Supporting our Military and Veterans
At the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Mather Veterans Village, which will help house homeless and disabled Veterans. I was proud to work with community leaders to help make this project a reality.
As a doctor who has helped care for veterans, I've seen firsthand how much they've sacrificed for us. After giving so much for our country and our safety, the least we can do is make sure they have access to basic resources. The high rates of unemployment and homelessness among veterans are unacceptable. It’s troubling that many veterans face long wait times to access their hard-earned benefits and unnecessary bureaucracy is often to blame for delaying their access to quality medical care. We must do a better job of ensuring that our troops and vets have the support services and opportunities they've earned. They deserve nothing less than our unwavering support.
That’s why I've been working to fix problems at the VA since my first month in office. I’m proud that my local office has helped Sacramento County Veterans recover more than $1.9 million in benefits and services they were owed. Here’s how I’m working to support our men and women in uniform.
Here's how I'm working to support our military and veterans:
- Serving Local Veterans:
- Helping Returning Heroes Find Jobs:
- Fighting for First-Class Health Care for Veterans:
- Clearing Backlogged Veterans’ Benefits:
Sacramento County is home to many veterans and men and women currently serving in uniform. We must do a better job of ensuring they receive the support services and opportunities they've earned.
That’s why I’ve directed my local office to do everything it can to help Sacramento County veterans. I’m proud to have a Wounded Warrior Iraq War Veteran on my staff, and my office is constantly working to help area Veterans with backlogged benefits, health care issues, and more.
We’ve now helped veterans recover more than $1.9 million in earned benefits. We’re here to help you in any way we can. This includes help with backlogged benefits and health care issues, as well as matters with the Department of Defense and other federal agencies. We’ll also work to connect you with state, local, and community resources that you may need.
If you’re a local Veteran who needs help, please call my office at (916) 635-0505 or visit my Help for Veterans page to see how we may be able to help you.
Matt is a Wounded Warrior Iraq War Veteran who works on my local staff in Sacramento County. He’s dedicated to helping local veterans and I was honored to have him as my guest at the 2014 State of the Union Address in Washington, D.C.
Here are just some of the hundreds of veterans that we’ve served:
- Meet Corey: We helped Corey recover the earned benefits he was owed. After serving in the Army for 22 years, Corey wasn’t receiving the benefits he had earned because of a paperwork issue. He was struggling to make ends meet trying to pay for his home and caring for his four children. Click to watch the video and hear his story:
- Meet Aaron: We helped Aaron access the GI benefits he earned and needed to pay for college and to start a new career. An Army veteran, Aaron was deployed to Iraq twice and returned to Sacramento County to go to school to become a paramedic and a firefighter. After he stopped receiving his monthly GI bill payments, he was worried he’d have to pay for his college degree on credit cards. After calling my office, we helped him get his benefits reinstated.
- Meet Bill: We helped Bill update his VA disability rating to get the benefits he had earned. An Army and Navy veteran, Bill was finding it more and more difficult to stay active because of his service-related disabilities. But after repeatedly calling the VA for help, he still hadn’t received a response. Without the benefits he’d earned he was concerned that he may even lose his home. After working with the VA we were able to help him receive his earned benefits.
One of America’s greatest investments was the first GI Bill after World War II. This gave a whole generation of Americans the chance to obtain a decent education and build a new life for themselves and their families. Unfortunatley, today veterans often face higher rates of joblessness than other Americans. After all that they’ve sacrificed for us, Congress has a duty to get back to the great tradition of helping our veterans succeed. Veterans deserve a quality education, job training, and support so they can join the middle class and build a secure future. We need to do everything we can to ensure our veterans have a successful transition to civilian life.
How I Can Help: My office is here to help unemployed veterans however we can. If you’re a veteran who’s looking for a job, I hope you’ll check out my office’s Job Seeker Guide to find what kinds of resources are available to you. Our Help for Veterans page may also have information that can connect you with the help you need. Please also never hesitate to call us at (916) 635-0505.
