August 1, 2014
In President Lincoln’s second inaugural address he sought to bring a divided country together in describing a need to heal the wounds of our nation and our soldiers. He declared it our imperative “to care for him who shall have borne the battle.”
Nearly 100 years later, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) made those words its motto and its mission to serve and honor the men and women who are America’s veterans.
The VA has served our veterans admirably for many years, but it faces big challenges. Too many veterans are unemployed, too many aren’t getting the most out of their G.I. Bill benefits, too many are homeless, and too many aren’t getting the health care they need after returning from the battlefield.
This week I was proud to support a bill Congress sent to the president that will help the VA meet its responsibilities to our veterans. The legislation improves veterans’ access to health care services for those who are waiting too long for care they need. The bill increases accountability for VA employees, while also providing the VA the resources it needs to hire more doctors, nurses, and clinical staff to reduce wait times and maintain high-quality care at VA medical facilities across the country.
Earlier this week, the Senate also unanimously confirmed Bob McDonald as the new VA Secretary. I met now Secretary McDonald just before he was confirmed and I have the highest confidence that he’s the right man to lead the VA out of this difficult period. Congress and the president must now continue to work together with Secretary McDonald and the leadership of the VA to improve veterans’ access to health care and to restore both veterans’ and taxpayers’ trust in the agency. Passing a bill this week was a good first step.
I will continue to do all I can to honor and care for our veterans as President Lincoln would have envisioned.