Our veterans deserve the best. When servicemembers return home, we owe them a deep debt of gratitude and so much more. In Congress, I’m working to make sure we are paying back that debt whenever possible.
I hear from many veterans who have been exposed to toxic burn pits. Many servicemembers who were part of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom were exposed to burn pits during their time in service to our nation. When they returned home, they were left to battle a wide range of negative conditions, some of those have been fatal.
Today, the Veterans Administration (VA) does not acknowledge toxic burn pit exposure as a factor in the development of the diseases our veterans are facing. To get veterans the care they have earned, I joined my colleagues to introduce the Protection for Veterans Burn Pit Exposure Act of 2018.
This legislation will enable veterans exposed to toxic burn pits to immediately access VA medical care and disability benefits. It’s because of their stories that I am proud to fight for them on this important issue.
As Iowa’s only member on the House or Senate Appropriations Committee, I have fought for increased funding for the VA to address long wait times and make sure veterans get the care they need. And, during this Congress, I voted to give the VA leadership more authority to terminate employees who aren’t giving our veterans the care they have earned and deserve.
I continue to conduct oversight to make sure the implementation of my bipartisan bill, the No Veterans Crisis Line Call Should Go Unanswered Act, which was signed into law in November of 2016, is being properly implemented across the United States. I have visited the call center in Atlanta where veterans calls are received. While there, I met with leadership and staff to partner with them and help provide the resources they need so they are better able to perform their job and serve veterans.
Every year, I hold two Veterans Care Fairs to ensure veterans are aware of the government and non-profit services available to them. The Care Fairs serve as a one-stop-shop of crucial services, programs, and resources available to Iowa veterans, their families, and caregivers from all levels of government and various service organizations.
We all should work to pay back the debt we owe our veterans and I am doing my best in Congress to make sure they have the resources they need. That’s why I introduced the Protection for Veterans Burn Pit Exposure Act and continue to hold Veterans Care Fairs. I encourage you to find a way to serve our veterans, no matter how small you may think it is, do it. You never know how much of a difference it could make.