It’s essential we serve the needs of those who have proudly served our country. It is time for Congress to serve Our Veterans!
I support this Three-Point Plan for VA Service - as a starting point to treat our veterans with the respect and the dignity they deserve.
Members of the armed services make a sacrifice for our nation, with many of our service men and women never returning home to their county or their families. In return for their military service, we made a promise to care for the health and wellbeing of our soldiers, and their military families left behind – quite honestly we are unworthy of the sacrifices made by our veterans.
We are a disgrace when our service men and women have families living stateside who rely on food stamps and other supplemental programs to be food sufficient. When we have veterans who are homeless and begging on the streets for food rations, and/or suffering from untreated illnesses, we as a country should collectively hang our heads in shame, not only for neglecting our duty, but for breaking our word to those who’ve sacrificed for our freedoms.
This is why I support this three-point plan -- a starting point to treat our Veterans with the respect and dignity they need and deserve.
1.REVERSE THE BURDEN OF PROOF FOR VETERANS ADMINISTRATION BENEFIT CLAIMS
Our service men and women who return from active duty with a disability or illness are often faced with providing the burden of proof that their disability, injury, or health issue is a direct cause of their service –“service connected” (i.e., related to their time of military service).
Many of our veterans, particularly those who manifest injury or illness years after their military service, are burdened with a task nearly impossible to meet. These veterans are required to chase down affidavits from former leaders and scrabble for information about the actions or movements of their former military units. This has caused many claims to languish in limbo; sometimes for years and all too often the limbo survives longer than the inflicted.
I will introduce and sponsor legislation to reverse this burden, placing the burden of proof on the Veteran’s Administration. In other words, the presumption would be that a claimant is entitled to benefits through the entire review process, and unless the Veterans Administration definitively proves within 60 days that the injury or illness is not service connected.
If the Veterans Administration cannot meet the burden, or chooses not to pursue a denial of claim, the veteran will receive the benefit.
This change would clear the backlog of claims in very short order and provide to those who have served our country the much-needed help they have earned and deserve.
2.ALLOW VETERANS TO VISIT PRIVATE MEDICAL PROVIDERS WHENEVER NECESSARY
Veteran’s hospitals and clinics suffer from an overload of patients and a shortage of medical providers. Therefor when a veteran is in need of medical treatment, they are often subject to unreasonable waiting periods.
I will propose legislation that expands and improves a veterans ability to seek care from private providers when they cannot be seen by a VA provider within 5 days for non-emergent care or immediately for emergency treatment -- Ensuring such benefits extend to mental health, addiction care and counseling.
3.FUNDING THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION TO COMMENSURATE WITH MILITARY OPERATIONAL BUDGETS
For too long, we have been willing to send Americans to war without considering the consequence such actions will have on our service men and women.
Lawmakers have historically been more willing to fund military actions overseas, than to fund the care needed by those who we send to carryout these military actions.
I will introduce and sponsor legislation that mandates future appropriations for any military operations also includes sufficient funding to care for the health and wellbeing of our returning service men and women.
The mandated funds will not be discretionary and must be disbursed to the Veterans Administration at the time of the military appropriations.
We will no longer use Veterans Administration funds to balance our budget -- If we cannot afford to care for the people who go to war, then we cannot afford to go to war. Period.