The comradery of shared service unites veterans in a special way. We have a common experience and common healthcare challenges as a result.
It's important for veterans to come together and for the VA to establish and maintain expertise in providing our unique healthcare needs. Unfortunately, too many VA facilities have lost their hunger to provide our care. A passion to meet the individual needs of veterans has become too much of a rarity.
This week, veterans came together in West Palm Beach and the result was a change in policy at the national level. When I started receiving calls from local veterans that our VA didn't have portraits of the Commander in Chief and Secretary of Veterans Affairs hanging where they should have been, I went to the VA to hang them myself.
First, they were happy to hang them. But then, after we left, they took them back down. That's when we took our case to Washington and secured a directive from the VA.
This just goes to show: when veterans see a problem, they take action to fix it and they get the job done. That's just how we were trained and how we live our lives.
But this isn't a one-off problem. This exemplifies problems at the VA across the country. That's why I also helped pass three bills this week to help our veterans:
- We passed the VA Accountability First Act on Thursday to allow the Secretary of the VA to remove, demote or suspend VA employees who aren’t doing their job. The bill also provides improved protections for whistleblowers at the VA and takes other steps to improve accountability at the VA.
- We also passed the Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act to prevent veterans 2nd amendment rights from being taken away without due process. If you’ve fought for our country – used a firearm to protect the United States – it is not justified to take away your right to bear arms unless there has been due process and a specific determination by a judge. Veterans who served this country so honorably should never be arbitrarily placed on a roll with criminals; it is insulting and unconstitutional.
- Finally, we passed H.R. 1367 to provide the VA with the tools they need to hire and retain a top notch work force. This is just common sense - if we’re going to give the VA the authority to fire employees who are not doing their job, we should also make sure they have everything they need to get the best, most highly-motivated employees who go to work every day with the goal of serving veterans to the best of their ability.