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
Earlier this afternoon, Congressman Joe Wilson (SC-02) received The L. Mendel Rivers Award, which was presented to him by the Air Force Sergeants Association. This honor is considered the Association’s “Legislator of the Year” award and is named after the late Congressman L. Mendel Rivers (D-SC), a former Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Each year, the Air Force Sergeants Association recognizes a recipient who champions the cause of outstanding service to the Air Force Active Duty, Guard and Reserve.
Today, House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel Chairman Joe Wilson (SC-02) sent a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta requesting a briefing and explanation from the Department of Defense regarding the reprogramming request of $708 million from the Defense Health Program (DHP) and TRICARE. The Department of Defense has requested to use these funds for “higher priorities”; however, Chairman Wilson, along with 23 other Members of Congress, believes there are serious health issues facing our Armed Services and their families, which should take first priority.
Congressman Joe Wilson (SC-02) issued the following statement after the House passed H.R. 5872, the Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012, by a vote of 414-2.
Congressman Joe Wilson (SC-02) issued the following statement after learning First Lieutenant Ryan Rawl of Lexington, SC was killed Wednesday in Afghanistan.
The Subcommittee on Military Personnel met today to examine the military resale programs within the Department of Defense, specifically the commissaries and exchanges operated by the Department. Chairman Joe Wilson gave the following opening statement: