Providing for the common defense of the United States of America is the federal government’s primary duty. The push by the previous administration to shrink the size of our military forces resulted in a readiness crisis that left troops overworked and ill-prepared to face the vast array of threats to America’s security. After nearly a decade of cuts, my colleagues and I have made rebuilding the military one of our top priorities.
Repairing and rebuilding our military is key to defending our country. Congress is continuing the effort to rebuild our armed forces and ensuring that our brave warfighters have the resources they need to meet current and future threats. I was proud to support the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2019, which will strengthen our military’s readiness, provide our troops with the largest pay raise in eight years, increase the number of uniformed personnel, and ensure that our servicemembers have the equipment and skills necessary to protect our country.
The entire nation owes our military personnel and veterans a huge debt of gratitude, and we must ensure that debt is properly repaid. One of the ways we have sought to repay that debt is through providing affordable health care for military members and their families, both when in uniform and after they have retired. I am a strong supporter of health care for our veterans and recognize the importance of providing full access to all benefits our veterans have earned, through an easily accessible and affordable system.
Millions of Americans joined the service with the understanding that health care would be available to them when they retired. Reports of veterans waiting for months for treatment through a VA medical facility are unacceptable. That is why I supported the Department of Veterans Affairs Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks, or VA MISSION Act. Signed into law on June 6, 2018, the VA MISSION Act streamlines the department’s duplicative community care programs into one cohesive program, expands the VA’s Post-9/11 Caregiver Program to all eras, and includes funding for the Choice Program that is expected to last until the streamlined community care program is implemented.
H.R. 1499, the Hero’s Earned Retirement Opportunities (HERO) Act is a bill that I spear-headed to correct a flaw in the tax code that prevented servicemen from placing income from combat pay into a tax-free retirement account. I am extremely proud that on May 23, 2005, H.R. 1499 became the first piece of substantive policy legislation to pass the House sponsored by a first term Member of that Congress.
Our soldiers and veterans are some of our finest citizens, we will never forget those who have sacrificed to protect, uphold, and defend America and her interests.
If you would like any more information about this or any other issue, please don’t hesitate to contact me.