Concerning Veteran Care and Immigration

Improving Care for Veterans

Rep. Morgan GriffithOne of our highest obligations as a nation is “to care for him who shall have borne the battle,” as Abraham Lincoln eloquently stated in his Second Inaugural Address. The men and women who wear the uniform of the United States military put their lives on the line for our freedoms, and many come home with wounds both seen and unseen.
Over the past few years, too many stories have emerged of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) failing the brave people it is meant to serve. Reforming the VA became an urgent priority.

Under the leadership of Chairman Phil Roe, who represents our neighbors in Tennessee’s First District, the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs has been hard at work crafting legislation to improve care for veterans. They have been moving to the House floor bills that bring to the VA better care, more options, and greater accountability.

Many of these bills garner wide support from both parties as well as veterans’ groups. Take a recent major bill that passed the House by a vote of 347-70, the VA Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks (MISSION) Act.
This legislation consolidates several VA programs into one community care program and continues the VA Choice Program until the consolidation is complete. It also establishes a review process to modernize and realign the VA’s medical infrastructure, and it improves the VA’s ability to recruit and retain health care professionals.

I supported the VA MISSION Act and look forward to the Senate sending it to President Trump, who has said he will sign it.

The debt we owe to veterans is incalculable. It is our duty to provide for their care as best we can. Chairman Roe and the Veterans’ Affairs committee are advancing legislation to do just that, and I am happy to support their efforts.

Fixing America’s Immigration System

It seems likely that legislation regarding immigration and the southern border will move in the House soon.

Like many of you, I want to secure our borders AND am sympathetic to the plight of the so-called DACA children. These are children of illegal immigrants whose parents brought them here at a tender age and, as a result, have little or no knowledge of their home countries. We must find a way to treat these children fairly, but any effort that fixes the DACA situation must also include significant and substantial upgrades in border security, particularly along the southern border where we have so many problems. When people and goods can cross the border with impunity, national security is threatened and the rule of law is undermined.

DACA and border security are priorities for fixing in any immigration legislation that may soon move, but the broader immigration system also needs significant and substantial reform.

Immigrants have often strengthened our country, whether they come from Asia, Africa, Europe, South America, or Central America. But the present system doesn’t serve our national interest. Parts of it, such as the visa lottery that strews visas among countries underrepresented in other avenues of legal immigration, seem downright absurd.
The whole immigration system needs a reorientation toward bringing in the skills that will create jobs, power the economy, and improve life for all, whether other immigrants or the native-born.

The recent British royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle reminded me of how immigration can have a positive impact on a country. Of course, Meghan Markle is an American now married into the British royal family. Before the night of her wedding, she stayed at Cliveden House, once the residence of Nancy Astor, who was born in Danville, Virginia, but went down in history as the first female Member of Parliament in the United Kingdom.*

It’s not news that someone can be born in one country and thrive in another. It’s the task of an immigration system to bring in those who are most likely to thrive.

Coming legislation on immigration should look after DACA beneficiaries, but it should also look after our national needs. This opportunity is too critical to our future to get wrong.

If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at Also on my website is the latest material from my office, including information on votes recently taken on the floor of the House of Representatives.

*By the way, Lady Astor was also a famous sparring partner of Winston Churchill. A story goes that she once told him, “Winston, if I was married to you, I’d put poison in your coffee.” To which he replied, “Nancy, if I was married to you, I’d drink it.”