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Posted by Randy | June 05, 2015
Wanted to be sure you were aware of some important bills that passed the House recently, to support our heroes:

Helping homeless veterans get back on their feet. I voted in support of the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Programs Reauthorization Act of 2015, H.R. 474, which helps homeless veterans participate in job-training programs and empowers them with resources to better their lives as part of a long-term sustainable solution to veteran homelessness and unemployment.

Providing ID cards to any honorably discharged veteran who requests one. Currently, only retired or medically discharged veterans receive an ID card from the VA. I voted for a bill (the Veterans ID Card Act, H.R. 91) to direct the VA to provide ID cards to any honorably discharged veteran who requests one. This would allow veterans to utilize goods, services, and activities offered by public and private institutions to those who demonstrate proof of military service – without having to always carry their official DD-214 discharge papers, which can be both inconvenient and impractical.

Holding VA employees accountable. The Ensuring VA Employee Accountability Act, H.R. 1038, requires the VA to keep records of all reprimands received by an employee for the entire duration of their employment at the VA. This is in contrast to the current policy, which only requires these misdemeanors to stay on the record for two years.  This gives managers a comprehensive look at the employee while hiring and requires that all employees are held to the high standards for performing their jobs effectively.

Preserving veterans’ small businesses.   Currently, small businesses owned by service disabled veterans have a “preferred status,” which helps ease some of the hurdles of starting a small business.  I voted in support of the Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business Relief Act, H.R. 1313, which allows the spouse of a deceased veteran with service related disability to retain that status for between three to ten years (contingent upon their spouses disability rating) in order to support the growth of the business.

Ensuring veterans can stay in their homes. I supported the Vulnerable Veterans Housing Reform Act, H.R. 1816, which exempts veterans from reporting in-home health aid benefits as part of their gross income when determining low-income housing eligibility so that they can stay in their homes while maintaining the health care they need.

Hiring our heroes. I supported the Boosting Rates of American Veteran Employment (BRAVE) Act, H.R. 1382, which prioritizes contractors who hire veterans full-time when selecting government projects through the VA.  It also holds contractors accountable — punishing those who falsify veteran employment numbers for personal gain.

Our servicemembers served our nation with honor. It is our honor to serve them now that they are safely home.
Posted by Randy | April 21, 2015

Just a quick note – I wanted to share with you the story of an inspiring young man from the Fourth District who I met last week.

Meeting Caleb for the first time, I was immediately impressed by his bright smile, firm handshake, and blend of humility and quiet confidence. This year, Caleb Parsons of Suffolk, Virginia, was named Coast Guard Military Child of the Year – but that is not why he is such a remarkable young man. Caleb stands out because of the faithfulness and integrity he lives with day after day, when no one is watching.

At only 18-years-old, Caleb holds down the home front with his three younger siblings while both parents are deployed. With the help of grandparents and family friends, Caleb juggles caring for his siblings with continued involvement in leadership roles, maintaining high academic standards, and completing his application to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Caleb is a Senior Patrol Leader in Boy Scouts of America as well as an Eagle Scout. He’s active in Air Force JROTC, achieving the highest rank authorized in the program, earning the Daedalian Award for patriotism, and being named Outstanding Cadet three times. Caleb is also involved in the Swim Team and Cross Country Track team at Kings Fork High School, where he’s been awarded the Co-Captain Varsity Award, Junior Varsity Award, and Sportsmanship Award. While accomplishing all of this, Caleb maintains a 4.21 GPA and pursues Advanced Placement Courses. If you ask Caleb what his goal for the future is, he will tell you he wants to serve his country as a Special Forces Officer.

I think, as parents, most of us have no happier moment than when we look into our child’s eyes and say, “I’m proud of you.”

For Caleb, that is not just something his parents can say. It is something his teachers, coaches, mentors, friends, and entire community can say. It is something his nation can say: We are grateful for your service, energized by your passion, and inspired by your example. Caleb, your country is proud of you.
Posted by Randy | April 21, 2015
Recently, I joined my Virginia colleagues in sending a letter to the Hampton Veterans Affairs Medical Center demanding decisive action to address the unacceptable claims backlog. Specifically, we are requesting to know the immediate steps being taken to bring down wait times to the Department’s standards – including a detailed explanation of what is being done to increase responsiveness to patient inquiries and the timetable for resolving the backlog.

As the Congressional delegation representing nearly 368,000 veterans, we have an obligation to ensure our men and women in uniform are receiving the benefits they have earned in a timely manner. Our veterans did not wait to answer the call of duty; they should not have to wait to receive timely, quality medical care. They deserve the best this country can offer – not backlogs, bureaucracy, and blunders.

There is no higher purpose of our government than to protect those who sacrificed to preserve our freedom. Read the text of the letter, here.

I will keep you posted as we look for a reply from the VA. We made a promise to care for our men and women in uniform, and their families, long after their service is complete, and it is our duty to meet those obligations. 
Posted by Randy | April 07, 2015

Daily, we are surrounded by heroes. There are men and women in our neighborhoods, sitting next to us in our churches, coaching our children's soccer teams, and standing next to us at the gas station, who have made selfless commitments, faced harrowing situations, and borne the weariness of battle.

