As a veteran, I continued to support measures that take care of our military and their families. Many Inland Empire residents have and will continue to bravely serve and courageously defend America. California is home to over 2.3 million veterans. Therefore, our nation must return the service and serve these current and former service members and their families.
Veterans' Health Care:
* Veterans Health Care Budget - Veteran service organizations have long advocated funding veteran's health one year in advance. The Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act of 2009 will provide advance appropriations for certain medical care for the next fiscal year one year in advance, in order to provide the VA with sufficient time to plan how to deliver the most efficient and effective care to an increasing number of veterans with increasingly complex medical conditions. (H.R.1016, signed into Law).
* Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Care - I co-sponsored the COMBAT PTSD Act to clarify the term "combat with an enemy" from title 38 of the United States code to ensure that all veterans who suffer from PTSD are properly treated and given adequate medical care. (H.R. 952)
* Women Veterans - Woman veterans have different needs than men. I supported the Women Veterans Health Care Improvement Act requires the Secretary of Veteran Affairs, to provide and expand VA services to the distinct needs of the 1.8 million women who bravely serve their country. The legislation also calls for a study of the barriers to women veterans seeking health care, an assessment of women's health care programs, medical care for newborn children of women veterans, enhancement of VA sexual trauma programs, enhancement of PTSD treatment for women and the establishment of a pilot program for child care services. (H.R. 1211 passed the House).
* Veterans' Insurance -- I supported the Veterans' Insurance and Health Care Improvements Act of 2009 expands options for veterans and service members to best fit their needs and the needs of their families. The act also establishes a Committee on Care of Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury to tend to the needs of veterans with brain trauma. (H.R. 3219 passed the House).
* Military Retiree Health -- I co-sponsored the Federal and Military Retiree Health Care Equity Act to allow military retirees to pay for Federal Employees Health Benefits Programs and TRICARE programs on a pretax basis and to receive a tax deduction for TRICARE. (H.R. 1203)
* Veterans Severance Pay -- I co-sponsored a bill amending title 10 of the United States Code to expand authorized disability severance pay to cover all veterans who have a combat-related injuries and disabilities. (H.R. 593)
Veteran and Military Families:
* Support for Veteran Caregivers - I co-sponsored the Caregiver Assistance and Resource Enhancement Act, to provide certain caregivers of veterans with training, support, medical care, and educational services. (H.R. 3155 passed the House)
* Care for Military Spouses - I co-sponsored the Military Surviving Spouses Equity Act, to repeal provisions requiring the offset of amounts paid in dependency and indemnity compensation from the Survivor Benefit Plan - granting surviving military spouses the same benefits they would have otherwise received. (H.R. 775)
* Protecting Nutrition Programs for Military Families - Successfully worked to halt the proposed closure of the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program satellite facility at Fort Irwin in San Bernardino County. Worked with the County Board of Supervisors and authorities at Ft. Irwin to protect the WIC program on base during these difficult economic times. If this satellite facility was closed, military families receiving WIC benefits would be forced to travel over 60 miles roundtrip to receive necessary services.
Education and Other Support:
* New 4-Year GI Bill -- I proudly supported the new GI bill for the 21st Century promises a full four-year college education and stipends for housing and books to veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. This Congress, this benefit was also extended to the children of members of the armed forces who die while on active duty. (signed into Law)
* College for Surviving Military Children -- I supported the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2009, which expands the GI bill of the 21st Century by covering the full cost of college tuition for surviving military children by creating the "Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry" scholarship. (Act was signed into public law)
* Veteran's Education Equity - I co-sponsored the Veterans Educational Equity Act, allowing veterans entitled to the GI educational assistance program to use all or a portion of the amount of assistance for any institution of higher education charging fees in lieu of tuition. (H.R. 2474)
* Test Prep Assistance for Service Members -- I supported legislation to paying for advance degree test preparation courses and materials for service members who wish to advance their education. (H.R.3948)
* Fair Benefits for Disabled Military Retirees - I supported the Disabled Military Retiree Relief Act of 2009, which allows veterans medically retired from active duty to receive both military retirements and Veterans Disability Compensation. (H.R. 2990 passed the House)
* Veteran Support -- The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provided a $1.4 billion increase to the Department of Veterans Affairs for operation and maintenance of veteran medical facilities, cemetery repairs, research and development of defense, and family housing. (Act was signed into public law)
