Over 3.5 million veterans have deployed in the Global War on Terror (GWOT), and a disturbingly high percentage of them have been exposed to airborne toxic hazards during their service because of burn pits. Congress and VA must work establish the presumption of exposure to all GWOT veterans and pass comprehensive legislation to provide long-overdue healthcare for veterans suffering from the effects of toxic exposure.
The future of VA healthcare is a hybrid system consisting of inpatient and outpatient care, telehealth, can community care. Congress must ensure that VA has the most efficient technology and infrastructure needed to reach veterans no matter where they reside.
When servicemember transition from active service back to the civilian lifestyle, they may feel isolated and stressed. Unfortunately, these issues can lead veterans to contemplate suicide. VA must expand and enhance their peer support services to encompass a wide variety of veterans’ needs.
Women are the fastest-growing demographic within the US Armed Forces. As a result of these change, VA will see an increased number of women veterans, specifically those falling within childbearing age. VA, with congressional oversight, must improve and increase access to gender-specific services and programs for women veterans.
Right now, VA deducts the retirement pay of veterans with a disability rating of less than 50%. Congress must pass S.344, the Major Richard Star Act, which will end forfeiture of retirement pay to receive disability compensation.
National Guard and Reserve servicemembers are increasingly called upon to confront unique challenges. Yet despite all we ask of them, they are too often denied a cornerstone benefit of service: the GI Bill. Congress must pass legislation that would expand GI Bill benefits to Army Reserve and National Guard servicemembers for every day served while activated under state orders.
Currently, servicemembers with a “general under honorable conditions” discharges do not qualify for the GI bill. Congress must amend GI Bill eligibility under the U.S. Code to allow servicemembers who received a “general under honorable conditions discharge” access to benefits.
In 2021, more than 8,000 servicemembers with permanent resident cards became American citizens; however, obtaining citizenship is not automatic and requires a servicemember to begin the process upon initial entry into the military. Congress must implement programs to ensure naturalization through honorable service is completed before non-citizen veterans are discharged, and pass H.R. 1182/S. 3212, Veteran Deportation Prevention and Reform Act, to provide protection to these veterans and their families from deportation.
Today, through the three Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) the president of the US can unilaterally commit US Arme Forced without congressional approval. Congress must reassert their responsibility regarding military force by repealing and replacing outdated Authorizations for Use of Military Force (AUMF).
While the US Coast Guard is no longer a part of the Department of Defense (DoD), its role in our domestic national security is vital. Congress must increase the Coast Guard budget annually and must protect pay and allowances for members of the Coast Guard during funding gaps.
Congress should change the U.S. Flag Code to codify patriotic and common customs and practices related to the display of the United States Flag.