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Posted by Randy | September 29, 2015
Thought you’d be interested in The Daily Press’ coverage of a bill I  recently introduced -- H.R. 3616, the Defending our Defenders Act --  to make sure our servicemembers and Defense Department civilians receive their paychecks during any government funding lapse. Our warriors, and their families, should never have to worry about keeping food on the table or paying their mortgage. This legislation will give them the peace of mind they have earned and deserve. 
Forbes moves to protect pay for troops and defense civilians
The Daily Press
September 28, 2015

Reports from Washington, D.C., indicate that a government shutdown won't happen on Thursday -- the threat "is almost gone for now," reports Politico.

But the threat will return "with a vengance" in December, it reports, which is behind Monday's announcement from Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Chesapeake.

Forbes said he has filed legislation to ensure that U.S. military personnel, Defense Department civilians and support contractors will keep getting paid if funding lapses or the government reaches its borrowig limit.

Key provisions include:

-- Authorizing emergency funds so active-duty troops get pay and allowances without delay if the government shuts down

-- Additional emergency funds to pay Defense Department civilians and contractors at home and overseas

-- Forbidding the furlough of DoD civilians and contractors in public shipyards, maintenance depots and other critical facilities

-- Requiring the Treasury to prioritize payment of military personnel, DoD civilians and contractors if the U.S. reaches its borrowing limit.

You can read the article here.
Posted by Randy | September 25, 2015
This President oversees a Veterans Affairs Administration with horrendous waiting times and staggering bureaucratic mazes for those who have served our nation.

Our heroes deserve better.

That’s why I have supported allowing veterans to seek care from a private doctor if the VA can’t get them the timely medical care that they need. I will keep fighting to cut back the backlog, force accountability in the VA, and provide our veterans with the care they have earned. It is long past time we hold the Administration and the VA responsible for failing to efficiently and effectively serve those who have served this country. Check out some of my other recentefforts to defend our defenders when they come home.
Posted by Randy | August 10, 2015

Although Veterans Day only comes around once a year, we cannot forget the daily sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform -- or the families left behind with an empty seat at the dinner table, who feel like they are holding their breath until their father, sister, son or mother is safely back home.

As the men and women of the U.S. military take on the duty of protecting and defending this nation on the frontlines, so we take on not just the duty – but the honor  -- of having their backs here at home.

That’s why ensuring our servicemembers are properly equipped to carry out their mission and return safely home is a priority of mine. That’s why fighting to ensure our veterans receive the care they deserve and earned is a priority of mine. And that’s why caring for and supporting all of our military families, who sacrifice so much for this nation, is a priority of mine. Click here for a quick round up of some of my other recent work on behalf of those who have served this nation.

Our servicemembers are the true American idols. Every day should be Veterans Day.

Do you believe the Administration is doing enough to support our military, veterans, and active duty servicemembers? Weigh in via my recent poll, here, and let me know your thoughts.

Posted by Randy | August 01, 2015

This week, the Congressional Prayer Caucus lead Americans and Members of Congress from across the country in recognizing the sacrifices and service of our military chaplains, in honor of the 240th Birthday of the Army Chaplains Corps.

Often unsung, our military chaplains have served with honor, courage, and selflessness since the Corps was created on July 29 in 1775 by the Continental Congress, at the request of General George Washington to fulfill the religious needs of his soldiers. While military chaplains are noncombatants and don’t carry weapons, they still follow those they serve directly into harm’s way. Many chaplains have given their lives providing religious and spiritual support for those who have sacrificed to keep our country safe. From the Army alone, nearly 300 chaplains have died while on deployment.

Below is an Op-Ed by Major General Doug Carver, published in the Wall Street Journal, that I wanted you to see. Our military chaplains are invaluable: nurturing the living, caring for the wounded, honoring the fallen, bringing soldiers to God and God to soldiers. Let’s take a moment to honor them this week, and recommit to supporting them as they support our men and women in uniform.

Do you know a military chaplain who has supported our troops and served this nation? Share your story, here.

