America's service men and women should be able to count on the full and unwavering support of their government. We have 21 million service members living across our country, with more than 1.5 million here in Florida, including more than 30,000 veterans in my own Congressional district. It is our duty as Americans to ensure that these veterans have easy access to the benefits and services they so rightly deserve, including comprehensive health services, employment and educational opportunities, and support for their families.
We owe our veterans nothing less than the highest quality health care, delivered in a timely fashion. That is why I have supported legislation, such as Veterans' Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014, to provide for reform and accountability at the VA. Like many of you, I was shocked and appalled to hear stories out of Phoenix and elsewhere – reports of veterans waiting hundreds of days for basic health care, or of VA clinics falsifying wait times. I will continue to vote for legislation that holds VA officials accountable for their misconduct, while also ensuring the VA has the resources necessary to provide comprehensive, timely health services.
To protect the ability of veterans to access all of the benefits they deserve, I support legislation aimed at making it easier for veterans to verify their service and qualify for educational assistance, as well as policies to increase veteran Cost of Living Adjustments and retirement and disability pay. Benefits that allow our veterans to pursue continued education, retire with financial security, and support physical and mental health are sacred and I will continue to fight for them.
In addition to providing VA benefits, we must also support our veterans’ successful integration back into the workforce. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports veteran unemployment and homelessness are dropping, partially due to strong initiatives led by the Obama Administration to address these issues, but we know that one unemployed veteran is too many. That is why I led legislation which recently became law to transition veteran medics into physician assistants, and why I’m proud to co-host an annual Jobs Fair for veterans with my good friend and colleague, Rep. Ted Deutch.
I believe we have a duty to protect and provide for every American who serves, and I pledge to always honor their service, sacrifices and their dedication to our nation.
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