Putting Veterans First

Last week, KRIS-TV ran a story about a Portland veteran who, despite decorated service in Vietnam, was being mistreated by the Department of Veterans Affairs when it came to the payment of his medical bills. After learning about the situation, my office contacted the VA and within a week had almost all of his bills paid. My office is continuing to consider this problem a top priority until the VA makes good on its promise to pay all the bills.

Ultimately, it's about customer service. The VA exists to serve veterans and far too frequently VA employees seem to forget that. Think unpaid bills, long wait times to receive care, and a complicated disability claims process. This is why I have a team of Red Tape Cutters in my district offices who help veterans, and others, navigate the complicated federal bureaucracy to solve their problems. Getting answers or service from the federal government can be hard, and my Red Tape Cutters exist to make things a little easier. Sometimes a call from a Congressman can help speed things along.

But ideally it shouldn’t have to be that way. That’s why I’ve supported legislation to make things easier for our veterans. I cosponsored H.R. 1994, the VA Accountability Act of 2015 which empowers the VA to fire or demote employees with poor performance records. And last week I voted for several veterans bills, including H.R. 1694, the Fairness to Veterans for Infrastructure Investment Act of 2015. This bill would improve contracting opportunities for veteran-owned small businesses. There’s a lot to improve when it comes to how our country treats our veterans, but with the one-two punch of savvy Red Tape Cutters and thoughtful legislation, I’m happy to be part of the fight to put veterans first.


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