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Posted by Randy | August 05, 2014

You and I both know: Our veterans are the real American idols. That’s why delays in access to care and wait lists are not only a systemic problem nationwide – they are a national disgrace. We can’t afford to lose focus on this issue. Here’s what I’m working on:

  • If the VA cannot provide timely medical care to our veterans, then we need to get them care at a private doctor. I supported a bill to do just that, which passed unanimously in the House (Read: H.R. 4810).
  • Holding the Deptartment of Veterans Affairs accountable isn’t optional - it’s essential. I supported a bill to allow any senior bureaucrat at the VA to be fired or demoted for poor performance (Read: H.R. 4031).
  • Our heroes deserve better than backlogs and bureaucracy. I supported a bill to evaluate the underlying causes of the severe claims backlog that is plaguing the Veterans Benefits Administration and to create commonsense solutions to help reduce or eliminate the backlog (Read: H.R. 2189).

If you’d like to keep getting updates on this issue, sign up for my email updates and I will keep you in the loop.  



Posted by Randy | July 31, 2014
Last night, the House passed the Veterans' Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act (H.R. 3230) with my support. This bill is a step forward, but it represents a tourniquet on a wound, not a cure to a disease. Much work remains to be done to rectify the situation, and I will continue to let nothing stand in the way of our priority of taking care of our nation’s heroes.

Weigh in with your thoughts on my Facebook page, here. 

Posted by Randy | July 16, 2014
Last month, a Veterans Affairs hospital in Michigan was ordered to conceal all Christian symbols inside of its chapel due to a VA policy handbook published in 2008, which states, “When VA Chaplains are not providing or facilitating a religious service for a particular faith group, the chapel must be maintained as religiously neutral, reflecting no particular faith tradition.”

In response, I joined 22 of my colleagues in sending a letter to the VA inquiring about the policy implementation in 2008 and urging the VA not to scrub its chapels of all religious symbols.

We are a nation founded on the freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. Over time, this important concept has been distorted, and its misapplication has led the public to believe that the Constitution’s intent was to confine religion to the four walls of the church.  But the Constitution does not require the elimination of religious symbols from the public square – rather, it protects the free exercise of religion for every American. 

The 101 members of the bipartisan Congressional Prayer Caucus, that I founded, are in the thick of the fight for religious liberty every day. Learn more about our most recent efforts, here
Posted by Randy | June 23, 2014
An Interim Report from the Veterans Affairs Inspector General concluded that delays in access to care and wait lists are a systemic problem nationwide. If the VA can’t provide medical care to our veterans we need to get them care at a private doctor.

I supported legislation, the Veterans Access to Care Act (H.R.4810), that requires the VA to authorize non-VA care to any enrolled veteran who lives more than 40 miles from a VA facility, or has waited longer than the wait-time goals for a medical appointment. This bill passed unanimously in the House. 

Our veterans are our heroes, and deserve better than waitlists, delays, and abuses.  I will keep fighting to make sure they receive the care and benefits they’ve earned and deserve. 
Posted by Randy | May 20, 2014
The abuses and deceptions that have occurred across the Department of Veterans Affairs medical system are an unforgivable breach of faith with those who have worn our country’s uniform. Our veterans dedicated their lives and sacrificed their health for our country, only to have those entrusted with their care at home systemically fail them in the most horrific ways. While I have great respect for General Shinseki’s service to our country, I believe that Secretary Shinseki should resign and that the VA should begin to fix this broken system without delay.

Also, this week I will vote on legislation, the Department of Veterans Affairs Management Accountability Act, H.R. 4031, to give the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs the authority to remove employees of the Senior Executive Service, based on their performance, from government service completely or transfer them to another position within the current civil service system.  

It is in the interest of our veterans, and out of respect for their enormous sacrifices, that we must require that the problems within the VA are fully investigated, that we take whatever action necessary to correct the problems, and that we ensure the services our veterans need and depend on are being provided to them.

Posted by Randy | May 09, 2014
This week two prominent veterans' organizations called for the resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki.  The calls come amid increased reports of poor quality of care and cover-ups at veterans’ medical centers across the nation, including reports that 40 veterans died while waiting for access to care at a Phoenix, AZ veterans’ hospital.

Currently, over 300,000 disability claims remain backlogged – those pending for more than 125 days – at the Veterans Affairs (VA) Department and the VA Honesty Project, has documented approximately 70 instances in which the VA has failed to respond to reporters’ requests for information.