- The Hire More Heroes Act: Government should make it easier, not harder, for businesses to hire veterans who are looking for work. That’s why I was proud to vote for the bipartisan Hire More Heroes Act, which is now law. This law, which was supported by Democrats and Republicans, makes a commonsense fix to the Affordable Care Act that makes it easier for businesses to hire veterans. Thanks to this law, businesses no longer have to meet burdensome requirements if they want to employ workers who already have health care through the VA or the Defense Department. This will encourage more veteran hiring and gives businesses greater flexibility.
- Veterans Entrepreneurship Act: We should encourage and help veterans who are looking to start small businesses. That’s why I also voted for the bipartisan Veterans Entrepreneurship Act, which is now law, to exempt veterans from paying an application fee when they apply for a loan from the Small Business Administration.
- Hiring Unemployed Veterans: We should make it a priority to hire veterans who are jobless and are looking for work. That’s why, in one of my first acts as your Congressman, I successfully amended a cyber security bill to encourage veteran hiring. And as Congress later debated separate legislation, I also offered an amendment to prioritize the hiring of unemployed veterans and the use of American-made equipment. Click the video below to see me offer my amendment:
- Boosting Rates of American Veteran Employment Act (BRAVE Act): The federal government issues numerous contracts with businesses every year to buy everything from printer ink to jet engines. As the government conducts this business, it should reward the businesses that do the right thing by hiring Veterans. That’s why I voted for the BRAVE Act. This bill would authorize the Department of Veterans Affairs to prefer businesses based on how many veterans they have on their payroll when considering government contracts.
Fortunate to have a meal and listen to our service members during an official congressional visit in Afghanistan.
As a doctor, I’ve been honored to personally care for World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War veterans. I’ve seen their sacrifices firsthand. As a nation, we have a solemn obligation to support them and make sure they get the best care possible.
Unfortunately, we know that the VA hasn’t always delivered the quality care that it should. Many veterans have had to wait far too long to get the medical care they’ve earned. In our area, a veteran tragically lost his life after a do-not-resuscitate band was mistakenly placed on his wrist.
This is inexcusable and we have a moral obligation to address it, regardless of party. We need to provide our heroes with the quality health care they deserve.
- Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act: Like many Americans, I was outraged by reports in 2014 that so many of our veterans were waiting far too long for the health care they needed. That’s why I voted for the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act. This bill is a direct response to the health crisis at the VA and is a compromise between both Republicans and Democrats.
This bill takes a number of important steps to ensure veterans can receive the health care they need. For instance, it gives qualifying veterans the choice of receiving care at another hospital if they can’t get an appointment at a VA facility within 30 days. It also takes steps to deny undeserved bonuses at the VA and makes it easier to dismiss senior VA managers who aren’t doing their jobs. Furthermore, it provides funding so the VA can hire more doctors on an expedited basis.
- 21st Century Health Care for Heroes: I was proud to introduce and pass the bipartisan 21st Century Health Care for Heroes Act. This bill, which is now law, requires the Defense Department and the Veterans Administration to streamline and update their electronic health records. This will both help reduce the backlog of veterans’ benefits at the VA and get our heroes the care they've earned.
This law is now being implemented, and I’m encouraged that both departments are making progress towards updating their records and making necessary changes. In December 2015, I was proud to vote for a bipartisan government funding bill to provide resources to help make sure these goals are met.
With my Republican colleague, Congressman Chris Gibson, during a meeting with the Defense Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs on the implementation of the 21st Century Health Care for Heroes Act.
- Responding to a Local Tragedy: As a doctor, I know every second counts in an emergency - you can’t waste time when a person’s life is at stake. That’s why I was especially concerned after learning that an unfortunate error at the Mather VA led to the death of a local veteran. This man died after a "do-not-resuscitate" band was incorrectly put on his wrist.
