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Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster

Representing the 2nd District of New Hampshire

A true NH hero

May 22, 2015
Catching up with Annie

I hope you are all having a productive week in preparation for the long weekend! Over the last two weeks, I have been in Washington and New Hampshire working on behalf of Granite State families. I was so excited to welcome Nashua native Mark Laing to Washington and show him around the Capitol during Foster Youth Shadow Day. I also joined members of New Hampshire’s law enforcement community to honor the memory of Officer Stephen Arkell, advocated for Granite State veterans at two Veterans’ Affairs hearings, and announced federal funding for infrastructure improvements in three North Country communities.

Welcoming Mark Laing for Foster Youth Shadow Day

I was delighted to welcome Mark to Washington for the fourth annual Congressional Foster Youth Shadow Day – his excitement and curiosity were inspiring. Nearly 70 foster youth and alumni from across the country traveled to Washington to shadow members of Congress in order to get a behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of the House of Representatives. During National Foster Care month, Mark and the other participants in this fantastic program remind us that even in the face of difficult challenges, so many foster children exhibit strength and optimismI am committed to helping ensure all foster children have the support they need to live healthy and happy lives, and I was grateful for the opportunity to hear directly from Mark about how Congress can work to support and improve our nation’s foster care system.

Honoring a Fallen Hero

During National Police Week, I joined with the New Hampshire Police Association and other guests to honor the memory of New Hampshire police officer Stephen Arkell. Arkell was an 18-year veteran of the Brentwood Police Department who was killed in the line of duty in May of last year. Officer Arkell dedicated his life to serving our community, and his bravery and courage were a true testament to the incredible work of our first responders to keep us safe. Officer Arkell was known for his kindness, selflessness, and deep commitment to family, friends, and the Granite State. I was proud to join with many of his fellow officers to honor his memory as his name was added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. Officer Arkell will always be remembered as a pillar of his community, and we thank him for his life’s work protecting New Hampshire families.

Improving Care for Granite State Veterans

During a House Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing on the implementation of the Veterans Choice Card program, I urged VA officials to encourage measures that would ensure continuity of care between the VA and community service providers. We must ensure that our veterans can receive the highest quality of care, regardless of their location. That’s why we must put mechanisms in place to encourage continuity of care between the VA and any local providers that are serving our veterans. When a veteran visits a medical center, that center should be able to easily access that veteran’s medical records electronically, which will cut down on the possibility of medical error and increase efficiency of care. Let’s make sure all of our local VAs have the capability to provide this support, even when veterans are visiting non-VA facilities.

I also questioned VA officials about purchase card cost overruns at the VA during a House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee Hearing on Oversight and Investigations (O&I). As the Ranking Member on the O&I Subcommittee, I was appalled to hear that the VA, which is already plagued by a number of other scandals, has been consistently misusing purchase cards and allowing indiscriminate spending to run rampant. While we must ensure that our veterans have access to high-quality services, resources, and medical equipment, the VA must be held accountable for failing to monitor its spending and wasting billions of dollars on equipment that could have been purchased much more efficiently using contract bidding or other monitored processes. At a time when every cent should be going towards improving health outcomes for our veterans, the VA does not have money to waste – and we must put an end to this egregious practice once and for all.

A Win for Infrastructure in the North Country

I was excited to announce funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program to help repair and improve water and wastewater infrastructure in three towns in the North Country.  Rural Development’s Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program awarded the town of Lancaster a $1,563,000 grant and $2,975,000 loan; the town of Colebrook a $2,054,000 grant and $2,688,000 loan; and the town of Northumberland a $1,288,300 grant and $1,569,000 loan to replace critical water systems and improve wastewater treatment systems.

New Hampshire must improve its aging infrastructure in order to stay competitive in the 21st century economy and to maintain public safety and well-being in communities across the state.  I’ve been a longtime advocate of protecting USDA Rural Development funds. In the Granite State’s many rural areas, Rural Development funding helps our communities maintain water infrastructure and wastewater treatment systems, protecting our environment and public health.  I congratulate the towns of Lancaster, Colebrook, and Northumberland on receiving these grants and loans, which will help them complete important projects and will benefit their residents for years to come.

Thanks for staying engaged and for everything you do to make the Granite State a unique place to live!