Rouzer Op-Ed: Improving The Quality Of Veterans Benefits A Top Priority

US Congressman David Rouzer (R-NC) issued the following op-ed for Veterans Day 2019:

Each Veterans Day, we as a nation pause to pay special tribute to the service and sacrifice of the millions of American men and women who have served our nation in uniform since our nation’s founding.

Approximately 730,000 of those veterans live in North Carolina today, and they continue to make vital contributions to our communities.  Many are in the workforce.  They serve as public officials, first responders, medical professionals and highly-skilled workers.  They are entrepreneurs.  More than 86,000 businesses in North Carolina are veteran-owned – more than 1 in 10 North Carolina companies.  They put the skills they learned in the service of our nation to work for our communities right here at home.

But despite the incredible contributions our veterans have made in the service of our country, they don’t always receive the care and benefits they deserve.  Up until recently, VA facilities across the nation were plagued by long wait times, poor service, excessive backlogs and outdated technology and facilities.  Many still are — but many more are much improved.

It’s why I continue to make improving the quality of benefits our veterans receive a top priority while in Congress, and I’ve added talented members to my team who specialize in helping veterans navigate the complex VA bureaucracy.  One of the first measures I authored that was signed into law was the Combat-Injured Veterans Tax Fairness Act, which helps identify veterans that have been wrongly deprived of their full severance.

President Trump has made a similar commitment to overhaul the VA from top to bottom. His choice for V.A. Secretary, Robert Wilkie, is an advantageous one for North Carolina: Secretary Wilkie is a North Carolina native, attended Wake Forest and has a long and distinguished history of military service in addition to his many other years of public service in a variety of capacities.

This Administration and Congress have been working together — and we’ve made significant progress.  The key signature bill of this past Congress was the VA MISSION Act, groundbreaking legislation approved last year that addresses a host of in-network and non-VA health care issues.  It greatly expands a veteran’s ability to access community care, particularly if a VA facility is not easily accessible from the veteran’s home. It improves training for VA employees, eliminates wasteful and redundant programs, and provides more funding for VA facilities badly in need of upgrades.

Congress has also passed legislation that the President has signed into law making a number of other improvements to the VA infrastructure, including improving our ability to hold VA officials and doctors accountable for misconduct or poor performance.  We’ve passed the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act, which expands access to needed medical care for a broad category of veterans who served offshore during the Vietnam War.  And we’ve passed a measure to make mortgages more affordable for veterans.  Because of these measures, and the effective management of President Trump and Secretary Wilkie, we are seeing results.  Wait times are down, backlogs have been reduced and the overall quality of care at the VA is improving around the nation.

But there is always more to do.  For example, I recently authored bipartisan legislation that would help protect veterans’ credit histories.  My staff has encountered an issue with a number of veterans we work with where the veteran gets their credit knocked when the VA fails to pay a private provider for emergency or other care.  As a result, the veteran takes this a hit to their credit score often times without even knowing it until they need to buy a car or get a mortgage or apply for a credit card.

Every day, my staff works with veterans and their caregivers who are frustrated with the red tape and bureaucracy of the federal government.  If you or a loved one are a resident of the 7th Congressional District who is having trouble with the VA, I encourage you to contact my office at (910) 395-0202 or visit my website at Rouzer.House.Gov.

As we take time in communities across North Carolina to honor our veterans this time of year, we continue to work to ensure the federal government gets better at fulfilling the promise it made to our veterans for their service to our nation.