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How I Made Veterans' Affairs a Priority Issue


Date: Sept. 26, 2018
Location: Washington, DC
Issues: Veterans

When I assumed the role of Representative for Virginia's 7th District, I knew that 54,685 veterans in my district would depend on me and my team for assistance. From the outset, I made serving our veterans a priority. I let these veterans know that they had access to congressional resources just by simply reaching out to my office. And not long ago, I hired a one-star general, Janice Igou, to oversee all veterans' casework and communication.

Since I came to Congress, my office has handled over 350 case inquiries in the past three years. Together, we have been able to help scores of military families cut through red tape and receive the care and recognition they deserve.

What does "casework' look like? A lot of the time, it is simply advocating for veterans who need help by filing paperwork, making phone calls to various agencies, making connections, auditing service records, etc. In short, "casework' involves making veterans who deserve money, awards or recognition get it.

Over three years servicing the veterans of the 7th District, my team and I learned there were systemic problems within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Specifically, there were issues of scheduling medical appointments in a timely manner and assuring veterans receive sustained care. Health records were being lost, and communication between care providers and government were too slow.

When the opportunity arose to reform and update the bureaucracy at the VA, I jumped to help. Chairman of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs Phil Roe had introduced the VA Mission Act -- landmark, historic legislation that will help the VA fulfill President Lincoln's promise to care for the men and women who have borne the battle.

The VA Mission Act ensures the scheduling of medical appointments in a timely manner, it ensures the continuity of care and services and it ensures veterans do not experience a lapse in health care services.

The VA Mission Act's scope is sprawling, but it includes the implementation and transition to a new electronic health record -- successfully bringing the VA into the 21st century.

That's not all -- the VA Mission Act continues to make it possible for veterans to access care services outside the VA system if they live out of driving distance from a VA medical facility or face excessive wait times at their local facility.

It was no surprise this common sense piece of legislation received, broad bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. The VA Mission Act landed on the president's desk and was signed into law earlier this year.

Of course, while we celebrate this achievement, there is still more work to do. To learn how we may better help our veterans, we need your help and feedback.

To that end, it is my pleasure to invite the public to a Veteran's Town Hall where I will be hosting a special guest -- author of the VA Mission Act Chairman Phil Roe. My hope is that this will be a constructive dialogue between veterans of the 7th District, their families and their chief advocate in Congress. I look forward to seeing everyone there and to hear helpful input!