Former VA Acting Secretary Peter O’Rourke Applauds Louisiana Legislature for Voting Overwhelmingly in Favor of SB 159: Protecting Veterans’ Rights with the Preserving Lawful Utilization of Services Act

Baton Rouge, Louisiana, May 23, 2024 — Former Acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and President of the National Association for Veteran Rights (NAVR), Peter O’Rourke, applauds the Louisiana Legislature for their resounding support of Senate Bill 159 (SB 159), the Preserving Lawful Utilization of Services for Veterans Act. Authored by Senator Stewart Cathey Jr., SB159 signifies a significant step forward in safeguarding the rights and choices of Louisiana’s Veterans.

“The Louisiana Legislature’s overwhelming bi-partisan support in favor of SB 159 is a triumph for Veterans across the state,” said O’Rourke, a U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force Veteran. “This bill is a crucial measure to protect Veterans from unscrupulous practices and ensure they have access to ethical and transparent assistance when applying for their VA disability benefits.”

SB 159 will eliminate upfront fees, mandate transparent fee structures, and prohibit predatory solicitation practices. O’Rourke emphasizes that these measures are essential for safeguarding Veterans from exploitation while preserving their autonomy in the disability claims process.

In alignment with federal efforts led by Louisiana Senator John Kennedy, SB 159 defends Veterans’ access to ethical free market options. It imposes penalties on bad actors seeking to take advantage of Veterans’ vulnerabilities. Similar legislation has garnered bipartisan support in the U.S. House of Representatives, demonstrating a unified commitment to protecting Veterans’ rights at both state and federal levels.

O’Rourke highlights the comprehensive regulations introduced by SB 159 to ensure ethical practices. “This bill establishes strong guardrails with penalties for non-compliance, including fair compensation guidelines, transparent disclosure requirements, and penalties for violations,” O’Rourke stated. “These measures align seamlessly with NAVR’s mission to promote ethical business practices and advocate for Veteran-owned businesses.”

Addressing recent opposition from various national Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs), O’Rourke emphasizes that SB 159 offers effective solutions tailored to the diverse needs of Louisiana’s Veterans. “The status quo is unacceptable, and inaccurate legal opinions only harm Louisiana Veterans who choose the assistance that best meets their needs,” he said.

SB 159 will now move to Governor Jeff Landry’s desk for signature. O’Rourke strongly encourages Governor Landry to sign SB 159 into law, ensuring Louisiana’s Veterans have choice, autonomy, and protection in the disability claims process.

About NAVR:

The National Association for Veteran Rights (NAVR) is a national trade association committed to promoting ethical and transparent business practices among companies engaging with the service-disabled Veteran community. NAVR advocates for businesses that empower Veterans with professional and transparent solutions while advancing support for Veteran-owned businesses.

Additional Information:

U.S. Senator John Kennedy (R-La.) introduced the Preserving Lawful Utilization of Services (PLUS) for Veterans Act of 2023 to help Veterans access the greatest benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare system by preserving their right to work with private groups when filing claims.

Representatives Jack Bergman (R-Mich.) and Lou Correa (D-CA) introduced the Preserving Lawful Utilization of Services (PLUS) for Veterans Act of 2023 in the U.S. House of Representatives.


For more information, contact