Ensuring Our Veterans Receive What They Are Owed
This Veterans Day, while we remember those who have fallen while protecting our nation, we must also keep in mind those troops who are participating in the ongoing conflicts around the globe and the families they have left behind. Day in and day out, they demonstrate unwavering bravery to protect those who cannot defend themselves and an unparalleled commitment to promote democracy in regions where tyranny and oppression have long ruled. Upon their return, it is our nation's duty to ensure they have what they are undeniably owed.
The highest priority for many veterans is funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), particularly the health care system. I have long believed the health care services earned by veterans with their service to this great country should not be subject to the annual appropriations process, which is often delayed by political posturing and unrelated agendas. In fact the current appropriations for the VA, which could include the 11.7 percent increase over last year's VA budget as overwhelmingly approved by the House, is being inexplicably delayed by politics.
To ensure funding for veterans' services are not needlessly delayed, I am an original cosponsor and strong supporter of H.R. 1041, the "Veterans Health Care Full Funding Act," introduced by fellow New Jersey Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04). This legislation would create the Veterans Health Care Funding Review Board to determine the level of funding for veterans health care programs in two year increments and require the President to request funding for the two years, which would provide more stability in veterans' health care services. Furthermore, I support legislation which would extend the eligibility of hospital care, medical services or nursing home care provided by the VA to veterans returning from combat operations.
Additionally, I have worked closely with the VA Medical Center in Wilmington to expand health services to South Jersey veterans. Beyond allowing local veterans to see their own local doctors for certain routine, high-demand services and procedures such as physical therapy and dermatology, the Wilmington VA has increased services provided at the outpatient clinics in Vineland, Ventnor and Cape May. I am particularly proud of the eye and ear services being offered at Vineland in conjunction with Vineland Veterans Home.
At every possible opportunity, I meet with our veterans here in South Jersey. I have also been fortunate enough to travel to Iraq and Afghanistan on numerous occasions to meet with servicemen and women from the 2nd District. With each meeting, I am more inspired by their selflessness and overwhelming sense of duty. It is for this reason I will always vote to support our brave servicemen and women, and will work to ensure the funding for our nation's veterans is not shortchanged or held up by political bickering.
President Reagan said it best on the beaches of Normandy: We will always remember. We will always be proud. We will always be prepared, so we may always be free. This Veterans' Day, we remember all the men and women who answered the call to serve and made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. We should work every day to ensure they receive what they have rightly earned.