Question of the week:  Do you believe that Eric Shinseki should resign as Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs?

( ) Yes. 
( ) No.
( ) I don’t know. 
( ) Other.


Take the Poll here.

Find the results of last week’s InstaPoll here.
Posted by Randy | February 04, 2014

Last night, the House of Representatives passed legislation to extend in-state tuition rates to Veterans who are attending public universities or colleges on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, regardless of whether they have been stationed in a state long enough to establish residency. While the Senate must now take up this legislation, I was pleased to see this bill pass the House in an overwhelmingly bipartisan fashion. As my friend and Chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Congressman Jeff Miller said, "The men and women who serve this nation did not just defend citizens of their own home states but the citizens of all 50 states," and it’s not only a privilege, but a duty, to recognize them in all 50 states.

 

Posted by Randy | January 29, 2014

Commissaries are a vital recruitment and retention tool, essential to maintaining our all-volunteer military. Even more than that, though, commissaries represent a part of our commitment to taking care of our servicemembers during and after their time of service to the United States of America. Not only are they beneficial to active duty and retirees, but also to their families, who sacrifice so much for our nation. While military members are deployed for long stretches of time, their loved ones back home can still enjoy the services that the commissaries and exchanges provide. Click below to watch the speech I gave on the House Floor, opposing any efforts to close down our commissaries.

 

house floor speech

 

 The men and women who volunteer to serve our nation are not the cause of our current fiscal crisis. Proposals asking them to carry the weight of solving it are unacceptable.

I am also strongly opposed to any changes to military compensation that would break-faith with the men and women who wear the uniform of this nation. That’s why I cosponsored H.R. 3790, bipartisan legislation to restore the full cost-of-living adjustment for military retirees. I also supported H.R.3547, which was signed into law earlier this month.  It exempts all veterans who medically retire, those who receive Combat Related Specialty Compensation, those who receive Concurrent Receipt Pay, and surviving spouses in receipt of payments under the Survivor Benefit Program from the COLA adjustments. Additionally, while no changes will take effect until 2015, it is my hope that Congress will act quickly to pass both these bills and honor our servicemembers by ensuring they receive the benefits they deserve. Read more about my work on similar issues, here.

Posted by Randy | September 05, 2013
Late last Friday afternoon, President Obama sent a letter to Congress stating that he was reducing the pay increase for our nation’s servicemembers to 1%, rather than the 1.8% approved by the House in this year’s annual defense bill. 

This letter to Congress came just one day before the Commander-in-Chief announced that he would seek congressional “authorization for the use of force” in Syria.

At a time when we have troops deployed in the Middle East, and the administration has cut billions of dollars from defense and subjected our military to the devastating impacts of sequestration, I believe it is the wrong course of action for the President to reduce pay for members of the military. I will continue working to ensure that our nation’s heroes receive the compensation they deserve and have rightly earned. 

Question of the week:   Do you believe our men and women in uniform should have their congressionally-required pay raise decreased?   

( ) Yes.
( ) No.
( ) I don’t know.
( ) Other (leave your comments below).


Take the Poll here.

Find the results of last week’s InstaPoll here.
Posted by Randy | August 30, 2013
Last year, I met with Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki and sent a letter to discuss the current backlog of claims at the Veterans Benefits Administration and Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) efforts to turn back the avalanche of overdue claims plaguing the VA for the last three years.

On May 23rd of this year, I sent a follow-up letter to Secretary Shinseki requesting an update on the severe claims backlog.

This week, I received a response from the Secretary, noting that progress has been made over the last three months in addressing the backlog, reducing it by 87,000 claims, from the peak of 600,000 in March of 2013.  That means that there are still 513,000 veterans’ claims stagnated in red tape.  It is unacceptable that there are still over a half a million of our nation’s heroes waiting for the benefits they’ve earned and rightly deserve. Our servicemembers have made extraordinary sacrifices for this country and, while we can never begin to repay them, we have a duty to do our utmost to serve them once they come home.

While approximately 14,000 veterans’ appeals have been pending for over two years, two-thirds of employees at the VA received bonuses totaling roughly $5.5 million at the end of 2011 for “excellent” or “outstanding” performance. Until the claims backlog is eliminated, it is unacceptable for employees to receive bonuses.