Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Congressman Harry Mitchell - "Honoring Our Nation's Veterans

From an email message from Congressman Mitchell -
This Veterans Day, I want to make sure we all take a moment to give thanks to our men and women in uniform. I sought out a seat on the House Veterans Affairs’ Committee because I believe that the best way to honor the sacrifices of our veterans is to ensure they receive the care and dignity they have earned.

As Chairman of the House Veterans’ Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, and as someone who represents more than 65,000 veterans, I have been working hard to deliver the benefits and care our veterans have earned. I believe this is critical in meeting the needs of the 363,000 veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan in need of care over the last three years.

The care of our veterans, servicemen and servicewomen are not just Democratic concerns or Republican concerns. They are American concerns. And we have worked together to help deliver results:

Service Members Homeownership Tax Act, H.R. 3590: while helping to stabilize our housing industry, this bill ensures our service men and women can take full advantage of the $8,000 Homebuyer Tax Credit

Military Spouses Residency Relief Act, H.R. 1182/S.475: allows service members to maintain their residency for various purposes including voting, income taxes, and personal property taxes.

Veterans Retraining Act, H.R. 1168: authorizes a monthly training assistance allowance of upwards of $1,400 for each month that a veteran is enrolled in an employment-training program that teaches a skill in demand.

•The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, H.R. 1: provided a $1.4 billion increase for the Department of Veterans Affairs for maintenance at VA medical facilities, construction of veterans’ extended care facilities, and veteran cemetery repairs and $250 stimulus payments to disabled veterans.

I am also working with the VA and our committee to make sure we are keeping the promises we’ve made to our veterans.

•New Electronic Medical Records: continued to examine the progress being made by the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs in ensuring electronic health record interoperability when transitioning to civilian life.

•Diseases Associated with Agent Orange: established a service-connection for Vietnam Veterans with B cell leukemia’s, such as hairy cell leukemia; Parkinson’s disease; and ischemic heart disease.

•Challenged the VA to ensure veterans receive their GI Bill benefits: called on VA to lay out a plan to prevent more untimely delays of GI Bill benefits. No veteran should fall behind because of the VA’s inability to deliver the benefits our brave veterans have earned.

Earlier this year I had the honor of being presented its ‘Distinguished Legislator Award’ by the American Legion Department of Arizona for my commitment and work on behalf of the nation's veterans. Previous Distinguished Legislator Award recipients include Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl. And while I was humbled to be recognized by the American Legion, I believe strongly that our veterans have stood for us and it is our duty to stand for them.

There’s still much work to be done. This Veterans Day, make sure to take a moment to give them thanks.



P.S. To stay updated, please visit my website to learn more what I’m doing to honor those who have served us.

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