Today We Thank Our Veterans

“The way we show that gratitude to those who have served is to make sure they get the care they need when the time comes.”

-House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

There are 21.8 million veterans in the United States. You know them, you see them, you interact with these heroes every day. They are parents, siblings, spouses, and friends. They are your coworkers and neighbors; they are even your congressmen and congresswomen.

There are currently 80 veterans serving in the 115th Congress, including Scott Taylor from Virginia, the only Navy Seal in the House of Representatives, and Martha McSally from Arizona, who was the first female fighter pilot after the ban was lifted in 1991.

Our veterans are the protectors of our freedom, and we owe them our gratitude.

As leaders in our government, we’re working to show our appreciation and care for our veterans through targeted legislation that will better their lives. Both sides of the aisle have come together repeatedly to care for our men and women in our armed forces. In this 115th Congress, the House has passed 37 bills, nine of which have been signed into law (so far).

Here’s a quick snapshot of some of the legislation we’ve passed to ensure continued and improved care for our veterans:

H.R. 3218: The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017

This bill improves and extends GI Bill benefits granted to veterans, their surviving spouses and dependents. This bill removed the time restriction imposed on veterans to use their GI Bill benefits, enabling future eligible recipients to use those benefits for their entire lives, as opposed to the current 15-year timeline. Signed into law on August 16, 2017. See the bill text here.

H.R. 2288: The Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017

In response to the broken appeals process of the VA, this bill simplifies and modernizes the way in which our veterans file disability claims. Veterans who have a disability as a result of their service deserve to have their appeals decided in an efficient and timely manner. Signed into law on August 23, 2017. See the bill text here.

S. 1094: The Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017

This bill creates a new streamlined and efficient process to remove, demote, or suspend any VA employee for poor performance or misconduct with a concrete shortened timeline, while still protecting employees’ due process rights. This legislation ensures that America’s veterans receive the highest quality medical care and most efficient delivery of benefits. Signed into law on June 23, 2017. See the bill text here.

H.R. 369: To Eliminate the Sunset Date of the Veterans Choice Program

This bill eliminated the sunset date of the Veterans Choice Program, ensuring that veterans have certainty and continuity of care while we work to develop a strategic plan that addresses the need for a veteran-centric, coordinated network of care that utilizes the strengths of both VA and community health providers. We are keeping our promise to our veterans to allow for continued, comprehensive VA reform. Signed into law on April 19, 2017. See the bill text here.

H.R. 1367: “To improve the authority of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to hire and retain physicians and other employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes”

This bill ensures our nation’s heroes receive the best quality health care and treatment from the very best providers. It improves the VA Secretary’s ability to recruit and retain high-quality physicians and other professionals within the Department, as well as correcting deficiencies with the VA’s overly bureaucratic and lengthy hiring process. Passed the House on March 17, 2017. See the bill text here.

H.R. 1259: The VA Accountability First Act of 2017

We all agree that America’s veterans deserve the highest quality medical care and most efficient delivery of benefits possible. This bill ensures that bad actors are held accountable while improving and keeping intact important whistleblower protections within the VA by giving the VA Secretary increased flexibility to remove, demote, or suspend any VA employee. Passed by the House on March 16, 2017. See the bill text here.

H.R. 27: The Ensuring VA Employee Accountability Act

This bill reforms the practice of protecting misbehaving employees. All reprimands and admonishments given to VA employees must remain in their file for as long as they are employed by the Department under this legislation. The VA can never truly serve veterans until it ensures that only the most ethical and qualified employees advance and retain VA positions. Passed by the House on January 3, 2017. See the bill text here.

H.R. 2123: The Veterans E-Health and Telemedicine Support (VETS) Act of 2017

This legislation would authorize VA health care professionals to practice telemedicine at any location across state lines, regardless of where the patient is. This is one way we can make the lives of our veterans easier, so they no longer have to travel for hours to the VA for a checkup or consultation. Passed by the House on November 7, 2017. See the bill text here.

H.R. 918 Veteran Urgent Access to Mental Health Care Act

This bill provides mental health services to veterans who may not otherwise be eligible because they were discharged from the military under conditions other than “honorable.” Passed by the House on November 7, 2017. See the bill text here.

H.R. 4173: The Veterans Crisis Line Study Act of 2017

This bill would direct the Secretary of the VA to conduct a study on the effectiveness of the Veterans Crisis Line (VCL) in preventing veteran suicide. The VCL is a critical resource for our veterans, and this legislation ensures that they are receiving the help they need from the crisis line. Passed by the House on November 8, 2017. See the bill text here.

These bills are just the start in our work to reform and improve care for our veterans. There is still more work to come. But for now, this weekend, we want to say thank you to the old, the young, the valiant, and the brave.

Your service is monumental and your sacrifice is immeasurable.

Happy Veterans Day weekend!

Take the time today to thank one of the 21.8 million veterans in our country.

Do it in person or share it online!

 It’s our responsibility to honor the dedication and service of our veterans.  #VeteransDay