Government has few obligations more sacred 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 and must try.
Improved Access to Care
I have been pursuing answers, calling for accountability, and seeking lasting solutions so that our country’s veterans receive the care that they deserve from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). I co-sponsored the Expedited Hiring for VA Trained Psychiatrists Act which allows the VA to hire trained psychiatrists that have completed their residency with the Veterans Health Administration. I also co-sponsored the Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers for Veterans Therapy Act of 2021, which became law. This bill implements a program that uses dog training therapy to help wounded veterans in their recovery.
Veterans should be able to make the decision to stay at home while accessing doctor’s appointments including mental health services through telehealth. This is why I supported funding the CARES Act, which gives veterans the ability to book and attend appointments entirely online.
Improved Access to Benefits
The state of the VA claims process is improving but has a long way to go. I have supported Congressional efforts like the VA Appeals and Modernization Act to address the backlog of disability claims that have plagued the system, and I will continue to support the actions and resources needed to resolve this continuing issue. Veterans should not be made to wait years before an initial rating decision is made or appeal is decided.
I continue to support legislative efforts to take care of our veterans who may have been exposed to harmful chemicals while serving overseas and to ensure that all veterans receive full access to the benefits to which they are entitled. In August 2022, Congress passed the PACT Act which expands access to healthcare and disability benefits to servicemembers who were exposed to toxic substances. This legislation will help millions of veterans, who sacrificed their health for our country, receive the care they need.
To protect veterans from housing insecurity, I sponsored a bill called Securing Electronic Records for Veterans’ Ease (SERVE Act). The SERVE Act mandates the VA to publish any housing benefits for veterans on their online portal. Because of this Act, veterans can more easily access the benefits they earned. The SERVE Act was met with bipartisan support and was signed into law.
Improved Access to Educational Opportunities
I was proud to help pass the Post 9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Improvement Act, legislation that makes it easier for veterans to use their earned educational benefits. The Post 9/11 GI Bill has helped veterans seeking training and college degrees. The Post 9/11 GI Bill is not perfect. We are working to make necessary improvements and common-sense changes to the law to allow flexibility in the program and to make sure that it is implemented as intended by Congress.
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. 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.
More on Veterans
|Rep. Himes Announces 9th Annual “Valentines for Vets” Drive
|House passes Himes’ SERVE Act
|Himes testifies on SERVE Act
|Himes Helps Pass Veteran Suicide Prevention Bill
|Himes Statement on Compromise Bill to Reform Veterans' Health Care System
|Connecticut Delegation Urges Confirmation of Linda Schwartz to the VA
|Himes Statement on Audit Results for Connecticut VA Medical Facilities
|Himes Statement on the 70th Anniversary of D-Day
|Himes Calls for Secretary Shinseki to Step Down
|Connecticut Delegation Seeks Audit Results For Connecticut VA Medical Facilities