Thank you very much to the Members of the Committee for the work you do on behalf of our nation’s veterans, and thank you for the opportunity to testify alongside my colleagues in the Bipartisan Working Group. As a member who does not serve on this Committee, it is an honor to represent my district’s nearly 50,000 veterans, and their families, here today.
As someone whose family was rescued by the U.S. Navy while escaping Vietnam, supporting U.S. military servicemembers and veterans is deeply personal to me. The issues that this body considers are also of tremendous importance to the people of central Florida. The Orlando VA Medical Center provides health care services to nearly 110,000 veterans each year.
In general, my constituents have spoken highly of the services they receive through the VA. However, as the committee knows all too well, there is still far more we can and should do for our veterans, to include ending veteran homelessness, improving access to mental health services, reducing VA wait times, and revamping transition services for departing servicemembers.
If we are serious about crafting enduring solutions to these problems, we have to work across the aisle. That is why I am testifying today alongside my colleagues in the Bipartisan Working Group. Last year, we introduced the Accountability for Quality VA Healthcare Act, which contains a set of proposals individually developed by members of our caucus and packaged together to implement a number of GAO recommendations that would improve the management and efficiency of the VA.
As part of this larger effort, I worked with Congresswoman Susan Brooks to develop the Improve Access to Care for Our Female Veterans Act, which would ensure the VA is better equipped to provide female veterans the care and services they have earned.
And last week, I was encouraged to see the committee approve legislation, sponsored by Congressman Correa, that would implement these same GAO recommendations addressed by our bill.
Beyond improving VA services, veterans in my district also have expressed frustration with the inadequate resources provided to servicemembers to prepare them for success after they leave the military.
As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I worked to secure a provision in the NDAA that would better help servicemembers to transition to civilian life. It does this by making it easier for them to attend targeted, two-day workshops that get them ready to attend college, learn a trade, or start a small business.
The professional staff of this committee were instrumental in this effort.
There is much more we can do in this space, and I look forward to continuing to work with this committee.
Thank you again for your consideration and for your unwavering commitment to our nation’s veterans.
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