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.
Posted by Randy | May 31, 2013
Last week, leading up to Memorial Day, the House passed three measures supporting our nation’s veterans:
I also sent a letter to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs Secretary Shinseki, expressing my continued concern regarding the disability claims backlog. I met with the Secretary last year, and will continue working to ensure that these claims are processed, and veterans are afforded the benefits they deserve.
Posted by Randy | November 08, 2012
As our nation marks Veteran’s Day this Sunday, November 11th, we honor those who have served our country in the line of duty. Our veterans are all around us in Virginia, where the 4th district is home to one of the highest populations of veterans in the nation. I urge you all to pause and spend some time with a soldier, sailor, airman or Marine. Whether still on active duty, the Reserves, or a former military member, these brave men and women have served their country and sacrificed so much for all of us. It is our responsibility to recognize their sacrifice and commitment, preserve the legacy of their service, and pass this on to future generations.
Posted by Randy | June 11, 2012
Today, I called on Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki to address the underlying causes of the severe claims backlog plaguing the Veterans Benefits Administration.
Posted by Randy | June 05, 2012
“The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you.” – General Dwight Eisenhower, D-Day, 1944.
Posted by Randy | February 02, 2012
As you may know, Arlington Cemetery has been under an ongoing investigation regarding burial mismanagement that was revealed in June 2010.
Joint Hearing: Update on Accountability at Arlington National Cemetery
Friday, February 3, 2012
(Note: Timing of the hearing is subject to change if votes are called in the House.)
The Arlington Cemetery burial mismanagement reports continue to be tragic for us as a nation and for the families of the men and women who have selflessly and faithfully served our nation. I’m hopeful that this hearing will prove that the accountability issues are being rightfully addressed.
Posted by Randy | January 10, 2012
This weekend, I traveled to Fort Lee to celebrate the return home of the last support battalion to leave Iraq. The 275th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion served a 10-month mission and became responsible for bringing American troops home -- they directed logistics for the remaining military personnel and supplies until the December 31 complete withdrawal of troops from Iraq. These men and women were a part of the last unit in Iraq, signifying the end of the conflict.
I was filled with gratitude for their service as I shook the hands of our military men and women who were returning and watched as families were reunited. We are so very grateful to be amongst men and women of such courage.
Here are some photos of the ceremony as we welcomed home our heroes. Let’s express our gratitude for their service to our nation:
Posted by Randy | December 09, 2011
"No religious items (ie: Bibles, reading material, and/or artifacts) are allowed to be given away or used during a visit."
Those words were included in a memo issued September 14 by Walter Reed Medical Center, one of our nation’s primary medical facilities for thousands of wounded military men and women.
The policy was brought to the attention of my colleagues and me, along with valid concerns that family members or pastors would not be able to bring Bibles or other religious materials to visit their wounded sons or daughters or husbands and wives. My colleague Rep. Steve King pointed out that “It means a priest that might be coming in to visit someone on their death bed couldn’t bring in the Eucharist, couldn’t offer Last Rites. This is the most outrageous affront.”
Our troops have risked their lives for our freedoms and liberties - including our religious liberties. To deny them this freedom when they return home is deplorable.
This week, I hosted a meeting with officials from Walter Reed regarding the policy. The officials said that the policy was not properly vetted and has been rescinded. The following apology has been posted on their website:
We are in the process of rewriting our policy and would like to offer the following statement:
Bibles and other religious materials have always been and will remain available for patient use at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. The visitation policy as written was incorrect and should have been more thoroughly reviewed before its release. It has been rescinded. We apologize for any confusion the policy may have caused.
Please know that at admission, all patients are asked for their religious preference and a chaplain associated with their preference visits them regularly to provide spiritual services. In addition, their families may also bring religious material and we will not refuse any religious group entrance.
WRNMMC provides multiple venues at WRMNMC for religious expression and worship. There is daily Catholic Mass as well as Protestant, Hindu, and Muslim services. Eucharist is also available at the bedside. There are weekly Torah studies, multiple weekly Christian bible studies, as well as weekly Qur'an study. Furthermore, chaplains coordinate spiritual needs for those whose faith groups are not represented by staff chaplains (such as Latter-Day Saints, Buddhist, and Christian Scientist).
Walter Reed National Military Medical Center remains committed to supporting the religious preferences of all our patients and we will continue to ensure their spiritual needs are met.
I have requested background information about the policy, how it was implemented without proper vetting, and what forces were behind its implementation. Additionally, Rep. Steve King was featured on Fox and Friends this week to discuss the situation. You can view his comments here.
Posted by Randy | December 07, 2011
It is a marker that defines the Greatest Generation. It is one of the darkest days in the pages of our nation’s history book. It has indeed become a day that “live[s] in infamy.”
70 years have passed since the message rang across the Oahu naval base: “AIR RAID ON PEARL HARBOR. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.” Today, the first-hand experiences from the day are becoming increasingly rare (the youngest survivors are in their late 80s). But as our immediate connection to the day flickers, we are resolved to remember. We are resolved to pay tribute to the members of the Armed Forces and those civilians who died in the attacks, and the subsequent 320,000 Americans who sacrificed their lives in World War II for freedom across the globe.
As we remember the attacks on Pearl Harbor, I want to share with you some online resources that help tell the story of the day:
Timeline, Videos, Interactive Maps, and Photos
The USS Arizona Memorial
National Park Service
United States Naval Base, Pearl Harbor
National Park Service
After the Day of Infamy - "Man on the Street" Interviews Following the Attack on Pearl Harbor
Library of Congress
The Pearl Harbor Radiogram
“Day of Infamy” Speech
Stories from the Veterans History Project
Library of Congress
Posted by Randy | November 23, 2011
Last week, I had the opportunity to celebrate America's heroic lineage of veterans and Armed Forces members at a DAR luncheon in Chesapeake. We are grateful for the many years of service represented at that luncheon and throughout Virginia’s Fourth Congressional District.
Here’s a look at the luncheon.
Tell us in the comments section -- who in your lineage has served our nation as a member of the Armed Forces?
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