Veterans and Military
Providing Timely and Quality Health Benefits to Every Veteran
Having served 23 years in the U.S. Navy and Naval Reserves, I understand the sacrifices that the men and women of our military and their families have made to defend our country’s freedoms. I believe we owe it to our veterans to ensure they have access to high-quality health care, a place to call home, the opportunity to obtain a world-class education and the skills they need to have a successful life as a civilian.
Fixing the VAThe Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) delivers high-quality health care to more than nine million veterans across the country at roughly 1,200 VA health care facilities, including three in Delaware. However, far too many veterans are having trouble getting access to the VA in a timely manner. That is why I have supported legislation to greatly improve veterans' access to health care services, particularly for those who have been waiting too long for essential care. The bill increases accountability for VA employees, while also providing the VA with 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. Despite this progress, Congress, the president and the VA must continue working together to improve veterans' access to health care and to restore both veterans' and taxpayers' trust in the agency.
If you are a veteran, or you know a veteran, in need of care who has had trouble making an appointment, please visit my constituent services page to find contact information for my Delaware offices.
Protecting the GI BillIn 1973, I returned home after serving in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. With the help of $250 each month from the GI Bill, I enrolled in the University of Delaware’s MBA program. The combination of my military service and the education afforded me through the GI Bill changed my life forever.
Today, the Post-9/11 GI Bill can cover the full costs of tuition and fees at public colleges and universities, including the University of Delaware and Delaware State University, as well as housing and book stipends to allow veterans to pursue their studies without incurring additional financial stress. Veterans can also transfer this incredible benefit to a spouse or child.
Unfortunately, a few bad actors in the for-profit college industry are taking advantage of veterans and taxpayers by exploiting a loophole in the law. The 90-10 Rule is a federal law passed by Congress in the 1990s that requires for-profit schools to derive at least 10 percent of their revenues from sources other than the federal government. However, a loophole exists that allows for-profit schools to count military and veteran education assistance as non-federal revenue. As a result, some for-profit institutions have aggressively—and sometimes deceptively—recruited veterans and their G.I. Bill benefits to receive 100 percent of their revenues from taxpayers.
With the enactment of the Post-9/11 GI Bill in 2008, veteran enrollment at for-profit colleges has skyrocketed relative to enrollment at public college. Since 2008, for-profit colleges have collected roughly 40 percent of Post-9/11 GI Bill tuition dollars – even as questions continue to be raised about these institutions' graduation, default, and job placement rates. It’s one of my top priorities to ensure that each veteran can get the most out of their hard-earned GI Bill benefits. That’s why I’ve introduced the Military and Veterans Education Protection Act to close the 90/10 loophole
Ending Veteran Homelessness in Delaware
In November 2016, I joined HUD Secretary Julian Castro, Governor Jack Markell, and the Delaware Congressional Delegation at Memorial Plaza in New Castle to celebrate progress in Delaware’s commitment to ending homelessness for our veterans. In 2014, First Lady Michelle Obama launched the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness, and in his 2015 State of the State Address, Governor Markell announced that the entire state of Delaware would answer that call and take up this challenge together. Right away, the Delaware State Housing Authority and Delaware Health and Social Services teamed up to identify Delaware’s veterans struggling with homelessness and implement a plan to end veteran homelessness in our state.
In less than two years, 414 veterans without homes have been placed in permanent housing in Delaware, making it the third state to reach its goal of effectively ending homelessness. By creating a sustainable, systematic response to a problem that faces far too many of our former service members, we have worked to ensure the number of homeless veterans in Delaware never moves backward from where it stands today. I am proud of the work the First State has done to quickly respond to this challenge by coming together in an effort to uphold our sacred commitment to the men and women who served our country.
Listening to Veterans
For more than three decades, I’ve hosted a Veterans Summit that brings together the leaders of Delaware’s Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs), our Congressional Delegation, and the leadership of the national and local VA. Each year at this meeting, we aim to find out what is working and what we can be doing better for our veteran community.
In 2017, I had the honor of welcoming VA Secretary Dr. David Shulkin for a timely and robust discussion of the most pressing issues for Delaware’s veteran community. Secretary Shulkin outlined an ambitious and much-needed plan to provide a more responsive health care system to our nation’s veterans. While we have seen some improvements since the wait time scandal erupted a few years ago, we have a lot more work to do in Washington and in Delaware to make sure every veteran has timely access to high-quality VA health care.
Expanding Job Opportunities for Veterans
We have a sacred obligation to veterans and their families, and that includes a responsibility to ensure that our returning heroes have resources and opportunities when they arrive home. Since 2011, the Delaware Congressional delegation has hosted several job fairs for veterans. At each job fair, hundreds of employers from across our state line up to get connected with veterans who have the skills and leadership training to be a highly-qualified and desirable job applicant.
I am also a member of the bipartisan Senate Veterans Jobs Caucus, which focuses on decreasing the unemployment rate of our nation’s veterans. We’ve committed to:
- Develop an “I Hire Veterans” Program that encourages veteran hiring within U.S. Senate offices.
- Hold monthly Member or staff-level events to share information on veterans employment initiatives.
- Monitor veterans employment issues by working with constituents, government and service organizations.
- Work with state, local and national employers on programs to hire veterans.