Supporting our Military and Veterans
I met with local veterans at my office’s Veteran’s Summit, where my staff and I worked to connect Sacramento County veterans with resources and services, such as employment training and health care.
I am humbled by the enormous sacrifices of our service members and veterans. They have served us, and now we must serve them.
As a doctor who has worked in the VA system and worked with World War II and Korean War veterans, I believe we must do a better job of ensuring our heroes have access to the health care and support services they have earned while they are serving, and when they return. No one who has risked his or her life for our country should be unemployed, homeless, or lacking medical care, and we must do everything we can to prevent these things from happening.
While modern medical care is helping service members survive injuries they never would have in the past, many more are also coming home with emotional wounds, such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Our nation has an obligation to take care of our veterans mentally and physically.
- 21st Century Health Care for Heroes Act
- Helping Returning Heroes Find Jobs
- Ensuring Returning Heroes Receive their Earned Benefits
- Supporting our Local Men & Women in Uniform
I was honored to co-author the 21st Century Health Care for Heroes Act with my Republican colleague form New York, Chris Gibson. I’m proud to report that this bill is now law of the land.
Part of a bipartisan effort to construct a streamlined and easily accessibly electronic health record system for service members and veterans, this common-sense initiative will have the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs merge their electronic health records.
This will save money, makes the transition to civilian life easier for vets, and help address the VA backlog. In essence, it will help make government work for our veterans.
The greatest investment America ever made was the first GI Bill after World War II, which gave a whole generation of Americans a chance to obtain a decent education and build a new life for themselves and their families. After all that our veterans have sacrificed for us, Congress has a duty to ensure veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan receive a quality education and job training to build a secure future.
Veterans are unemployed at alarmingly high rates, including more than 20 percent of veterans between the ages of 18 and 24. We need to do everything we can to ensure our veterans’ successful transition to civilian life. In Congress, I am committed to support programs that help veterans find employment.
- Supporting Veteran Employment Transition Act: I proudly sponsored the Veteran Employment Transition Act (H.R. 2056), which takes a number of crucial steps to make sure our veterans can find work. It extends the Work Opportunity Tax Credit to encourage employers to hire veterans, and improves government-wide coordination of veteran’s job training programs. It also requires more transparency to ensure federal agencies contract with small businesses owned by service-disabled veterans.
Veterans learn critical skills during their service abroad and these training programs help apply those skills to the civilian workforce.
- Amendment to Cybersecurity bill: Many of our veterans are also our best computer specialists. I authored an amendment to the Cybersecurity Enhancement Act that will ensure the recruitment of military veterans for our cyberseucrity workforce. My amendment keeps our nation safe from cybersecurity attacks while helping our returning heroes find new jobs applying skills developed in the military.
The backlog at the VA is a growing and serious issue for our veterans and their families. The claims inventory has nearly 900,000 unique cases and the wait period is often over 200 days. This is downright unacceptable treatment and I am working in Congress to address the backlog.
You may be interested to know that my local office in Rancho Cordova specializes in helping service members and veterans with any problems they may be having with the federal government. I would be honored to help you or a loved one who needs assistance, so please call (916) 635-0505 or visit the services page on my website to learn more.
Improving Efficiency at the VA: I voted for the Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill (H.R. 2216), which funded the medical care and benefits for our heroes. The Department of Veterans’ Affairs should be adequately funded to quickly handle the cases of our heroes.
I also supported an amendment hiring 94 additional claims processors at the VA’s office to help reduce the unnecessary backlog and respond more quickly to veterans claim requests. Additional personnel will enable to the VA to better serve our heroes.
Veterans Backlog Reduction Act: I am a proud co-sponsor of the Veterans Backlog Reduction Act, a bill that provides any veteran provisional compensation if their disability claim is not handled in 125 days. This bill ensures all of our veterans receive compensation they deserve in a timely manner.
Sacramento County is home to many veterans and men and women currently serving in uniform, both at home and abroad. We have representatives from the County in every branch of the service including the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, National Guard, and Coast Guard.
Our men and women serving in the military are among the most dedicated and talented in the world. Many of the people have gone through multiple deployments, and all of them and their families have made many sacrifices. Americans should be proud of them and grateful for their service, and we must do everything we can to give them the support they need and deserve when they return home.
Visiting Troops in Afghanistan: In May, I visited with members of the American military in Afghanistan. I met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and U.S. officials to discuss the withdrawal of U.S. troops, regional security concerns, and the role our strategic partners will play in the region during the transition.
I also had the opportunity to meet several service members from Sacramento County, including Michael Alcalay, a service member from Carmichael. Americans should be proud of Michael and other service men and women and grateful for their service, and we must do everything we can to give them the support they need and deserve when they return home.
Hosting Local Veterans Summit: In August, I hosted a veterans’ summit that connected local veterans with resources in the Sacramento and heard about their concerns. Veterans were able to connect with community organizations for help finding jobs, learning about vocational and educational opportunities, accessing health care and counseling, and more.
Fighting for Local Vets: Through the Wounded Warrior program, my office recently hired Matthew Ceccato. He will be facilitating and coordinating responses to a wide range of requests from military and veteran constituents and will serve as a liaison to veteran organizations in Sacramento County. Please click here to learn more about how Matthew and my office can help veterans and service members with the federal government.
Matthew served in Iraq in 2003 and 2005 before he was injured. He spent almost a year recovering at Walter Reed other hospitals, and knows firsthand the numerous challenges that veterans face transitioning back to civilian life. It is an honor to be able to add one of our nation’s brave veterans to my dedicated staff.
More on Supporting our Military and Veterans
When California Congressman Ami Bera met New York Rep. Christopher Gibson at a dinner last April, they began a conversation about how the two of them -- a physician and a retired Army colonel, a Democrat and a Republican -- might work together in Congress to advance the country’s interests.
It didn’t take them long to come up with an idea.