My Position on Veterans
We will never be able to repay the debt we owe to the men and women who selflessly served our country, but I believe we must do more to honor our promise to provide them with access to the best health care and benefits possible. Unfortunately, we have seen instances in recent years where the VA has lost sight of its mission to put veterans first, which is why I continue to champion solutions that hold the VA accountable and improve how it works.
For example, I led the Faster Care for Veterans Act to help streamline the scheduling process for veterans and bring the VA into the 21st century. I was proud to see this bill signed into law. I have also been leading efforts to restore 24-hour urgent care for veterans at the Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center ever since it closed in 2014. No matter the time of day, you know you have a place to go. This urgent care facility has the potential to save lives, and I am committed to seeing it through to the finish line.
Additionally, I believe we must do more to address the mental health crisis our veterans are facing. Too many of our nation’s heroes struggle with their own self-worth as a result of the invisible scars of war, which is why I am committed to expanding access to mental health services for our veterans. In 2007, I worked with my colleagues to get the Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act signed into law to raise awareness of suicide among veterans suffering from PTSD and to direct the Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs to develop and carry out a program to help reduce the high risk of suicide among veterans.
It’s extremely important to me that all veterans, no matter their circumstances, are treated with the care and gratitude they deserve. The Veterans Identification Card Act I worked on is a critical part in making sure veterans receive that respect. The legislation was signed into law in 2015 and gives any veteran a chance of receiving this proof of service no matter their length of time on active duty or eligibility of military related disability.
In 2006, I helped pass the Heroes Earned Retirement Opportunities Act which amended the Internal Revenue Code to allow members of the Armed Forces to include their combat zone compensation in their earned income to allow for tax deductions to be contributed to retirement savings plans.
The bottom line is that I am optimistic we can find solutions for our veterans. I will not waver in my fight to create a 21st Century Department of Veterans Affairs.