WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, continues his leadership and advocacy for Arkansas veterans as they pursue updates to Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits and services.
Arkansas members of Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Wounded Warrior Project, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and other veteran service organizations (VSOs) have met with Boozman in recent weeks to share their 2022 legislative priorities.
“The advocacy of these Arkansans is crucial to crafting responsive legislation that addresses their needs. With their input, we’ve made great progress in improving, expanding and modernizing benefits for all veterans. We know there is more to do, and getting their insight is key to upholding our promise to take care of the men and women who served in our nation’s uniform,” Boozman said.
Legislation backed by Arkansas VSO members include several initiatives authored and championed by Boozman:
- The Health Care for Burn Pit Veterans Act, legislation to help meet the needs of veterans suffering from conditions caused by toxic exposure. Approximately 3.5 million Post-9/11 combat veterans may have experienced some level of exposure to burn pits during their service—many of whom are living with undiagnosed illnesses linked to military toxic exposures—and nearly one-third of those veterans are currently unable to access VA care. This was unanimously approved by the Senate last month.
- The Supporting Expanded Review for Veterans in Combat Environments (SERVICE) Act, legislation requiring the VA to conduct mammograms for all women who served in areas associated with burn pits and other toxic exposures regardless of age, symptoms, or family history.
- The Making Advances in Mammography and Medical Options (MAMMO) for Veterans Act, legislation to expand access to mammography services. It would require the VA to develop a strategic plan to improve breast imaging services, create a telemammography pilot program for veterans in areas where the VA does not offer in-house mammography and expand veterans’ access to clinical trials.
- The Major Richard Star Act, legislation to allow 42,000 combat-injured veterans to receive both their retirement pay and their disability compensation.
- The Vet Center Support Act, legislation directing the VA to assess its ability to furnish the full spectrum of mental health and counseling services, to identify barriers to building new Vet Centers in underserved areas and analyze staffing shortages. Additionally, it directs the VA to identify gaps in outreach resources by examining states with a ratio of only one Vet Center per 100,000 veterans such as in Arkansas where two Vet Centers are responsible for serving a population of more than 200,000.
Boozman and Arkansas VFW members met virtually on Wednesday.
The Senate and House Veterans’ Affairs Committees have recently held joint hearings with the nation’s leading VSOs. On Tuesday, the senator asked the American Legion Commander about the importance of allowing veterans living with a traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health challenges the ability to choose treatments that work best for them.
Last week, the senator asked the VFW Commander about wait times for VA appointments and the backlog of veterans claims that has grown as the result of delays in getting service records from the National Personnel Records Center.