I have always been a firm believer that the veterans who have contributed so much to this country should be honored with access to the best possible health care and educational opportunities. That’s why I have been a constant advocate for our veterans in Congress, ensuring that the federal government fully honors all of its commitments to those who have served America so greatly.
In recent years, I was shocked to learn of the behavior of officials at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), who covered up delays at veterans facilities in Phoenix, Arizona and throughout the country. Veterans were forced to wait months and years for care they were entitled to. This kind of behavior was reprehensible, and I was proud to support legislation that will fund additional doctors and VA health facilities, as well as allow veterans facing long wait times to seek privately funded care outside the VA system.
In 2004, I was very pleased to dedicate a new veteran’s outpatient clinic in Paterson after a years-long fight for its construction. The first of its type in Passaic County, the clinic now offers primary care and health education to over 30,000 patients and has eliminated the competition and long waiting periods that veterans had faced when seeking the care they need. Recently, I expressed my frustration with a foolish and flawed proposal to shutter our outpatient clinic because it would hurt our veterans. I was proud that this misguided plan was effectively stopped.
I have continued to work hard for veteran’s rights in Congress as well. For example, the 21st Century GI Bill fully covers the cost of an education at any public school and many private schools for men and women who have served in the Armed Forces since 9/11, giving our recent veterans access to a first-rate education. Throughout my time in Congress, I have opposed budget cuts for the VA and fought to increase funding for our active servicemembers and veterans.
In my role as co-chair of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force, I work to raise awareness of traumatic brain injuries (TBI). TBI is considered the signature wound of the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and I have worked to ensure that service members afflicted with these injuries are identified and receive the care and support they deserve.
As a proud veteran myself I will continue to advance legislation improving the lives of America’s heroes, fighting tirelessly for annual military pay raises and mandatory funding for veterans health care. Veterans and active members of our military deserve no less for the sacrifices which they have made for all of us.