* Veteran-Owned Small Business and Service Member Protections -- Supported legislation to require the VA to verify that firms are veteran-owned small business or service disabled veteran-owned small businesses to ensure the accuracy of VA databases. I also supported to provide military families station transfer assistance with contracts, cell phone plans, and rental and motor vehicle leases. (H.R.3949, passed the House)
* Housing Assistance for Homeless Veterans - I co-sponsored the Homes for Heroes Act of 2009 (H.R.403), to amend the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to establish a Special Assistance for Veteran's Affairs department within HUD. The act also amends the United States Housing Act of 1937 to provide housing vouchers to all homeless veterans despite medical conditions. (Passed the House)
* Preventing and Ending Veteran Homelessness - I supported the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program Reauthorization Act of 2009, which provides job training, placement services, and grants to end veteran homelessness. The act requires the Secretary of Labor to make grants to programs and facilities that provide necessary services to homeless women veterans and homeless veterans with children. (H.R. 1171 passed the House)
* Assistive Housing for Veterans -- I supported legislation to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to make grants to encourage the development of new assistive technologies for specially adapted housing for disabled veterans (H.R. 1170 passed the House); and to increase the amount paid by the VA for structural alterations for homes of veterans. (H.R. 1293 passed the House)
* National Defense Authorization Act -- I supported legislation that authorizes a 3.4% pay raise for our troops, strengthens military readiness, expands support for military families' health care and housing, and focuses on a new strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan and redeployment from Iraq. The bill requires a report of current research and treatment efforts of PTSD to reduce duplicative efforts. (H.R. 2647, signed into Law)
* FY 2010 Military Construction and Veteran Affairs Appropriations Act -- I supported legislation to provide a $14.5 billion increase above fiscal year 2009 for veteran services and programs; including for medical care, mental health, assistance to homeless veterans, medical and prosthetic research, and military construction and family housing. Passage of this bill will increase funding for veterans by 60% since January 2007. For the first time, the bill also included advance funding for fiscal year 2011 to provide reliable and timely funding for veterans medical care. (H.R. 3082 passed the House)
* FY 2010 Defense Appropriations - Voted to provide our troops with first class weapons and equipment, and invest in the health, well-being and readiness of our service members and their families. The legislation included funding to pay for a 3.4% pay raise for our troops. (H.R.3326, passed House and Senate)
* Military Equality and Nondiscrimination - I co-sponsored a bill to repeal the 16-year policy of "don't ask, don't tell" to end discrimination based on sexual orientation. The bill would also reappoint individuals that were previously discharged. (H.R. 1283)
Honoring Our Armed Service Men and Women and Veterans:
* Recognizing Veteran's Day - I introduced a resolution that calls to encourage all Americans to demonstrate their support for veterans on the yearly Veteran's Day and encourages schools and teachers to educated students on the great contributions veterans have made to our nation. (Passed the House - H.Res. 89)
* Honoring Members from the Inland Empire - I introduced legislation to honor the Armed Forces and congratulate all military families and service organizations who assisted the soldiers from the Inland Empire for their enormous sacrifices in Iraq and Afghanistan. (H.Res. 93)
* Fighting for appropriate recognition for War Heroes - I led efforts have the President order a review of two cases for the elevation to receive the Medal of Honor. I advocated for a Medal of Honor to be awarded to Marine Sergeant Rafael Peralta, who died courageously using his body as a human shield to save his comrades from a grenade blast in Iraq; and also advocated for a Medal of Honor to be awarded to Army Private First Class Manuel F. Martinez, who bravely and intentionally drew enemy fire to save his comrades in Vietnam.
* WWII Soldiers at Berga, Germany - Led efforts to request Army officials recognize the more than 350 U.S. soldiers that were captured during WWII at the Battle of the Bulge and sent to a Nazi prison labor camp at Berga, Germany. The U.S. Army recently recognized these soldiers for their courage and heroic service to the United States.
* Recognizing the Forgotten Heroes of WWII -- I co-sponsored legislation to establish that the "Jesus Salgado Medal" be awarded to veterans who died after serving in the Vietnam War but were not eligible for placement on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. (H.R. 671)
* Recognizing the Mothers of the Armed Forces - I co-sponsored legislation to commend the service and honor the sacrifice of members of the Armed Forces who are also mothers. (H.Res. 399)
* Honoring Purple Heart Awardees - I co-sponsored the Perpetual Purple Heart Stamp Act, which will issue a forever stamp to honor the Purple Heart recipients. (H.R. 1305)
* Recognizing Women Pilots -- I co-sponsored legislation to award a single congressional gold medal in honor of the Women Airforce Service Pilots for their pioneering military service in the U.S. Armed Forces (H.R. 2014)