Why it matters: Serving our country in uniform is an extremely noble undertaking. Our nation has a responsibility to honor our promise to the men and women who selflessly place themselves in harm’s way to protect our nation and ideals.
Where I stand: As the son of an Air Force Master Sergeant, I learned at an early age about the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform, as well as the unique challenges military families face. I brought these values with me to Washington where I am working to enhance the quality of life for our servicemembers, veterans and military families.
I am committed to using my role as the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies—as well as my seats on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense and the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee—to affect positive change at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). We have seen movement in the right direction in recent years, much of which has been brought about by bipartisan efforts in Congress.
The VA MISSION Act of 2018 [P.L. 115-182] is a significant addition to Congress’s list of bipartisan efforts to help veterans. This law consolidates and strengthens VA community care programs so veterans will have access to healthcare services in their own communities, improves the VA’s ability to hire high-quality healthcare professionals, expands VA caregiver benefits and creates a process to evaluate and reform VA medical facilities so they can best serve veterans. That same bipartisan spirit needs to be put into action to ensure this sweeping veterans’ healthcare reform law is properly implemented.
Accessing healthcare is just one of the many challenges veterans face as they transition from military to civilian life. Ensuring veterans can lead successful lives after they have separated from service also means fighting for training programs and educational benefits that prepare veterans for jobs in the modern economy. We must also continue to support programs that help homeless veterans find housing and a path forward to a stable life. And we must exhaust every effort to ensure that the veterans who need it get the mental health support they deserve. This is key to reducing the rate of homelessness, opioid abuse and suicide that we tragically see among our veterans.
Our veterans should never face an uphill battle when seeking healthcare services, educational assistance, retirement income or any other earned benefit. I am committed to utilizing my roles on these key committees to ensure that does not happen and to improve the quality of life for the men and women who have sacrificed for our freedoms.