Fighting For Those Who Fought For Us
Every politician pays lip service to honoring the sacrifices of our nation’s veterans, but too many of them then return to Washington and cut veterans’ benefits and services. The truth is, we fed our veterans years of empty promises and left them to navigate increasingly difficult and backlogged systems on their own.
We need to invest in the long-term wellbeing of our veterans by:
- Investing in flexibility of the VA, bringing its services into the places where veterans live through a network of community health partnerships rather than forcing them to travel long distances for care.
- Restoring funds for Medicaid and Medicare that were slashed during the Trump administration. While the VA covers many veterans in full or in part, 1.7 million veterans rely on Medicaid and 9.3 million use Medicare for coverage, and Trump-era budget cuts eliminated access to life-saving care for many veterans.
- Reworking VA policies around coverage for members of the reserve component, who frequently lose access to their military benefits when their unit is demobilized.
- Dedicating targeted resources through the VA for female veterans, who are more likely to experience sexual assault and harrasment in addition to combat-related injuries.
- Expanding coverage and protection for mental health services, making sure that all veterans have access to services whenever they need them. The current wars are the first since World War II that have demanded multiple deployments by service members, which increases the risk of PTSD by 50%.
- Training culturally competent, trauma-informed mental health professionals and better integrating their services within the VA. As we expand the services of the VA to meet veterans where they live, we must include mental health care as part of the suite of services that are available. In the private sector, only 13% of mental health professionals meet the criteria for military cultural competence, and half of US counties (disproportionately rural counties) lack mental health professionals of any kind. Training a new generation of trauma-informed mental health professionals through the VA will also help expand access to community mental health services that veterans can access through the Veterans’ Choice program.
- Passing comprehensive legislation expanding the Veterans Burn Pits Exposure Recognition Act of 2021, allowing a broader class of veterans who were exposed to airborne contaminants in their service to get presumptive status so they may be treated through the VA without delay.
- Ensuring that immigrant veterans complete the naturalization process before their service comes to an end to prevent them from deportation at the end of their service.