Rep. Steven Palazzo represents the 4th Congressional District in Mississippi. He hosted two Veterans Forums & Resource Fairs this week and blogged about the experience.
As a Marine veteran of the Persian Gulf War and a member of the Mississippi National Guard, one of my top priorities is ensuring Mississippi veterans receive the best service possible. Yet, we continue to learn how our heroes have been subjected to careless and shameful treatment at the hands of the very government they fought to protect.
This week I hosted two Veterans Forums & Resource Fairs in South Mississippi. I invited local veterans to a forum to address issues at the VA and to share their stories – and they did. Approximately 200 veterans showed up to voice their concerns and receive assistance with VA issues. I was able to meet with many of these veterans individually and hear their concerns firsthand. Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen from every major conflict – World War II through the War on Terror – came out to meet with my office.
I also had an opportunity to share the proposals we’re working on in Congress to help fix the VA’s failures: firing top leadership, increasing accountability and transparency, protecting whistleblowers, ending the abuse of bonuses, and providing private health care options for veterans who have been stuck on long waitlists or live far from VA facilities.
I was also pleased to partner with local chapters of organizations such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, Combat Wounded Veterans of South Mississippi, and County Veterans Service Officers in hosting these events. These valuable partners were able to educate attendees on the critical services and support they provide for veterans.
These veterans are naturally frustrated with the VA’s bureaucratic barriers, delays in care, and in some cases, negligent care. They have known for quite some time that the VA system just isn’t working. As we in Congress work to right the wrongs within the Department of Veterans Affairs and assist local veterans with benefits and other services, we must remember to engage those who are the ultimate authorities on the matter: veterans.
I’ve also set up a special page on my web site where Mississippi veterans can share their stories: www.palazzo.house.gov/VAstories. This week’s forums are part of the ongoing conversations I’ll continue with Mississippians in the coming months. We must do everything within our power to ensure veterans are receiving the best service and care possible.
– Congressman Steven Palazzo, (MS04)