Supporting Veterans, Military Families, and National Security
As a member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee for my first six years in office and as the daughter and daughter-in-law of WWII veterans, I am proud to advocate for the courageous veterans, service members, and military families who have sacrificed so much for our country. We have a fundamental responsibility to strengthen health care benefits, cut bureaucratic red tape, expand job opportunities, and properly honor the dedicated men and women who have worn the uniform of the United States.
As a nation, we have the duty to serve our nation’s veterans as well as they have served us, which is why I am taking the following actions:
Helping Veterans Access Affordable, Quality Care: As the Ranking Member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, I worked across the aisle with my colleagues on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee to advance the VA MISSION Act in June of 2018. I was one of two House Democrats to co-sponsor this legislation, which will increase the number of veterans who are able to receive care in their community through the Choice Program. The bill also includes a provision I fought for that provides special eligibility for community care to veterans in a state without a full-service VA hospital, such as New Hampshire. Support for our veterans is not a partisan issue and I’m glad my colleagues and I worked together to advance this legislation that will improve services at the VA for the men and women who have served our nation in uniform.
Helping Veterans Secure Housing and Employment: I cosponsored H.R. 4451, the Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Programs Reauthorization Act, which passed the House in May 2018. The bill extended homeless veterans programs for five years. In addition, the legislation clarified that veterans receiving supportive housing vouchers are also eligible for job training services. Under current law, veterans who receive housing vouchers are not considered homeless and thus cannot receive job training through the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program.
Ending Military Sexual Trauma and Assault: As the founder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence, I am committed to making our military safer and removing barriers that have prevented military sexual trauma survivors from coming forward and seeking justice. That’s why I fought to include a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that addresses what the military calls “collateral misconduct” –violations of military rules committed by sexual assault survivors, which are often minor offenses. Despite the comparatively inconsequential nature of offenses, collateral misconduct is “one of the most significant barriers” to service members reporting sexual assaults, according to the Department of Defense’s own policy, which has been in place since 2004. My provision requires the first ever large-scale and independent review of prosecutions and punishments that target service members who survive sexual assaults. The NDAA was signed into law by President Trump in late 2018.
Giving Veterans Access to Quality, Cost-Free Child Care: I cosponsored the Veterans’ Access to Child Care Act, which passed the House in early February 2019. This bill would expand and make permanent the VA’s Child Care Pilot Program, giving all veterans seeking mental health treatment with the VA safe, reliable, and free child care. The legislation also includes provisions from an amendment I introduced that would ensure VA accounts for any travel burdens, excessive driving or geographic challenges veterans may face in accessing these child care services.
Improving Accountability at the Department of Veterans Affairs: Veterans have faced unacceptable challenges in access to care, including here in New Hampshire. I was deeply disturbed by the 2017 reports of alleged mismanagement and poor quality of care at the Manchester VA Medical Center. Our veterans deserve much better, which is why I held a field hearing on care issues at the Manchester VA in September 2017 with my colleagues, Congressman Jack Bergman (R-MI) and Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan. I’ve also focused on advancing bipartisan legislation aimed at improving services for veterans, such as the VA Accountability First Act of 2017, which was signed into law in Summer 2017. This legislation—which includes a provision from an amendment I introduced to strengthen VA whistleblower protections—will give the Veterans Affairs Department the authority to fire, demote, or suspend employees for poor performance or misconduct using an expedited process.
More on Supporting Veterans, Military Families, and National Security
**Kuster joins hearing after GAO report requested by Kuster finds alarming rates of sexual harassment at the Department of Veterans Affairs**
**Last week, following the GAO report’s release, Rep. Kuster joined a bipartisan group of Members in calling on VA Sec. Wilkie to enact the recommendations made by GAO to address sexual harassment within the VA**
Today, the House of Representatives passed the William (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which contains multiple provisions that Rep. Annie Kuster (NH-02) helped advance, including reopening the child care facility at the Cold Regions Research & Engineering Laboratory in Hanover, investigating the causes of high unemployment rates for post-9/11 women veterans, and improving the Department of Defense’s efforts to prevent overdose deaths.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Wednesday, following the release of a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report entitled “Sexual Harassment: Inconsistent and Incomplete Policies and Information Hinder VA’s Efforts to Protect Employees,” Rep.
(Washington, DC) — U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Representatives Annie Kuster (NH-02) and Chris Pappas (NH-01) have sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper asking that he extend the New Hampshire National Guard’s authorization to assist the State’s COVID-19 response efforts. This letter supports Governor Chris Sununu’s request this week to extend this authorization through December 31st, 2020. The current authorization expires on August 21st.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen and Representatives Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas raised concerns over potential changes to how the Department of Veterans Affairs considers disability claims.
Putting Forth Solutions to Combat the Opioid Epidemic
Washington, DC – Rep. Annie Kuster (NH-02) issued the following statement on yesterday’s House passage of her legislation, the Protecting Business Opportunities for Veterans Act of 2019, which she introduced last year. This legislation would require businesses participating in the Vets First Program to verify that they are doing the required percentage of work and directs the VA to refer suspected violators to the Office of the Inspector General for investigation.
Happy 2020! As the new year gets underway, I take time to reflect on everything that’s happened in the previous year and what we’ve accomplished - and what a year 2019 was!
Honored to Represent You
Combating the Opioid Epidemic with Commonsense Solutions