceed the daily rate paid a person occupying a position at level IV of the Executive Schedule under section 5315 of title 5, United States Code.
Notwithstanding section 1342 of title 31, United States Code, the Commission may accept and use voluntary and uncompensated services as the Commission determines necessary.
Nonapplicability of Federal Advisory Committee Act
The Federal Advisory Committee Act (5 U.S.C. App.) shall not apply to the Commission.
Public meetings and release of public versions of reports
The Commission shall—
hold public hearings and meetings to the extent appropriate; and
release public versions of the reports required under section 3.
Any public hearings of the Commission shall be conducted in a manner consistent with the protection of information provided to or developed for or by the Commission as required by any applicable law, regulation, or Executive order.
The Commission shall terminate on May 31, 2016.
Administrative activities before termination
The Commission may use the 60-day period preceding the date on which it terminates under paragraph (1) for the purpose of concluding its activities, including providing testimony to committees of Congress concerning its reports and disseminating the final report.
Establishment of Office of Armed Services and Veterans Public Outreach
The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall
establish within the Department of Veterans Affairs an Office of Armed Services
and Veterans Public Outreach (in this section referred to as the
The Office shall work with the Armed Forces, veterans service organizations, the private and public sectors, nonprofit organizations, local educational agencies, and other organizations to help match veterans and members of the Armed Forces with civilian audiences in order for private and nonprofit organizations to conduct ongoing interactions between members, veterans, and civilians, particularly with young people, in which members and veterans share their stories and the effect of their service and reintegration experience directly with civilians and for recorded history.
This Act shall not be construed to increase the amount of appropriations that are authorized to be appropriated for any fiscal year.
In this section, the term veteran has the meaning given that term in section 101(2) of title 38, United States Code.