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Veterans Affairs

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 our country, and I have a strong record of supporting our veterans. With U.S. troops defending our nation in around the world, it is more important now than ever that we provide our soldiers and their families the resources they deserve both on the battlefield and here at home. 

Getting Veterans Back to Work

Many communities have large veteran populations and many veterans returning home from combat seeking jobs. I supported the successful passage of the HIRE Vets Act (H.R. 244), which requires the Department of Labor to establish the HIRE Vets Medallion Program within two years of enactment, to annually recognize private and public sector businesses for their efforts to employ veterans.

I also supported the Boosting Rates of American Veteran Employment (BRAVE) Act (H.R. 974), which allows the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, when awarding procurement contracts for goods or services, to give preference to government contractors that employ veterans on a full-time basis. The bill would also allow the Secretary to debar contractors who purposely misrepresent their employment of veterans to receive a contract.

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. 

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.

In April 2017, I proudly supported the Veterans Choice Program Improvement Act, which eliminated the expiration date for the Veterans Choice Program. The Choice Program provides critical primary, inpatient and outpatient specialty care, and mental health care for veterans across the United States. Eliminating the sunset date for this important program ensures that our veterans have access to specialists and are not encountering long wait times so they can get the care that they deserve.

More recently, I also supported H.R. 4305, the PAWS for Veterans Therapy Act, which directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out a pilot program that would connect veterans with trained service dogs to help reintegrate our nation’s servicemembers into American society.

I also supported H.R. 299 – the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act. Nearly 90,000 veterans served in ships off the coast of Vietnam and face challenges claiming benefits for their exposure to Agent Orange. This legislation would extend the presumption of exposure to Agent Orange to veterans who served in the Blue Water Navy.

For me, veterans votes are the easiest votes I cast – they are always ‘YES.’ Taking care of our veterans is one of our most important responsibilities, and I am proud to support initiatives that put our veterans and their wellbeing first.


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