Today, House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) spoke on a panel at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) about helping veterans transition from deployment into civilian life. In her remarks, Chair McMorris Rodgers offered her thoughts on the importance of restoring trust in government, especially at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Ahead of CPAC, Chair McMorris Rodgers penned an op-ed on National Review Online, “There’s a Trust Crisis in Government. It Must Be Fixed, on this same topic.
Moderated by David Sands of The Washington Times, the panel also included Bob “ShoeBob” Carey, The Independence Fund; Mark “Oz” Geist, Member of Benghazi Annex Security Team; and SSG. Travis Mills (Ret.).
— CPAC 2018 (@CPAC) February 24, 2018
HELPING VETERANS SUCCEED IN A BOOMING ECONOMY
“For America to be a diplomatic power, America must be a military power. To be a military power, you have to be an economic power. It’s all connected. That’s part of what this panel is all about today. I greatly appreciate President Trump’s leadership on getting our economy growing. I’m proud of the fact that we did get the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act passed in Congress, because every job out there is an opportunity, and it’s an opportunity for a veteran who may also need that job when they come home. We want to make that transition as smooth as we possibly can.”
RESTORING TRUST AT THE VA
“I am committed to making sure, on behalf of all who have served, that when someone contacts the VA, they don’t feel like they’re a burden. There’s a lot of great people that work at the VA, but still working through that initial contact is much harder than it needs to be. A couple years ago, the country was outraged after it heard about the Phoenix VA, where veterans had died waiting to get an appointment….I approached the VA and suggested to them let’s use some off-the-shelf [self-scheduling] technology…of course, they had a different approach. They had to explain that they wanted to develop this internally, $575 million, they thought they could get it done in seven years. There’s a better way. Unfortunately, we had to introduce legislation to mandate that they use just off-the-shelf technology. We’ve got to get focused on mission here. The mission of the VA is the veterans. Restoring trust starts with that initial contact. I’m proud of the work that we’ve done with the Veterans Accountability Act, we’re working on Veterans Choice, getting the veterans back at the forefront of the VA. This has been President Trump’s commitment from the very beginning, and it is our priority to get it done and make sure that our veterans, on behalf of a grateful nation, know that we appreciate their service.”
FOCUSING ON ABILITY
“For those who have suffered injuries and have disabilities, it’s up to each one of us to make sure we’re focusing on the ability. Yes, they may have some challenges moving forward, but…let’s support them and focus on what they have to offer. As business owners, as employers, as a society, let’s continue to celebrate what they have done and what they can continue to offer. Sometimes that might mean a few accommodations and support services for them, but at the end of the day they still have a lot to offer us and we need to stay focused on that and stay focused on the purpose. A job is so much more than a paycheck. It’s what gives you purpose and dignity, and that’s why it’s important that we get [veterans] jobs whenever we can.”