Congressman Griffith E-Newsletter 8-6-18
Help for Veterans
Although the Veterans Administration was formally organized during the Herbert Hoover presidency, benefits for veterans can trace their roots to near the nation’s birth. Veterans deserve the thanks and support of all Americans for the sacrifices they made on our behalf. Thus, veterans are promised benefits in recognition of their service.
For too many veterans, these promises were hollow. Scandals involving unacceptable wait times for medical appointments revealed in recent years at the Department of Veterans Affairs shocked the country.
Correcting these problems and improving veterans’ care is a priority of the House, and we have made progress. Important reforms to enhance the quality and availability of care have been signed into law.
Earlier this year, I wrote about House passage of the VA Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks (MISSION) Act, a major step forward. It consolidates several VA programs into a community care program while continuing the VA Choice Program until the consolidation is complete. The Choice Program is a great concept, but the execution has proved difficult in some instances. Medical providers participating in the program have informed me that they face trouble getting payment. In some cases, this may be resistance from parts of the VA, so they opt out altogether. Hopefully, when consolidated, these problems will lessen.
The VA Mission Act also establishes a review process to modernize and realign the VA’s medical infrastructure and improves the VA’s ability to recruit and retain health care professionals.
Since I wrote about it, the Senate passed the VA MISSION Act and President Trump signed it.
The VA MISSION Act is a notable reform, but others have been approved by the House as well. In June, we passed a bill extending benefits to sailors and airmen who served during the Vietnam War era and were exposed to Agent Orange; current law only provides these benefits to those who served on land. I am a cosponsor of this bill, as well as a similar one ensuring benefits for veterans who served at military bases in Thailand during the same period.
During the last week of July, the House passed nine veterans bills. They included reforms to make sure that the VA is hiring highly-qualified personnel, smooth the transition for veterans headed back into civilian life, and assist with education.
A bill that advanced through the Energy and Commerce Committee to improve the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline also included a provision to study its effectiveness for veterans. I cosponsored this legislation and am glad that the House passed it in July, too.
All told, the House has passed over 80 veterans bills during this Congress, and President Trump has signed more than two dozen into law.
We owe our veterans a tremendous debt for their sacrifices. Looking after their well-being, whether helping care for the wounded or promoting education and job opportunities for those returning to civilian life, is the best way to express our gratitude.
If you are a veteran in the Ninth District in need of assistance with the VA, I encourage you to contact my office online at morgangriffith.house.gov, by calling my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405, or by calling my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671.
The desire to serve something greater than oneself motivates men and women to join the Armed Forces. That desire can also be put to good use in our communities. Volunteering helps improve the places we call home. It is an act of good citizenship, but also a way to strengthen the bonds between neighbors and friends, and a good deed that leaves us feeling better about ourselves.
Unfortunately, interest in volunteering has declined in recent years. When I was in Glade Spring earlier this summer, a first responder asked if I could raise awareness of this issue. The decline is reflected in national studies as well as the comments I hear as I travel the Ninth District. Such a trend deprives a community of the best from its citizens. So, if you are not currently volunteering, consider giving a few hours each month to a worthwhile community organization.
There are many avenues one can choose to get involved, from public functions such as fire departments to educational endeavors such as parent-teacher associations to civic organizations such as Rotary Clubs. If you are not involved, I encourage you to find a volunteer opportunity that matches your talents and the community’s needs.
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 www.morgangriffith.house.gov.