Measure dropped from ’08 defense act
By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Friday May 30, 2008 16:50:39 EDT
A controversial measure that would protect deployed service members from losing custody of their children because of their military service was approved by the House in a pile of veterans-related bills passed in a pre-Memorial Day rush.
The bill, HR 6048, is a response to several cases in which state courts changed service members’ child custody arrangements, sometimes without notice, while the members were deployed.
“Many cases have come to light where service members who have been deployed have had their military service used against them in custody hearings,” said Rep. Michael Turner, R-Ohio, the chief sponsor of the bill, which would amend legal protections in the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act.
“Recently, my office learned about a service member who, during her custody proceeding, was told by a judge that the mere possibility of her deployment weighed against the best interests of the child in denying her custody,” Turner said.
“Much is asked of our service members, and mobilization can disrupt and strain relationships at home,” he said.
His bill, he said, would provide them “peace of mind that courts will not take away their children” while they are deployed.
Other bills passed by the House would:
• Provide the annual cost-of-living adjustment in veterans benefits in December.
• Authorize construction and renovation of veterans facilities.
• Expand substance-abuse treatment and counseling for veterans.
• Ensure the housing needs of disabled veterans are met.
• Study the effectiveness of vocational rehabilitation programs.
• Authorize the Department of Veterans Affairs to advertise in national media to inform veterans about benefits for which they may be eligible.
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