Adrian Daily Telegram: Upholding our commitments to America’s veterans
November 11, 2019
On Veterans Day, and every day of the year, we honor the men and women who have served in harm’s way to defend our freedoms at home. As your representative in Congress, it is my duty to uphold our commitments to America’s veterans. It is important to me to continue working to improve access to health care, employment opportunities, education, housing and more.
Over the years, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has faced significant mismanagement challenges that have prevented timely access to essential services. With the launch of the MISSION Act this year, along with other new accountability measures, our goal is to reform and streamline the system to better serve veterans. The MISSION Act expands options for health care, as well as opens the doors for partnering with communities to limit wait times for critical health needs.
When service-members return from the battlefield, we need to help make their transition back into civilian life as seamless as possible. Thanks to the enactment of the Forever GI Bill in 2017, veterans’ access to lifelong educational and workforce development opportunities is stronger than ever. This law eliminates the 15-year time restriction for receiving GI Bill benefits, providing future recipients the ability to use their benefits at any point.
The heartbreaking trend of veteran suicides also requires immediate action. Current data indicates that more than 20 of our nation’s veterans and active-duty service-members take their own lives every day. The need to confront the unseen wounds of war is overwhelming. This year, the House has passed several bills focused on suicide prevention, including the Support for Suicide Prevention Coordinators Act, which will help ensure the VA has the tools it needs to boost mental health support.
Another encouraging legislative development is the recent passage of the Homeless Veteran Families Act. This bipartisan bill will adjust the VA’s per diem payment calculation for homeless veterans to include funding for minor dependents. No veteran, or their family members, should be left without a roof over their head.
These bills — and others like them — are great steps forward, but the work must continue. This past year I teamed up with Congresswoman Debbie Dingell and Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin to host Veterans Resource Fairs that provide one-stop shopping for local veterans. These fairs are wonderful opportunities to listen to concerns and connect veterans with available resources in the community. I appreciate the chance to support veterans at these events throughout the 7th District each year.
For those unable to attend an in-person resource fair, my office routinely hears from veterans requesting help to secure the benefits they have earned. We have a dedicated team of caseworkers who are here to help and want to hear your story. Veterans and their family members can call my office at 517-780-9075 if they ever require assistance navigating the bureaucracy and red tape at the VA. It is a great honor to help ensure our nation’s heroes receive exceptional care and benefits worthy of their service.
U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, represents Michigan’s 7th District and is a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Education and Labor Committee. This op-ed originally appeared in the November 10 edition of the Adrian Daily Telegram.