Today, George Allen held a forum in Virginia Beach where he listened to Veterans' about their benefits and discussed the future of our national defense in the face of devastating sequestration defense cuts. George Allen spoke about his strong commitment to ensuring that veterans, those serving in our Armed Forces and their families receive the benefits and support they need from a grateful nation.
"The paramount responsibility of the federal government is national defense and that includes keeping our promises to our veterans and their families for the benefits they have earned," said George Allen. "Families serve, too, and I will work with anyone, regardless of their political party, to ensure that veterans and their families receive what they earned from a more efficient, effective, and accountable government. Steep increases in TRICARE premiums and fees would have a harmful effect on our Veterans and their families, as well as a negative impact on military recruitment and retention. I am committed to preventing these additional costs to our veterans."
Allen continued, "Veterans are also seeing our military face devastating defense cuts under a failed Washington deal that could cost over 200,000 jobs lost in Virginia. Unfortunately, there are some in Washington who want to use this as an opportunity to raise taxes. I will make sure that the men and women serving in our Armed Forces are never used as a political bargaining tool to raise taxes on job-creating small business owners. It's time for leadership in Washington that sets priorities and fulfills our constitutional responsibilities."
Issues raised at the veterans forum included TRICARE costs, finding doctors who accept TRICARE, and a lack of coordination of health information and benefits transitioning from active military service to veteran status. Additionally, TRICARE payments are tied to Medicare payments, which are being cut under the health care tax law and resulting in fewer doctors seeing our veterans. Veterans also discussed the discouraging bureaucracy and red tape they face in accessing health benefits as well as ideas for identifying best practices and greater efficiency.
"George Allen has always been a strong advocate for veterans, and I'm thankful for his commitment," said C. Norman Wood, Lt. General, USAF (Ret.), who attended today's forum. "We need more courageous leaders in Washington who are willing to stand up to those who want to pay for budgetary failures on the backs of veterans. This Administration's threats to veterans benefits are disheartening to our community. National defense is the highest responsibility of the federal government and I am confident that George Allen will stand strong in the U.S. Senate for our Armed Services and veterans."
Delegate Chris Stolle and Senator Frank Wagner also joined George Allen for the forum. Virginia is home to over 340,000 Active duty, Guard, and Reserve military and their families. Additionally, over 823,000 Veterans and military retirees reside in the Commonwealth.