We owe our nation’s veterans and their families a great debt for their tremendous sacrifices. I take very seriously my duty to the brave men and women who have served, and have a strong record of supporting our veterans. With U.S. troops defending our nation in around the world, it is more important than ever that we provide our soldiers and their families the resources they deserve both on the battlefield and here at home.
Ensuring Veterans Receive a Quality Education
I proudly supported the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which provides those men and women who have served since September 11, 2001, the resources and opportunity to earn a college or technical degree. Benefits include upfront tuition payments, books and supplies, and a monthly living stipend. The Post-9/11 GI Bill will ensure that our veterans get the education they need to succeed once they have returned home.
I also worked with Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo Valley Community College, and Kellogg Community College in securing a “Vet Success on Campus” program to assist Southwest Michigan student-veterans who are transitioning from the battlefield to the classroom. Among other things, the jointly hosted program will help student-veterans access benefits, including transition support services and education benefits.
Improving the Disability Benefit System
It is well past time for Congress to streamline the Department of Veterans Affairs’ disability rating process so veterans may promptly receive their disability ratings and benefits. Many servicemen and women return home from combat only to encounter endless delays and bureaucratic red tape in their efforts to receive much deserved benefits.
Getting Veterans Back to Work
Many communities have large veteran populations and many veterans returning home from combat do not have jobs. I supported the successful passage of VOW to Hire Heroes Act, which provides unemployed veterans between the ages of 35 and 60 with job retraining assistance for a high-demand occupation. I also supported legislation to promote veteran employment through a tax credit to employers who hire those who served our nation.
While many veterans are looking for work, our communities are faced with a shortage of qualified emergency medical technicians (EMTs) to provide emergency care for the local populations. In February 2013, the House passed my Energy and Commerce Committee’s Veteran Emergency Medical Technician Support Act (H.R. 235), which would provide demonstration grants to states with EMT shortage to help streamline state requirements and allow returning veterans to enter the EMT workforce without unnecessary duplication of their training.
Providing for the Health of Our Veterans
Our nation has a responsibility to provide the best medical care for our returning servicemen and women. Veteran healthcare must also go beyond the realm of traditional medical care and include treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental maladies caused by the battlefield including substance abuse, depression, suicide prevention, and pain management.