This week, we take a moment to reflect on the brave men and women, our veterans, active duty soldiers and those no longer with us, who have dedicated and risked their lives in military service protecting this country.
After more than a decade of conflicts overseas, our last troops have returned from Iraq and we are in the final stages of our draw down in Afghanistan. These men and women deserve our utmost respect. We have a responsibility to ensure their transition home is a smooth one and, for those who need help, we do our part to make them whole again, in both body and mind.
I’ve worked with my colleagues to help ease our soldiers’ transitions stateside, and Congress provided historic increases in funding to help ameliorate the unacceptable backlog in veterans processing and care, effectively dropping the backlog by 34% since March. Similar funding strategies to ensure the mental and physical health of the troops coming home were also implemented.
Sadly, while Congress shielded the VA from the across the board cuts known as sequestration, many programs providing veteran support services are seeing the effects of these cuts. Because of sequestration, tens of thousands of veterans are not receiving transition assistance benefits from the Department of Labor. HUD programs combatting veteran homelessness have been undermined through cuts to administrative funds. Because of a dysfunctional Congress, our troops are returning to a much less certain future.
More needs to be done to assist our veterans, from educational and vocational training, to job opportunities and medical care. But unless or until sequestration is lifted, that can’t occur. Congress must fix sequestration, to provide full funding for the programs our veterans need most.
This week, I hope you take the opportunity to offer a simple “thank you” to the veterans in your life. If you or someone you know requires veterans’ assistance, my office is ready and available to assist. Whether helping secure health benefits or unpaid compensation, or with receiving overdue or replacement medals, please contact my Alexandria District Office at 703-971-4700.