"As we observe Memorial Day, we remember with gratitude all of those brave men and women who have defended our great nation, and we pay tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. To all of those who are and have been members of our armed forces – thank you for all that you do in the name of American liberty.
As Americans, we must continue to support our troops who bravely defend our interests both at home and abroad. We must always remember that it is because of their service and sacrifice that we live in the most free and prosperous nation on earth.
With this at the forefront of our minds, last week, the House of Representatives passed six bills to work towards ensuring our veterans receive the care they have earned. These bills include efforts to reduce veteran homelessness, encourage the creation of more job opportunities for veterans, and improve accountability of Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) employees. We are taking significant legislative steps and conducting rigorous oversight to improve the care our veterans receive, but we cannot change the culture of the VA alone. The Administration must do more to meet the benchmarks set by Congress.
This week marks one year since General Eric Shinseki resigned as the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. While his resignation seemed like the first step toward turning the VA around, the agency has not yet met the American people’s expectations for quality service for our veterans. Congress gave the Secretary of the VA greater authority to fire the employees responsible for the agency’s mismanagement, but in the past year, few VA employees have been fired. Congress authorized $16 billion in additional spending at the VA over three years to address backlogs, yet far too many veterans continue to face excessively long wait times to get appointments and receive care. And we recently learned that the VA may have illegally spent as much as $6 billion on improper acquisitions. It is clear that the culture of the VA remains one of bureaucracy and paper-pushing, not one of duty and service that our veterans deserve.
We in the House remain committed to holding the VA accountable and ensuring our veterans receive the level of care and service worthy of their tremendous sacrifice. We will continue to conduct oversight to push the VA to raise their standards and will pursue additional legislative reforms as needed. This week, I will be traveling Virginia’s Fifth District to meet with veterans from South Hill to Warrenton. I am looking forward to thanking these great Americans, and I hope to gain their insights into how Congress can best help those who stood ready to lay down their lives for our country.
I am honored to represent so many veterans and active duty soldiers in Virginia’s Fifth District. I recorded a video message to commemorate Memorial Day, which you can view on my website – hurt.house.gov. I join the people of the Fifth District in honoring those who have fallen and in offering our thanks to those service members who have served and continue to serve this great nation so that we may continue to preserve our American way of life for future generations.
If you need any additional information or if we may be of assistance to you, please visit my website at hurt.house.gov or call my Washington office: (202) 225-4711, Charlottesville office: (434) 973-9631, Danville office: (434) 791-2596, or Farmville office: (434) 395-0120.
I attended the Virginia Council of Chapters Military Officers’ Association of America Luncheon, where I visited with Retired Air Force Officers Ed Fording of Keswick, John Swartzwelder of Charlottesville, and Bill Adams of Keswick (pictured left to right).