On certain days, the nation rallies together to recognize these heroes – there is Veterans Day, POW/MIA Recognition Day, Memorial Day, to name a few. We say thank you, we shake their hand; there are speeches and parades and tributes. But what about the next day? And the day after that, and month after that? The reality of their service and the scars these men and women bear – whether physical, emotional, or mental – do not change. Our gratitude should not either.

Every day should be Memorial Day. Today, say thank you to a veteran, and take a moment to reflect on the ways in which our freedoms and liberties have been preserved by the dedicated service of the men and women in our Armed Forces.

Posted by Randy | March 30, 2015
In case you haven’t heard the news yet, the Veterans Administration (VA) recently announced that in order to expand the number of veterans eligible under the Veterans Choice Program, they are changing the way the distance between a veteran’s residence and the nearest VA medical facility is calculated. (This is the program that allows eligible veterans to receive access to non-VA providers, to ensure they get the care they need and deserve). The VA will now be calculating the 40-mile rule by driving miles instead of “as the crow flies” miles – thanks to feedback from veterans, their families, and others.

This policy change will occur through a regulatory action that may take a number of weeks, but the good news is that the VA estimates this change will roughly double the number of veterans who will be eligible to participate in the Choice program. The VA published a FAQ sheet on the change here, and has said they will notify newly eligible veterans by mail.

Our servicemembers didn’t wait to answer the call of duty, and they should not have to wait to receive timely, quality medical care. I will continue working to ensure that is the case.
Posted by Randy | March 19, 2015
Real quick – wanted to be sure you had seen this good news. Recently, there was controversy at Robins Air Force Base in Georgia when a complaint was made over Airmen saying "have a blessed day” as part of their greeting to visitors at the security gate entrance.  The phrase was not part of official protocol, but rather a traditional southern phrase offered voluntarily by the greeters.

After review, the Air Force reinforced that the phrase is perfectly acceptable under the new AFI 1-1 policy protecting religious freedom. You can read the Robins Air Force Base’s statement on their facebook page, here.

I will keep working to protect the ability of our men and women in uniform to exercise the very freedoms they are fighting for. To stay up to date on these issues, click here to like my Facebook page.
Posted by Randy | January 09, 2015

In 2015, I have no higher priority than continuing my fight to support our men and women in uniform, and to protect our national security. It’s not just a duty, it’s an honor.

Supporting our American heroes once they return home isn’t optional – it is this nation’s moral obligation. That’s why I’m pleased the House passed Hire More Heroes Act (H.R. 22) this week, with my support, and it’s now heading over to the Senate for consideration.
Posted by Randy | December 07, 2014

73 years ago on this day, approximately 2,000 Americans were killed and over 1,000 injured in the horrific attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

We will never forget that day. We will never forget the loss of those lives – the loss suffered by the heartbroken families, and the loss suffered by our nation as it missed the good that these patriotic, duty-driven servicemembers would have brought to our country. No matter how many years pass by, we will always remember and we will always be grateful for those who fought to protect our country,sacrificing so much that we might be here today.

This weekend, take a moment to pause and pay tribute to those who dedicate their lives to serving our country. Let us remember Pearl Harbor.

If you have worn our nation’s uniform, or have a family member who has served, I want to say a special thank you. Our country can never repay you for your service or sacrifice. We cannot repay you for the months spent far from home and far from loved ones, for the time and energy invested in protecting this nation. But we are grateful. And we will never forget. Fighting for you in Congress is not just a duty, it is a privilege.

Posted by Randy | September 29, 2014

Recently, the House of Representatives considered The Jobs for America Act, which is a package of bills supporting job creation through streamlining regulations, encouraging the hiring of American veterans, and providing relief for small businesses from Obamacare.

Some of the bills included are The REINS Act, (H.R. 367), which ensures that Congress votes on all new major regulations before they are enforced on citizens and businesses; The Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act, (H.R. 3086), which protects internet access for all Americans and fosters growth in the digital economy; and the America's Small Business Tax Relief Act, (H.R. 4457), which ensures small businesses have the certainty they need to grow their businesses and create jobs.

Government should be an enabler of economic growth, not a barrier.

Posted by Randy | August 28, 2014
I believe that Congress has an obligation to address our nation's fiscal challenges in a responsible fashion that does not harm seniors or future generations of Americans.   I introduced legislation (H.R.3161) to ensure that money allocated to both the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds can only be used for the purpose for which they were intended.  Medicare and Social Security need to be dependable and consistent for the seniors who rely on them.

We must fulfill the commitments we have made to our seniors – that after a lifetime of work and service to our communities, Social Security and Medicare will be there for them when they need it.

I will continue working to eliminate fraud in Medicare, oppose access to benefits for those here illegally, provide access to local pharmacies, ensure that healthcare decisions are made between patients and their doctors, instead of bureaucrats in Washington, and prioritize medical research to find cures for diseases like cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s.