Government has few more sacred obligations than caring for the men and women who have served and sacrificed for our country. When you hear the stories of our veterans, you know that we owe them a debt we cannot ever repay. But we can try harder.
Improved Access to Health Care
Unfortunately, programs meant to support veterans in Connecticut and across the nation have been underfunded and mismanaged. I strongly support Congressional efforts to fully fund the veterans’ health care system to ensure that our veterans, both those who have already served and those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan get the full and timely care and benefits they deserve.
During my first 100 days in Congress, several of my colleagues and I sent a letter to President Obama urging the Administration not to move forward with a proposal that would have required veterans to use private insurance to pay for the treatment of service-related injuries. We do not give our veterans health care – they earn it – and I believe it would be unacceptable for the VA to ask our veterans to pay for the treatment of injuries received while serving our nation in uniform. After receiving our letter, White House officials announced that they would not pursue the policy.
Improved Access to Educational Opportunities
I was proud to help pass the Post 9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Improvement Act (S.3447), legislation that will make it easier for veterans to use the 9/11 GI Bill. This law expands access to non-tuition education assistance and extends the program to veterans seeking training that will place them directly in the work force.
Improved Access to Mental Health Care
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are taking a severe toll on the mental health of our servicemen and women. Increased reports of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) among our nation’s veterans have caused me to double down on my efforts to ensure that veterans have access to appropriate mental health care. Since I came to Congress, I have worked on a number of pieces of legislation including the Veterans Mental Health Screening and Assessment Act and the Sergeant Coleman S. Bean Reserve Component Suicide Prevention Act, both of which require service members to participate in confidential screenings with licensed mental health professionals. Mandatory screenings can reduce the growing rates of suicides amongst service members while fighting the debilitating stigma of PTSD. Veterans deserve our support as they recover from battle and I am committed to addressing the PTSD epidemic head-on.
Sharing Your Story
I encourage local veterans to participate in the Veterans History Project a campaign organized by the Library of Congress that seeks to preserve the stories of veterans throughout the country as part of the national archive. One way to honor and give thanks to our war veterans is to have their personal experiences recorded as part of the permanent historical record of our nation. The collection of memories we have already gathered from the fourth district is priceless. If you would like to participate in the Veterans History Project, please click here.
I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress and with the Obama administration to ensure that we are doing all that we can to honor the commitment and sacrifice made by our American heroes. Please read my Veterans' constituent services page for a collection of links to online resources for veterans.