Serving Those Who Served

Dear Friend,

This Saturday is Veterans Day, a day when we join together as Americans to honor the service and sacrifice of those who have worn our country’s uniform. Every veteran deserves timely access to the healthcare and benefits they have earned. Over the past year, Congress has passed and the president has signed into law four major veteran reform and opportunity bills. This is progress, but more work remains to keep our promise.

In June, legislation we supported, the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, became law. This bipartisan bill increases accountability within the VA by expanding whistleblower protections and making it easier to fire poorly performing employees. We’ve worked on this issue for several years now and are grateful to have these important provisions in law now. 

This August, three more important bills we support became law.

The Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act will speed up and simplify the appeals process for veterans applying to receive benefits. Veterans wait 977 days on average for claims to be resolved, and the VA has a backlog of more than 400,000 appeals. These numbers are staggering and unacceptable. The Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act will shorten the decision-making time and preserve veterans’ full benefits if appeals are decided in their favor. 

The VA Choice and Quality Employment Act provided additional funding for the VA Choice program, which allows veterans to access community-based health services if not readily available within a VA facility. The bill also expands the authority of the VA to fill needed healthcare positions and directs the VA to establish a better process for hiring medical center directors.

We also worked closely with Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Phil Roe to introduce the Forever GI Bill. This important bipartisan legislation modernizes and extends G.I. benefits granted to veterans, their surviving spouses and dependents. The bill allows eligible beneficiaries to use their earned benefits at any point during their lives, and it makes it easier for veterans to complete STEM and other technical degrees that make them more attractive in today’s workforce. The Forever GI Bill passed the House of Representatives unanimously in July and was signed into law by the president on August 16, 2017.

Veterans should always have a shot at the American Dream when they come home. That’s why on November 9, 2017, Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and I introduced the Fairness to Veterans for Infrastructure Investment Act. Congress set a goal that 10 percent of all federal dollars spent on building highways and other infrastructure projects should be extended to certain small businesses known as Disadvantaged Business Enterprises, or DBEs. The federal government fails to meet this goal. The Fairness to Veterans Act adds Veteran Owned Small Businesses to the 10 percent contracting goal. This commonsense bill gives veteran-owned small businesses a better chance of competing and winning federal infrastructure contracts.

As a member of a military family, I believe that doing our part to support our active duty military and veterans is one of the most important obligations we have as Americans. I will continue to work with my colleagues in both parties to put political differences aside and get things done to support our troops and veterans. I will not rest until every veteran in Arizona can get the care he or she needs. If you or someone you know is a veteran in need, please call our office at 602-956-2285.

We are honored to serve in Congress on behalf of Arizona families like yours. We always appreciate hearing from you on current topics and issues that are important to you. If there is an issue that concerns you, please let us know by clicking this link or by calling our Phoenix office: 602-956-2285. Be sure to stay connected through our Facebook and Twitter accounts, and let us know how we can be of service.



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