WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congressman Leonard Lance this week backed a bill that would boost annual cost-of-living-adjustments, compensation and allowances made to millions of military veterans.

The bill is H.R. 677 and is known as the American Heroes COLA Act.

“American veterans deserve the certainty of fair compensation. Our nation counted on their service and now they count on us to ensure that they receive the benefits to which they are entitled,” Lance said in a press release. “This legislation provides a boost to meet new expenses, support for surviving spouses and families and the piece-of-mind to be able to cover everyday needs.”

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The bill directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to increase the rates of veterans' disability compensation, additional compensation for dependents, the clothing allowance for certain disabled veterans and dependency and indemnity compensation for surviving spouses and children.

Unlike Social Security recipients, the veterans’ COLA requires Congressional action each year.

The bill is the latest in a string of successful veterans bills that have passed. Other highlights from congressional action include:

•For the first time, veterans are able to seek private care outside the Veterans Administration.  Recent data shows that 65 percent of eligible veterans have chosen this private program over VA services.

•Increased funding to tackle the VA claims process.  Congress mandated prioritizing ending the disability claims backlog and improving the transfer of health care records.

•Creating the first Thrift Savings Plan program that rewards all service members for timed served regardless of length of service.