Central Washington is lucky to be home to over 33,000 veterans. As our nation observes this upcoming Veterans Day, we reaffirm a solemn promise to remember and honor the men and women of the United States Armed Forces—past and present. Although Veterans Day was established to remember and revere the sacrifices of so many, our veterans deserve to know their country is looking after them and their families each and every day.
I have spent much of my time in Congress meeting with veterans across Central Washington and learning about the issues they are facing. At my Veterans Roundtable in Richland this summer, I heard from many who expressed frustration with the Department of Veterans Affairs and the inadequate care they were receiving as a result of the Cerner Electronic Health Records system rollout. These stories were tragic and echoed those of veterans throughout Washington State.
There is no other group of Americans our society is more indebted to than our veterans. I have always supported veterans’ benefits that assist former service members and their families—just this year, my office has helped more than 100 veterans in Central Washington receive the benefits they have earned. I firmly believe the care we provide to our veterans reflects our gratitude to the courageous servicemen and women who selflessly risked their lives in the protection of others. It is my responsibility to ensure the federal government keeps its commitment to provide our veterans with the respect and highest level of care they deserve, which is why benefits must be provided in the most efficient way possible. Congress must be willing to identify and adjust resources so veterans have access to programs they require both now and in the future.
Unfortunately, veterans here in Central Washington and across our country are not receiving the care they deserve, and I have been focused on fixing this broken system. I have questioned many senior VA officials about the Cerner rollout during House Veterans Affairs Committee hearings and will continue to work with my colleagues to provide oversight and transparency on these issues.
I am proud to have voted for H.R. 3967, the Honoring Our PACT Act, which increases disability compensation and expands health care services for our military service veterans who were exposed to burn pits and other dangerous substances while serving our nation. I helped pass the VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act, which included my amendment to ensure America’s veterans are guaranteed access to emergency care at all Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals. I cosponsored the PAWS for Veterans Therapy Act, which implements a program to provide service dog therapy for veterans—and has since been signed into law. I’m also proud to have helped gain approval for the original application for Chuck Austin Place, a veterans housing project and services center in Yakima which opened in November of last year.
Our veterans have given so much to our community and our country, and they deserve to be honored—not just on November 11th, but every day. Please join me and recognize America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good. As a Member of Congress, I will continue to raise the voices of Central Washington’s veterans and their families at the highest levels of government. To all those who have served—our country salutes you. May God bless you and may God bless America.
Congressman Dan Newhouse of Sunnyside serves the 4th Congressional District in Washington, D.C.
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