Throughout American history, the burden of keeping our great nation free and secure has largely fallen on the shoulders of the men and women bravely serving in our Armed Forces. The care we provide to our veterans reflects our gratitude to the courageous servicemen and women who selflessly risk their lives in the protection of others. It is our responsibility to ensure that the federal government keeps its commitment to provide our veterans with the respect and highest level of care they deserve.
I have had the opportunity to sit down with local veterans in Central Washington. I listened as they expressed their concerns about understaffing at Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical clinics and a lack of information about the VA’s programs. Many of the vets described excessive wait times to receive service on their claims and insufficient care from their VA providers. Stories like these are unacceptable and test the promise that our nation has made to its veterans. I believe our veterans deserve our deepest respect and gratitude, and this should be reflected in their level of care. Reports of grave mismanagement and veterans passing-away while waiting for care are unacceptable and must be addressed. I am committed to holding the VA accountable and implementing much-needed reforms.
Recently, I introduced H.R. 3216, the Veterans Emergency Treatment (VET) Act, in response to incidents at VA hospital emergency rooms where veterans have been unjustly refused assistance. The VET Act would require that every enrolled veteran is afforded the highest level of emergency care at every emergency-capable medical facility under the VA’s jurisdiction. No veteran should be denied assistance when they require emergency medical care, regardless of misguided policies and bureaucratic red tape. I have also pushed the VA Secretary to revise the 40-mile rule and clarify the eligibility requirements for the Veterans Choice Program. Additionally, I was proud to cosponsor and vote for H.R. 1994, the VA Accountability Act of 2015, which passed the House with bipartisan support on July 29, 2015.