Over the past decade, our Nation has been engaged in contingencies all over the world; most notably, Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. Frequent deployments and training has put a significant strain on our brave men and women in uniform, veterans and their families. As the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs rebalances and works to build efficiencies, we must ensure that we care for those who dedicated their lives to protect our freedom.
Our veterans should have the finest healthcare our nation has to offer. However, well-documented cases reveal that our VA system has failed to provide the level of care our veterans deserve and the American people expect. To help guide the Veteran’s Health Administration into the right direction, I cosponsored H.R. 4810, which passed the House of Representatives with a vote of 426 to 0. If enacted, this measure will allow a veteran to seek medical care at a non-VA facility if the wait time for an appointment exceeds the goal or if they reside more than 40 miles from a VA facility. We need to ensure that those of us in Congress, tasked with the duty of oversight, practice our due diligence and keep our Nation's veteran hospitals in line with the highest standards.
Likewise, the Obama Administration’s attempt to cripple the TRICARE benefit system threatens the health care of our active duty, retirees and their families. As a member on the House Armed Services Committee, I worked with the Chairman Buck McKeon to fight against these attacks, which would unfairly increase enrollment fees and introduce Military Treatment Facility fees.
Additionally, other benefits like decreases in pay and allowances, use of the Commissary, and removal of quality of life programs have also come under fire by the Administration. These programs are critical to the morale and welfare of our troops and help to increase wellness and family readiness.
Brave men and women volunteer to serve in the military because they believe in America and her freedoms. They deserve, and we owe them, the highest level of respect and gratitude. As Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel, I am committed to protecting and advocating for our active duty, retirees, veterans, and their families and proud to serve those who have sacrificed so much.
More on Our Veterans
The House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel held a hearing today on Mental Health Research. Chairman Joe Wilson (SC) made the following opening statement as prepared for delivery: Witness testimony can be found on the Committee Document Repository website or the HASC hearing page above. All witness testimony is as prepared for, and embargoed until delivery.
By DEDE BILES
When USC Aiken celebrated the official opening of its Veteran Student Success Center Sunday, it was fitting that the strip of fabric used in the ribbon-cutting ceremony was a patriotic red, white and blue. The facility, located in the school’s Gregg-Graniteville Library, is designed to aid men and women who served in the military in making the transition back to civilian life.
The House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel held a hearing today on the Impact of the Continuing Resolution, Sequestration, and Declining Operations and Maintenance Budgets on Military Personnel and Family Related Programs.
Congressman Joe Wilson and 48 other members of the House of Representatives today sent a bipartisan letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. The subject of the letter was the Department of Defense's recent decision to create the new Distinguished Warfare Medal (DWM) and place it above the Bronze Star and Purple Heart in the order of precedence. Recipients of the DWM are recognized for their extraordinary service that directly impacts combat operations, while not being physically present in a combat zone.
Chairman Joe Wilson of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel (SC-02) issued the following statement after introducing H.R. ___, the Healthcare for Early Retirement Eligible Reservists Act of 2013. This bill allows retirees of the National Guard and Reserve to receive medical and dental care at military treatment facilities prior to reaching age 60. The fiscal year 2009 National Defense Authorization Act granted qualifying retired reservists within our Armed Forces the ability to obtain early retirement, but did not grant healthcare benefits.