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Congresswoman Suzan DelBene

Representing the 1st District of Washington

Veterans

As a nation, we have an obligation to care for those who have risked their lives and made painful sacrifices for our families and our freedoms. I am committed to working with my colleagues in Congress to ensure all our veterans are receiving the support and benefits they deserve and have earned.  That’s why I’ve created a Veterans Advisory Board made up of local veterans to advise me on ways the federal government can better serve veterans.

One of our top priorities must be providing veterans with the best possible medical care. Like many Americans, I was appalled by revelations in 2014 that Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) officials manipulated records at healthcare facilities across the country to conceal or falsify long wait times. That’s why, during a previous session of Congress, I supported the passage of the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act, which allows veterans facing long wait times or geographic barriers to VA care to obtain medical services through non-VA providers. That legislation also began to address long-term capacity issues by authorizing the VA to hire more providers and lease new facilities, and increased accountability by authorizing the VA Secretary to fire or demote any senior official for poor performance. However, our work is far from finished. I will continue fighting to ensure all our veterans have timely access to high-quality care.

I also believe we need to promote greater access to educational opportunities and job-training programs for unemployed veterans and servicemembers transitioning back into civilian life. Across all age groups, more than 450,000 unemployed veterans are currently struggling to find work. This is unacceptable. To help veterans find long-term, good-paying jobs, I have introduced the Manufacturing Jobs for Veterans Act to accelerate skills training for veterans in manufacturing career pathways and to encourage manufacturers to recruit, hire and train our heroes. I am also a cosponsor of the Putting Our Veterans Back to Work Act, which would reauthorize and strengthen successful programs such as the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP), provide support to veteran-owned small businesses, and create a new online portal for veterans seeking information on federal employment and job-training resources.

Among my other key priorities in Congress are:

  • Reducing the VA’s Disability Claims Backlog. After more than 15 years of war, it is unacceptable that some veterans are being asked to wait hundreds of days for their disability claims to be handled — with thousands more being forced to appeal decisions that were wrongly denied. That’s why I joined my colleagues in calling on the VA to eliminate the backlog, and why I voted to increase funding by $20 million for backlog reduction efforts, including the digitization of health and benefits records, staff overtime and centralization of the VA mail system. Most recently, I voted for bipartisan reforms to the appeals process to ensure veterans receive more timely decisions from the VA.
     
  • Advancing Equality for LGBT Veterans. More than 1 million veterans who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) have served our nation, and many of these heroes continue to face unique challenges and discriminatory laws that prevent full access to VA benefits and services. That’s why I introduced the Voices for Veterans Act to add LGBT veterans to the membership and scope of the VA’s Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans, which advises the VA Secretary on the needs of minority veterans with respect to compensation, health care, rehabilitation, outreach and other VA benefits and services.
     
  • Ending Veteran Homelessness. While veteran homelessness has dropped nearly 50 percent since 2010, more than 35,000 veterans remain homeless today. To help end veteran homelessness, I have urged the House Appropriations Committee to provide robust funding for the HUD-VASH program, which helps homeless veterans become self-sufficient by combining rental assistance from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) with case management and support services from the VA. We must continue to support this life-saving program as more of our servicemembers return home.
     
  • Expanding Access to Care for Victims of Military Sexual Trauma. I am deeply concerned that the VA is denying access to care for too many victims of military sexual trauma (MST) due to ongoing difficulties with the reporting and documentation of sexual assault in the military. I fought to expand access to mental health services and other necessary care for victims of MST by cosponsoring the Ruth Moore Act, which passed the House in 2015, and I have repeatedly called on the VA to reduce unfair evidentiary barriers placed on MST survivors in filing disability claims. I will keep fighting to improve the lives of the thousands of veterans who have suffered from sexual assault in the military. 

More on Veterans

Aug 8, 2017 Press Release
KIRKLAND – Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (WA-01) today hosted a Veterans History Project reception at Lake Washington Institute of Technology to record the stories of the brave men and women who have served our country. “As a nation, we have a duty to ensure the painful sacrifices made to protect our families and freedoms are never forgotten,” DelBene said. “I’m honored to team up with the Library of Congress to help preserve the stories of First District veterans for the Veterans History Project.”
Jul 31, 2017 eNewsletters
Dear Friend, In 2000, Congress established the Veterans History Project (VHP) to collect and preserve the stories and experiences of our nation’s veterans. These audio and video interviews serve as a valuable archive of firsthand insights into the realities of war.
Jun 22, 2017 In The News
Good news from the folks at Workforce Snohomish in south Everett as word is they have received a grant of a quarter million dollars to continue and expand programs for homeless veterans in our area. Click here for the rest of the story.
Jun 9, 2017 In The News
Rep. Suzan DelBene met with LGBT veterans on June 5 and announced that she will introduce legislation to add LGBT vets to the federal Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans. The committee, established by Congress in 1994, advises the Veterans Administration secretary on the needs of minority veterans in the areas of compensation, health care, rehabilitation, outreach, and other VA benefits and services, and recommends program improvements to meet their specific needs.
Jun 5, 2017 Press Release
SEATTLE – Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (WA-01) today heard from local LGBT veterans about their experiences accessing healthcare and benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). When Congress returns this week, DelBene will reintroduce her bipartisan bill, the Voices for Veterans Act, to reauthorize and expand the VA’s Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans to include LGBT veterans in its membership and scope.
Apr 28, 2017 In The News
Before heading back to Washington, D.C., to address the nation’s budget, First Congressional District Rep. Suzan DelBene met with her recently formed Veterans Advisory Board to discuss issues of importance to veterans and what her office can do to make their lives easier. DelBene, members of her staff and board members discussed military sexual trauma (MST), veteran homelessness, veteran suicide and other difficulties veterans face when they leave the military, at last week’s meeting at Lake Washington Institute of Technology (LWTech) in Kirkland.
Feb 16, 2017 Press Release
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Reps. Suzan DelBene (WA-01) and Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA-03) today introduced the bipartisan Child Abuse Accountability Enhancement Act (H.R. 1103), closing a legal loophole that denies justice for some survivors of child abuse.
Feb 14, 2017 eNewsletters
Dear Friend,
Feb 13, 2017 In The News
Congresswoman Suzan DelBene visited a local Veterans Administration (VA) hospital to drop off hundreds of valentines made by First District students on Saturday. Valentines for Veterans is a program that encourages the community to recognize veterans throughout the year. Some of the valentines came from students at Moorlands Elementary in Kenmore.
Feb 12, 2017 In The News
It wasn’t a typical assignment, but Machias Elementary School sixth-grader Liv Harrison put her heart into it. “To someone special,” Liv wrote. She had decorated her pink construction-paper card with hearts and Cupid’s arrows. Benjamin Studley, a 37-year-old Navy veteran and former Machias Elementary Bobcat, was on a mission when he visited his alma mater Thursday. As Liv, her classmates and other students created cards, Studley made his rounds at the Snohomish district school. He was there as part of a Valentines for Veterans effort.

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