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Andrew Connolly Veterans’ Housing Act gets nod from U.S. House subcommittee

Members of the Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Development gave their unanimous seal of approval Thursday to a five-year extension of a program to help injured and disabled veterans retrofit their homes. U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, author of the bill, said much of the credit goes to a Dubuque veteran for telling his personal story.

The bill, the Andrew Connolly Veterans’ Housing Act, extends the authority of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to provide specially adapted housing assistance to individuals residing temporarily in house owned by a family member for a period of five years, ending in 2016. Without the reauthorization, the program will end this year.

Braley named the bill after Dubuque veteran Andrew Connolly, who traveled to Washington, D.C. this week to provide testimony on why the program should be extended.

“Today I am praying for all soldiers and veterans, that they may have the support and dignity they deserve, without having to jump through hoops, or have a friend in politics,” Connolly said during his testimony.

During a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, Braley said that Connolly’s personal story struck a major nerve with everyone participating in the subcommittee hearing.

“There were representatives at the table testifying with Andrew from AmVets, the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Iraq and Afghanistan veterans associations. These are people who testify regularly in front of Congressional hearings. You should have seen the looks on their faces as they listened and reacted to Andrew’s testimony,” Braley told The Iowa Independent.

“Based on my observations, there was widespread support for extending the program, based on his compelling testimony.”

There is currently no cost estimate associated with the extension of the veterans’ housing program.

“Based on my own personal observations of the impact of this program on deserving families like Andrew and Jenny Connolly,” Braley said, “this is one cost that American taxpayers should never be afraid of incurring.”

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