Friday, September 16, 2016

The Missing Man and the Military Veteran

Click here to                      visit my website

What does it mean for a civilization to contend with the true costs of war? Here in the United States, most of us remain significantly untouched by war. Our conflicts are confined to remote places and our battles are fought by other people's sons and daughters. Most of us are living the same lives we lived before Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria. We go to the same stores, we wear the same clothes, and we love the same people.

But I think that if you look hard enough, you will find that there is something missing. There are certain gaps—certain silences—left by the men and women who never came home from wars like those in Vietnam and Korea (and there are 73,000 U.S. personnel unaccounted for from World War II). On a shelf somewhere, there is a baseball glove covered in dust that has missed the touch of a boy's hand for years. There are places set at dinner for nineteen-year-old men who will never grow old. There are moms and dads, sisters and brothers, daughters and sons, husbands and wives who have dreamed about one final embrace—just one more chance at a long goodbye.

Today is designated as a day for remembering our Prisoners of War and Missing in Action, whose whereabouts may be uncertain. We're working still to bring every military man and woman home. That's a priority for me, because the people who have sacrificed to defend this country deserve to be brought back to it.

I believe that every military man and woman deserves to be treated with dignity and honor, and I think our Veterans deserve that same level of respect. It's disappointing that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has fallen so short of that mark. VA employees guilty of misconduct enjoy a certain level of impunity; they continue to reap benefits and bonuses even if they are placed on administrative leave. All this occurs as significant backlogs in the disability benefits appeals process and wait times at medical facilities make it nearly impossible for Veterans to get the care they need.

We have to do better for our Veterans. That's why I supported H.R. 5620, the VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act of 2016. This legislation would target misconduct and bolster accountability at all levels by expanding authorities granted to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. The Secretary would be authorized to reduce the pension of any Senior Executive Service employee who commits wrong-doing within the scope of his or her employment. Additionally, this legislation would offer the Secretary discretion to recoup bonuses and awards (to include all or a portion of relocation expenses) paid to any VA employee who has committed an act of fraud, waste, or malfeasance. Most importantly, this bill would create efficiencies to help Veterans overcome the significant obstacles they face as they navigate the disability benefits appeals process. 

The problems at the VA are persistent and widespread, and that's because there is a culture of complacency and a lack of accountability when it comes to addressing them. Our Veterans deserve more than the inefficiency, misconduct, and intentional wrongdoing that is rampant at the VA. Every day, I hear from men and women in the First District who have served honorably and yet are blocked from receiving the benefits they have earned because of the significant claims backlog. And more alarming still are reports of extreme misconduct—deception about wait times, armed robbery, intoxication and drug abuse on the job—by VA employees. We can do better, and this bill takes meaningful steps toward restoring accountability at the VA.

The true cost of war is what our warriors leave behind them on the battlefield and what military families miss when those young men and women don't come home. It's up to us to help carry those burdens. 


Yorktown Office
401 Main Street
Yorktown, VA 23690
Phone: (757) 874-6687
Fax: (757) 874-7164

Stafford Office
95 Dunn Drive
Ste. 201
Stafford, Virginia 22556
Phone: (540) 659-2734
Fax: (540) 659-2737

Tappahannock Office
508 Church Lane
Tappahannock, VA 22560
Phone: (804) 443-0668
Fax: (804) 443-0671

Washington D.C. Office
2454 Rayburn H.O.B.
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-4261
Fax: (202) 225-4382



Click Here to view this email in your browser
Click Here to be removed from this list

No comments:

Post a Comment