Maui News

Gabbard Demands Action for Veterans

December 18, 2018, 9:14 AM HST
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Reps. Tulsi Gabbard and Brian Mast, along with the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) and other veteran service organizations, held a press conference on Wednesday to urge for more support for veterans.

Gabbard, who is the founder and co-chair of the Congressional Post 9/11 Veterans Caucus, said the Department of Veterans Affairsʻ (VA) bureaucracy is failing veterans.

“For months, hundreds of thousands of our nation’s veterans failed to receive their GI Bill payments,” Gabbard said. “Our post-9/11 generation of veterans are still suffering from debilitating and deadly illnesses as a result of toxic burn pits exposure. Female veterans are not able to get the care they need from the VA. Our veterans deserve better than to return home to empty promises and excuses. They deserve real leadership and action that honors their service and sacrifice.”

Melissa Bryant, the chief policy officer for IAVA, said the VAʻs response to the late and incorrect GI Bill payments has been slow and insufficient.

“We are thankful for Congresswoman Gabbard and Congressman Mast for standing with us on this important issue, as they have on so many other important issues impacting our brothers and sisters in arms— from recognizing and supporting women veterans like myself, to supporting those suffering from injuries due to burn pits and other toxic exposures.”

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Numerous lawmakers and veterans service organizations attended the conference to advocate for full repays for every veteran who received late and inaccurate GI bill payments, burn pit treatment, and better care for female veterans.

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Rep. Tulsi Gabbard urged VA Secretary Robert Wilkie to immediately address the technical problems contributing to the delays of payments affecting the educational pursuits, housing, financial security, and emotional well-being of veterans and their families. The congresswoman also championed the Burn Pits Accountability Act with the support of 147 cosponsors and 25 military service organizations (MSOs) and veterans service organizations (VSOs). The act would ensure that US service members will be evaluated for exposure to open burn pits and toxic airborne chemicals, according to Gabbardʻs press secretary. Gabbard also pushed for the Deborah Sampson Act as an effort to improve access and quality of care for female veterans.

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