Sep 14 2021
I recently completed my annual Ag Tour of Arkansas which included meetings with ranchers, farmers and other agricultural stakeholders. I enjoyed visiting with veteran farmers including Damon Helton who discovered a passion for farming after his four years of military service. Helton is a member of the Farmer Veteran Coalition of Arkansas. With his farm and various business ventures, he is very active in the veteran agriculture community. The Arkansas PBS show "Good Roots" highlighted the tour stop at the Farm at Barefoot Bend in Saline County and how farming helps veterans transitioning to civilian life.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) is advocating for improved cybersecurity education to strengthen core physical infrastructure systems and prevent attacks on critical industries.
In a Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee hearing examining potential cybersecurity dangers, Boozman pressed witnesses about the tools available to mitigate cybersecurity attacks on small and medium utility systems.
“Is this an issue of a lack of resources and tools for small and medium systems or is it a lack of awareness of the tools already available?” Boozman asked witnesses.
Boozman has been a reliable advocate for improvements to water and wastewater systems. In April, with Boozman’s support, the EPW Committee advanced the Drinking Water and Waste Water Infrastructure Act (DWWIA) of 2021 which contains a number of cybersecurity provisions including:
- Section 101 Technical Assistance and Grants for Emergencies Affecting Public Water Systems - Requires the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator to evaluate the compliance of community water and wastewater systems with environmental, health and safety requirements. As part of this evaluation DWWIA requires the Administrator to consider emergency situations resulting from a cybersecurity event.
- Section 112 Advanced Drinking Water Technologies - Requires the EPA Administrator to carry out a study and issue a report to Congress examining the state of existing and potential future technology, including technology that could address cybersecurity vulnerabilities.
- Section 113 Cybersecurity Support for Public Water Systems - Requires the EPA to develop a prioritization framework to identify public water systems that, if degraded or rendered inoperable due to a cybersecurity incident, would lead to a significant impact on the health and safety of the public. This section also requires the EPA to establish a Technical Cybersecurity Support Plan for public water systems. This would allow the EPA to prioritize water systems most at-risk of a cyberattack and provide assistance to reduce vulnerabilities.
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies (MilCon-VA) Appropriations Subcommittee held a hearing examining the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Telehealth programs. Ranking Member U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) delivered the following opening statement:
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and welcome to this subcommittee. Good afternoon and thank you to our witnesses for coming today to discuss the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Telehealth programs.
For years this committee has supported expanding and enhancing VA’s telehealth efforts, particularly for rural and highly rural veterans. VA was already experienced in providing telehealth services when the pandemic hit, and the dramatic expansion of services offered during COVID should be commended. It isn’t easy to institute this type of change in any large organization, and the speed with which VA did so is remarkable.
In January 2020 VA provided just over 41,000 patient visits using video telehealth straight to their home. By April that number increased to more than 393,000, and by January of 2021 the number was 798,000. From January to January this represents a 1,831 percent increase in the number of telehealth visits. Just last month VA in-home telehealth visits totaled more than 965,000, so this growth trend is continuing.
Between emergency supplemental and FY 21 base funding, Congress has provided VA with roughly $5 billion to enhance telehealth services. Clearly this has been a successful effort to date, but as this committee looks toward the FY 22 budget and beyond we will want to know more about how VA plans to harness this momentum and broaden access to these services. Behind the enormous growth we’ve seen over the last year are some statistics that show there are still challenges ahead that need to be addressed. In a non-pandemic environment telehealth is a valuable tool to enhance access to health care for veterans in rural, highly rural and underserved areas. When we look at the utilization numbers over the last year, though, we see that much of the growth has been realized in more urban and populous areas. I look forward to hearing more about what VA is doing to address this and what barriers our rural veterans still face to access telehealth services.
Thank you to our witnesses and thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.
Mar 25 2021
Legislation Supports Veterans Exposed to Agent Orange During Service in Thailand
Mar 17 2021
WASHINGTON– U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) called on the Senate to advance his bipartisan legislation to ensure veterans who served in Thailand during the Vietnam War-era get the benefits they’ve earned to help address health care needs developed as a result of Agent Orange exposure.
Boozman recognized the efforts of Mena, Arkansas veteran Bill Rhodes who developed illnesses linked to herbicide exposure and has served as the inspiration for this legislation. Rhodes served in the U.S. Marine Corps and was stationed in Thailand in 1973. His benefits claim was denied by the Department of Veterans Affairs.