Putting our veterans first
Published 8:35 am Wednesday, July 12, 2017
Editorial by Dr. Brian Babin
America is the greatest nation on Earth because of those who have sacrificed so much to keep us free and safe: our nation’s veterans. We are truly blessed by God to live in the land of the free – and we are forever grateful to those who have preserved this freedom through their sacrifices in defense of America.
As a veteran and the father of a decorated Navy SEAL, I have a deep appreciation for the men and women who have served in uniform. In Congress, I am proud to represent over 50,000 veterans that call the 36th Congressional District home. I am committed to seeing that these heroes and their families receive the respect, treatment and benefits that they have undoubtedly earned and deserve.
Each year, we hold veterans town hall meetings across the 36th Congressional District to bring the VA directly to our local veterans. We also have staff in our offices dedicated to helping veterans cut through the VA bureaucracy and get the answers they need. At our veteran’s town hall events, we often hear firsthand about the specific problems these men and women face with the VA. While most VA employees are trying to do their best to serve veterans, there are far too many bad actors that need to be fired or held accountable.
I am pleased to report we have made great progress to change that as President Trump recently signed into law the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act (S. 1094), which will streamline the process to fire, demote or suspend VA employees who have failed to fully serve our veterans.
This historic and much-needed piece of legislation will also allow us to recoup taxpayer-funded bonuses from those employees who acted improperly at the VA while expanding protections for VA whistleblowers. Simply put, it brings real accountability to the VA and takes significant steps to change the culture to ensure veterans are put first.
This year, I have also actively supported the passage of several bills to improve the care of our nation’s veterans, including legislation to streamline the appeals process, end the abuse of wait lists, prioritize veterans hiring and provide a cost-of-living increase for disabled veterans.
Furthermore, President Trump’s budget calls for one of the largest increases in veteran’s funding in a decade – making sure we fulfill our promises to veterans. This is a good step forward, but more than the funding increases, the budget would bring greater accountability to ensure each dollar spent better serves veterans.
For those currently serving in uniform, we are taking important steps to rebuild America’s military by increasing defense spending to ensure that our service men and women have the equipment, training, support and resources they need to win on the battlefield.
I am fighting every day in Congress for America’s veterans and their families. They deserve the utmost respect and gratitude for their service and sacrifice to our country. To all of our veterans, I say thank you. We owe you a debt of gratitude that is immeasurable.
Dr. Brian Babin is the U.S. Congressional Representative for the 36th District