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
(Washington, DC) – This evening, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 299, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019. Congresswoman Kuster is an original co-sponsor of the legislation, which would expand veterans benefits for 90,000 Navy veterans who served in the coastal waters of Vietnam and are impacted by toxic exposure as a result of their service. Kuster helped introduce the bill in January.
(Washington, D.C.) Today, Representatives Annie Kuster (NH-02) and Peter King (NY-02) introduced their legislation to award a Congressional Gold Medal to the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops. The legislation would provide the covert unit, known as the Ghost Army, long-delayed recognition for its heroism during World War II.
**Kuster bills to Redesignate Saint Gaudens & bolster environmental protections signed into law**
**Energy and Commerce Committee clears Kuster legislation to protect individuals with pre-existing conditions**
Our First 100 Days
Washington, D.C. – Today Congressman Chris Pappas (NH-01) introduced the PFAS Registry Act with a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers including Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), Rep. Annie Kuster (NH-02), and Rep. Antonio Delgado (NY-19), legislation that would create a national database for service members and veterans experiencing health problems possibly due to contamination from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
(Washington, DC) – Today, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) joined Representatives Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Penn.), Scott Tipton (R-Colo.), Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), Joe Cunningham (D-S.C.), Brendan Boyle (D-Penn.) and Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) to introduce the Keeping Our Promises Act, a bill that would add nine medical conditions recognized by the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) as having evidence of exposure to certain herbicides used by the Armed Forces during the Vietnam War.
Protecting Access to Healthcare
(Washington, DC) - Today, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02), a member of the bipartisan PFAS Task Force, joined Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05) and House and Senate colleagues to introduce the Veterans Exposed to Toxic PFAS Act (VET PFAS Act). The legislation will help veterans and families exposed to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) at military installations obtain the health care services and benefits they need through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Stepping Up to Reduce Carbon Pollution
(Washington, DC) – Today The Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report on the failure of the Department of Veterans Affairs to properly administer GI Bill benefits to veterans. The report found that the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) “failed to modify their electronic systems” and that, “VA lacked an accountable official to oversee the project during most of the effort.