After learning about this incident, I called for a federal investigation by the independent Office of the Inspector General. They determined the hospital was responsible for a "delay in life-saving intervention." In response, I introduced the VA Quality Care Act to ensure stronger oversight so that any problems within the VA system are reported, communicated, and fixed. Play the clip below from KCRA to learn more about this tragic story:
- Doctors Helping Heroes Act: One of the primary reasons for the long wait times for veterans to receive care is a serious shortage of doctors at VA hospitals across the country. That’s why I introduced the bipartisan Doctors Helping Heroes Act. This bill would allow more American-trained, international doctors to practice in VA hospitals to ensure our heroes get the care they desperately need.
- Preventing Veteran Suicides: Veterans have a significantly higher risk of suicide than those who haven’t served in the military. We have a responsibility to make sure that every veteran has the support he or she needs. That’s why I voted for the bipartisan Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act, which is now law. This law helps make mental health care services more accessible.
The inexcusable benefit claims backlog at the Department of Veterans Affairs is a national disgrace.
We live in a 21st century information economy where American consumers can typically resolve problems more quickly and efficiently than ever before. But the VA continues to struggle with paper records and outdated systems that make it harder to process earned benefits on time.
It is our responsibility to ensure we fulfill our end of the bargain for the men and women who gave so much to our country. Veterans shouldn’t have to wait months or, in some cases, years to get the support they earned. They deserve so much more than what they have been getting.
- Helping Local Veterans: My office works to make sure that veterans get the benefits they’ve earned. If you’ve been waiting too long for your benefits, please contact us for assistance. We’ve already helped local veterans recover more than $1.9 million that they were owed and we’d be honored to help you too. Please call us at (916) 635-0505 or visit my Help for Veterans page to learn more.
- Holding the VA Accountable: I was extremely troubled by an independent government report that found our regional VA office in Oakland mismanaged thousands of veterans’ records, possibly delaying benefit payments even further. This is inexcusable and we absolutely must do better. That’s why I pushed the regional VA to make sure it individually contacted Veterans who were impacted, and I urged area veterans to contact my office for further help if they were having issues.
Supporting resources to clear the backlog: I’ve consistently supported funding for veterans programs and health care to make sure we have the resources we need to clear the VA backlog. Recently, I voted for a bipartisan funding bill that continues this support, which has been signed into law. The law includes a number of accountability measures, including regular public reports from VA regional offices detailing how many outstanding benefit claims they have.
More on Supporting our Military and Veterans
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Ami Bera (D-CA) released the following statement after the largest update to the GI Bill in ten years passed the House of Representatives. Rep. Bera was a sponsor of the bill that removes time limits for veterans to claim benefits, adds funding for vets pursuing STEM degrees, and increases benefits for thousands of Reservists and National Guard members.
Washington, D.C. – Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA) applauded the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act today with measures he strongly supports, including an increase in military pay, funds for America’s fight against ISIS and al-Qaeda, and measures to thwart Russian aggression.
“Our men and women in uniform deserve this much needed pay raise,” said Rep. Bera. “This bipartisan bill enhances our ability to fight ISIS and strengthens our commitment to veterans transitioning back to civilian life.”
I sent an email update on Friday about how I'm serving you now that President Trump has taken office. Please join my email updates today so you don't miss any in the future!
Washington, D.C. — Today, Rep. Ami Bera (CA-07), was named the Vice Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, a new deputy position.
The new Vice Ranking Member positions are intended to better harness emerging leaders in order to strengthen the fight on behalf of hard-working Americans.
Elk Grove – Today, following a letter from Congressman Ami Bera, M.D. (CA-7) the Department of Defense called for an end to the National Guard’s recoupment of bonuses from California veterans.
Elk Grove – Today, Congressman Ami Bera, M.D. (CA-7) called for an end to the National Guard’s recoupment of bonuses from California veterans.
I sent an email update on Friday on my latest work to support Sacramento County veterans. Join my email updates now so you don't miss any in the future!
Sacramento – Today, Congressman Ami Bera (CA-7) announced that Volunteers of America of Greater Sacramento and Northern Nevada, Inc. has received a grant of $1,226,241 from the Department of Veterans Affairs under the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program. The funding is directed to help very low-income veteran families around the nation who are permanently housed or transitioning to permanent housing, as well as services to prevent homelessness for veterans and their families.