Those who have served our country in uniform and put their life on the line to defend our freedom deserve to be treated in a way that reflects the great sacrifices they have made on our behalf. We always hear that on the battlefield, the military pledges to leave no soldier behind. I believe that as a nation, we must pledge that when they return home, we leave no veteran behind.
Here are some of my actions in Congress to help veterans and military families, and ensure that they get the treatment and care they deserve:
Created a Wounded Warrior Service Dog Program which offers competitive grants to nonprofits that train service dogs to address the physical and mental health needs of veterans. So far, I have successfully secured federal funding for this program every year since 2014, and I am currently working to pass legislation that would permanently authorize and fund this important program. The funding I have secured has helped train thousands of dogs that care for and treat veterans with physical disabilities and post-traumatic stress.
Successfully championed legislation to increase the military death gratuity to families of military personnel killed while on active duty, including families of Reserves and National Guard. I introduced a bill, H.R. 3019, to double the military death gratuity benefit for military personnel killed in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere from $6,000 to $12,000, restore its former tax exempt status, and make these benefits retroactive to September 11, 2001. The idea was passed by the House in a unanimous vote on October 29, 2003, and was signed into law by President Bush on November 11, 2003.
To guarantee that highest standards of service and accountability are maintained by the VA, I was proud to vote for the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act. This bill — signed into law in 2017— would give the Secretary of Veterans Affairs more power to remove negligent employees and protect those who bring wrongdoing to light.C
Consistently and strongly supported increasing healthcare accessibility for veterans while blocking efforts to privatize the VA. For example, I pushed for the creation of a state-of-the-art community-based outpatient clinic for veterans in Worcester that will open in 2021 and ensure that veterans in Worcester County no longer have to make an hour-long trip to Boston or Northampton for medical care.
Voted YES on The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act, which was signed into law by the president on June 25th, 2019, which extends the presumptive coverage of Agent Orange related illnesses to veterans who served up to 12 miles off-shore of Vietnam from 1962 through 1975.
I also cosponsor important bills like:
The Homeless Veteran Families Act, which includes the children of homeless veterans when calculating certain per diem grants.
The FIGHT Veteran Suicides Act, which requires the VA to notify Congress after a completed or attempted suicide in/on the property of a VA facility, which requires VA to provide guidance for Congress to safely message such events.
The Legal Services for Homeless Veterans Act, which allows the secretary of Veterans Affairs to allocate grants to legal services providers that serve veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
Military Housing Oversight and Service Member Protection Act, which would give the Secretary of Defense statutory responsibility to ensure that privatized military housing providers are meeting the terms of their contracts.