As we honor our fallen heroes this Memorial Day, we are reminded of the selfless sacrifice that generations of brave men and women in uniform have made on behalf of a grateful nation. While we may never be able to repay that debt, I'd like to take this opportunity to share some developments about the work we are doing on behalf of our surviving veterans.
As your representative, I take seriously my responsibility to support those who have fought to protect our freedoms. For this reason, I sent a letter to President Obama requesting that he become directly involved in ending the VA disability claims backlog. As too many veterans are well aware, the current wait time for disability claims is unacceptable, and it is time the Administration and both parties in Congress make solving this crisis one a top priority.
In addition, I am proud to have helped advance pieces of legislation this past week that will honor and empower those who have selflessly served. The Improving Job Opportunities for Veterans Act of 2013, for example, expands on-the-job training and apprenticeships for veterans. By providing new job opportunities to returning and unemployed veterans, we can strive to ensure that no one who fought for our country will have to fight even harder to provide for their family once they return home.
I am pleased to have voted in favor of H.R. 570, the American Heroes COLA Act, which provides automatic annual cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) for disabled veterans and survivor payments to spouses and children. The American Heroes COLA Act ensures that our veterans receive a COLA each year without subjecting their earned benefits to yearly Congressional approval.
I also supported H.R. 1344, the Helping Heroes Fly Act, which directs the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to make travel easier for severely injured or disabled service members, as well as H.R. 258, the Stolen Valor Act of 2013, which will makes it a criminal offense to financially benefit from making fraudulent claims about military service.
I remain committed to fighting for our brave veterans who have sacrificed so much to advance freedom. At this time of solemn remembrance, I hope you will join me in saying a prayer for our service members currently in harm's way, while also extending a hand of gratitude to a veteran in our North and Northwest Florida community.
Steve Southerland, II
United States Representative