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Opinion: Congressman Sam Graves – Bringing the VA into the 21st Century

Congressman Sam Graves represents the sixth district in the United States House of Representatives which includes a majority of the Northland. This is his November 21, 2016 newsletter. For more information on our Opinion Section and why we post these communications from your elected representatives please click here.

This year I’m wrapping up my first term as a member of the House Armed Services Committee. In the committee I’ve had the opportunity to serve as a voice for our veterans, our military men and women, and all of their families.

It is the federal government’s top priority to take care of everyone who’s risked their lives to protect this country. But unfortunately, due to problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Committee has had to work to correct problems that never should have existed in the first place.

The VA Inspector General reported that mismanagement, neglect, and possible criminal activity at VA hospitals is “systemic” throughout the VA hospital system. Some of these issues have tragically caused some veterans to die while literally waiting for the care they needed.

Part of the House’s Better Way agenda is bringing the VA into the 21stcentury, increasing efficiency, changing priorities, and making sure we never hear of stories like these again. Working to reform the VA will be one of the top priorities of Congress with a new Republican administration in the White House.

And I’ve already begun that work. As you may know, the VA recently identified a need for over 26,000 new health care workers. At the same time, the VA says that nearly half of all post-9/11 veterans will face a period of unemployment. This is simply unacceptable, but I believe these are two problems we can address simultaneously. That is why I wrote and introduced the Improving Veterans Access to Quality Care Act.

My bill will give military healthcare workers priority to get jobs in the VA healthcare system, recruiting combat medics straight from active duty service into careers providing healthcare to veterans. As your representative, I will continue working to pass common sense policies like these that ensure veterans get the care they deserve while bringing the VA into the 21st century.

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