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Title of Law:Veterans' Benefits Improvement Act of 2008
Law #:Public Law 110-389
Passed by Congress:110th Congress (2nd Session)

The following are excerpts, highlighted in red, from the final legislation and/or conference report which contain references to and studies for The National Academies. (Pound signs [##] between passages denote the deletion of unrelated text.)

S3023 Akaka (D-Hawaii) 09/27/08
Enrolled (finally passed both houses)

To amend title 38, United States Code, to improve and enhance compensation and pension, housing, labor and education, and insurance benefits for veterans, and for other purposes.
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SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE; TABLE OF CONTENTS.

(a) Short Title.—This Act may be cited as the “Veterans’ Benefits Improvement Act of 2008”.

(b) Table of Contents.—The table of contents for this Act is as follows:

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TITLE VIII—OTHER MATTERS

Sec. 801. Authority for suspension or termination of claims of the United States against individuals who died while serving on active duty in the Armed Forces.

Sec. 802. Three-year extension of authority to carry out income verification.

Sec. 803. Maintenance, management, and availability for research of assets of Air Force Health Study.

Sec. 804. National Academies study on risk of developing multiple sclerosis as a result of certain service in the Persian Gulf War and Post 9/11 Global Operations theaters.

Sec. 805. Termination or suspension of contracts for cellular telephone service for certain servicemembers.

Sec. 806. Contracting goals and preferences for veteran-owned small business concerns.

Sec. 807. Penalties for violation of interest rate limitation under Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.

Sec. 808. Five-year extension of sunset provision for Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans.

Sec. 809. Authority of Secretary of Veterans Affairs to advertise to promote awareness of benefits under laws administered by the Secretary.

Sec. 810. Memorial headstones and markers for deceased remarried surviving spouses of veterans.

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SEC. 803. MAINTENANCE, MANAGEMENT, AND AVAILABILITY FOR RESEARCH OF ASSETS OF AIR FORCE HEALTH STUDY.

(a) Purpose.—The purpose of this section is to ensure that the assets transferred to the Medical Follow-Up Agency from the Air Force Health Study are maintained, managed, and made available as a resource for future research for the benefit of veterans and their families, and for other humanitarian purposes.

(b) Assets From Air Force Health Study.—For purposes of this section, the assets transferred to the Medical Follow-Up Agency from the Air Force Health Study are the assets of the Air Force Health Study transferred to the Medical Follow-Up Agency under section 714 of the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007 (Public Law 109-364; 120 Stat. 2290), including electronic data files and biological specimens on all participants in the study (including control subjects).

(c) Maintenance and Management of Transferred Assets.—The Medical Follow-Up Agency shall maintain and manage the assets transferred to the Agency from the Air Force Health Study.

(d) Additional Near-Term Research.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—The Medical Follow-Up Agency may, during the period beginning on October 1, 2008, and ending on September 30, 2012, conduct such additional research on the assets transferred to the Agency from the Air Force Health Study as the Agency considers appropriate toward the goal of understanding the determinants of health, and promoting wellness, in veterans.

(2) RESEARCH.—In carrying out research authorized by this subsection, the Medical Follow-Up Agency may, utilizing amounts available under subsection (f)(1)(B), make grants for such pilot studies for or in connection with such research as the Agency considers appropriate.

(e) Additional Medium-Term Research.—

(1) REPORT.—Not later than March 31, 2012, the Medical Follow-Up Agency shall submit to Congress a report assessing the feasability and advisability of conducting additional research on the assets transferred to the Agency from the Air Force Health Study after September 30, 2012.

(2) DISPOSITION OF ASSETS.—If the report required by paragraph (1) includes an assessment that the research described in that paragraph would be feasible and advisable, the Agency shall, utilizing amounts available under subsection (f)(2), make any disposition of the assets transferred to the Agency from the Air Force Health Study as the Agency considers appropriate in preparation for such research.

(f) Funding.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—From amounts available for each of fiscal years 2009 through 2012 for the Department of Veterans Affairs for Medical and Prosthetic Research, amounts shall be available as follows:

(A) $1,200,000 shall be available in each such fiscal year for maintenance, management, and operation (including maintenance of biological specimens) of the assets transferred to the Medical Follow-Up Agency from the Air Force Health Study.

(B) $250,000 shall be available in each such fiscal year for the conduct of additional research authorized by subsection (d), including the funding of pilot studies authorized by paragraph (2) of that subsection.

(2) MEDIUM-TERM RESEARCH.—From amounts available for fiscal year 2012 for the Department of Veterans Affairs for Medical and Prosthetic Research, $200,000 shall be available for the preparation of the report required by subsection (e)(1) and for the disposition, if any, of assets authorized by subsection (e)(2).

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SEC. 804. NATIONAL ACADEMIES STUDY ON RISK OF DEVELOPING MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS AS A RESULT OF CERTAIN SERVICE IN THE PERSIAN GULF WAR AND POST 9/11 GLOBAL OPERATIONS THEATERS.

(a) In General.—The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall enter into a contract with the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies to conduct a comprehensive epidemiological study for purposes of identifying any increased risk of developing multiple sclerosis as a result of service in the Armed Forces during the Persian Gulf War in the Southwest Asia theater of operations or in the Post 9/11 Global Operations theaters.

(b) Elements.—In conducting the study required under subsection (a), the Institute of Medicine shall do the following:

(1) Determine whether service in the Armed Forces during the Persian Gulf War in the Southwest Asia theater of operations, or in the Post 9/11 Global Operations theaters, increased the risk of developing multiple sclerosis.

(2) Identify the incidence and prevalence of diagnosed neurological diseases, including multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and brain cancers, as well as central nervous system abnormalities that are difficult to precisely diagnose, in each group as follows:

(A) Members of the Armed Forces who served during the Persian Gulf War in the Southwest Asia theater of operations.

(B) Members of the Armed Forces who served in the Post 9/11 Global Operations theaters.

(C) A non-deployed comparison group for those who served in the Persian Gulf War in the Southwest Asia theater of operations and the Post 9/11 Global Operations theaters.

(3) Compare the incidence and prevalence of the named diagnosed neurological diseases and undiagnosed central nervous system abnormalities among veterans who served during the Persian Gulf War in the Southwest Asia theater of operations, or in the Post 9/11 Global Operations theaters, in various locations during such periods, as determined by the Institute of Medicine.

(4) Collect information on risk factors, such as pesticide and other toxic exposures, to which veterans were exposed while serving during the Persian Gulf War in the Southwest Asia theater of operations or the Post 9/11 Global Operations theaters, or thereafter.

(c) Reports.—

(1) INTERIM REPORT.—The contract required by subsection (a) shall require the Institute of Medicine to submit to the Secretary, and to appropriate committees of Congress, interim progress reports on the study required under subsection (a). Such reports shall not be required to include a description of interim results on the work under the study.

(2) FINAL REPORT.—The contract shall require the Institute of Medicine to submit to the Secretary, and to appropriate committees of Congress, a final report on the study by not later than December 31, 2012. The final report shall include such recommendations for legislative or administrative action as the Institute considers appropriate in light of the results of the study.

(d) Funding.—The Secretary shall provide the Institute of Medicine with such funds as are necessary to ensure the timely completion of the study required under subsection (a).

(e) Definitions.—In this section:

(1) The term “appropriate committees of Congress” means—

(A) the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs of the Senate; and

(B) the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs of the House of Representatives.

(2) The term “Persian Gulf War” has the meaning given that term in section 101(33) of title 38, United States Code.

(3) The term “Post 9/11 Global Operations theaters” means Afghanistan, Iraq, or any other theater in which the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal is awarded for service.

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