Sep 12 2019
Office Has Met With More Than 500 Veterans At The West Palm Beach VA | Mast Opened First-Ever Congressional Office Inside VA Facility
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Congressman Brian Mast (FL-18) today slammed the Department of Veterans Affairs for evicting him and five other Members of Congress from offices they opened inside Department of Veterans Affairs facilities. Rep. Mast opened the first-ever Congressional office inside a VA facility in 2017, and the office has met with more than 500 veterans at the West Palm Beach VA since then. The office provides services to veterans, such as helping them with disability claims and benefits appeals. Unless the Department of Veterans Affairs reverses their decision, the office will be forced to close by the end of the year.
“No other federal agency has been so plagued by crisis after crisis as the VA has, and apparently they will go to no end to avoid accountability,” Rep. Mast said. “Our space in the West Palm Beach VA is the size of a storage closet, but that hasn’t stopped us from meeting with and helping hundreds of veterans. The bottom line is that shutting down this office hurts veterans, who often don’t have the mobility to get to another Congressional office. Today the Department of Veterans Affairs chose to prioritize avoiding transparency and accountability over the veterans they are tasked with caring for.”
Rep. Mast is urging the Department of Veterans Affairs to reverse their decision, which will impact the Congressional office at the West Palm Beach VA (staffed by Rep. Mast, along with Representatives Hastings [FL-20], Deutch [FL-22] and Frankel [FL-21]) and the Congressional office at the Orlando VA Medical Center (staffed by Representatives Soto [FL-9] and Murphy [FL-7]).
Rep. Mast has also authored a bill, called the Improving Veterans Access To Congressional Services Act, to mandate the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide this space to Members of Congress so that they can assist veterans when and where they need the help. Rep. Mast testified about his bill earlier this week before the Veterans Affairs Committee, and he has also been a fierce advocate for greater accountability following several avoidable tragedies this year at the West Palm Beach VA.
ABOUT BRIAN MAST
Congressman Brian Mast is in his second term representing the 18th Congressional District of Florida. Prior to his election to Congress, Brian followed in his father’s footsteps by serving in the U.S. Army for more than 12 years, earning medals including The Bronze Star Medal, The Army Commendation Medal for Valor, The Purple Heart Medal, and The Defense Meritorious Service Medal. While deployed in Afghanistan, he worked as a bomb disposal expert under the elite Joint Special Operations Command. The last improvised explosive device that he found resulted in catastrophic injuries, which included the loss of both of his legs.
While lying in bed recovering at Walter Reed Medical Center, Brian’s father gave him advice that has stuck with him to this day—to ensure the greatest service he gave to our country and the best example he set for his children was still ahead of him. Brian took this advice to heart and dedicated himself to finding new ways to serve our country and his community. As a Member of Congress, he opened the first-ever Congressional office inside a VA facility at the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center so that he could help serve his fellow veterans when and where they need help.