Friday, November 10, 2017
Billy Long: I will work to pass legislation that supports our veterans
Every November 11, we celebrate the service and sacrifice of our U.S. Armed Forces. This dates back to 1919, commemorating the end of World War I. Congress officially designated this a federal holiday in 1938, then known as Armistice Day. However, it wasn’t until 1954 that we recognized this day more appropriately as Veterans Day.
Every one of us know or have family that have served our country. The freedoms we enjoy would not be possible without the prior service of veterans and our armed forces stationed around the world today. We can never adequately pay our debt of gratitude to our veteran heroes, but we should always give them our best, just as they have and continue to do for us.
I consider it a privilege to represent these brave men and women and place a high priority on keeping the promises that we make to them. As such, I have supported several pieces of legislation aimed at protecting their benefits and provide assistance to them in their dealings with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and other government agencies.
Members of Congress may have their differences when it comes to ideology, but I think we can all agree on supporting our veterans to the highest degree. One way to start is by reforming the VA system. With more than 20 million veterans in the country, the VA plays a vital role in providing sufficient and accessible care for veterans.
Recently, two pieces of legislation were signed into law - H.R. 3218, the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act and S. 1094, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act. H.R. 3218, also known as the Forever G.I. Bill, increases the amount of benefits veterans receive under the post-9/11 G.I. bill and allows veterans to use their G.I. bill at any point in their life. S. 1094 ensures that our veterans are treated fairly by protecting those who expose wrongdoing.
However, there is still more we can do. Earlier this year, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1259, the VA Accountability First Act, which would increase the VA Secretary’s flexibility to remove, demote and suspend VA employees while also providing protection for whistleblowers. I am hopeful the Senate will consider this legislation and it can be signed into law by the president.
I will continue to do my part and work with my colleagues to get rid of the excessive red tape and pass legislation that supports our veterans. Generations of Americans have sacrificed to protect our country, and as such we are obligated to do our part and protect those courageous men and women.