Ministering During Wartime
Honoring the Service of Military Chaplains, from the Continental Army to present-day Afghanistan
By Chaplain Major General Doug Carver  |  July 31, 2015

Wednesday marked the 240th anniversary of George Washington’s founding of a chaplain corps in the Continental Army. Commemorations were low-key—the anniversary was mentioned on the House floor and highlighted by the “Faith It Forward”initiative spearheaded by Rep. Randy Forbes and Sen. James Lankford, co-chairmen of the bipartisan Congressional Prayer Caucus. Still, it was good to be reminded that in the war for American liberty—for a nation founded on the freedom to exercise religion, and the freedom to practice no religion at all—Gen. Washington believed that the military chaplaincy was essential for the health and well-being of his troops.

I was also reminded of a more somber anniversary coming next month: It will have been five years since Chaplain Capt. Dale Goetzwas killed in action, along with five soldiers from his unit, on Aug. 30, 2010, by a roadside bomb in the Arghandab Valley near Kandahar, Afghanistan. He was the first U.S. military chaplain killed in action in 40 years.

The hardest moment during my tenure as Army chief of chaplains was receiving the news that one of our nation’s chaplains had been killed in action. Emails and phone calls began flooding in, attesting to the tremendous spiritual impact he’d had on members of the military and their families.

An airman reported that Chaplain Goetz had led him to a profession of faith. A couple said that his pastoral counseling had saved their marriage. Two young men entered the ministry as a result of his influence on their lives. A soldier who attended Chaplain Goetz’s last chapel service, inspired by his message that we should live with the same compassion we saw in Jesus Christ, said he had been moved to ask God’s forgiveness of those who were “setting the bombs on the road for us to die.”

Such influence on America’s military personnel has been a hallmark of the chaplain corps since the Revolutionary War. Soon after Washington established the Continental Army’s Chaplain Corps on July 29, 1775, chaplains were organized for the Navy, on Nov. 28, 1775. The Air Force chaplaincy got its start on May 10, 1949.

As the religious backgrounds of the nation’s military personnel has expanded, the chaplain corps has also grown to attend to a range of faiths—Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim and Hindu. Military chaplains, in taking up their pastoral duties, pledge to serve equally all members of the armed forces, regardless of religious belief, ensuring their Constitutional right to the free exercise of religion.

While military chaplains are noncombatants and don’t carry weapons, they still follow those they serve directly into harm’s way. Many chaplains have given their lives providing religious and spiritual support for those who sacrifice to keep our country safe. From the Army alone, nearly 300 chaplains have died while on deployment, and eight chaplains have received the Medal of Honor.

The Medal of Honor recipients range from those who served in the Civil War, such as Chaplain John. M. Whitehead, whose citation says he “went to the front during a desperate contest and, unaided, carried to the rear several wounded and helpless soldiers” at the Battle of Stones River in 1862, to chaplains in the Vietnam War. Their number includes Maj. Charles J. Watters. He was killed in Dak To province in 1967 after having successfully carried wounded U.S. troops to safety while “unarmed and completely exposed,” his Medal of Honor citation reads, “showing unyielding perseverance and selfless devotion."

On my last trip to Afghanistan, in 2011, I met with Chaplain Goetz’s unit. They were still grieving his death and the deaths of those lost with him. The soldiers described Chaplain Goetz as a trusted confidant, a “combat multiplier,” a good friend, “the real deal.” That’s a good description of the military chaplains I have known, nurturing the living, caring for the wounded, honoring the fallen, bringing soldiers to God and God to soldiers.

Mr. Carver, who retired as a U.S. Army major general in 2011, served as the Army’s 22nd chief of chaplains, 2007-11. He is the executive director of chaplaincy for the North American Mission Board.

Read the article here.

Posted by Randy | July 30, 2015

Supporting America’s heroes once they return home isn’t optional – it is this nation’s moral obligation. That’s why I’m pleased the House passed the Hire More Heroes Act (H. J. Res 61) this week, with my support, and is now heading over to the Senate for consideration.

P.S. Click here for a quick round up of some of my other recent work on behalf of those who have served this nation.

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.