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 – Today, Rep. Annie Kuster (D-NH) testified before the House Veterans Affairs Committee at the committee’s Members’ Day Hearing to advocate for legislation to help veterans with invisible wounds heal and increase support for survivors of military sexual assault.
Safe, Affordable Housing for Veterans
Congresswoman Kuster Touring Boulder Point on August 19th
A high resolution version of this photo is available here.
Expanding Access to Quality Healthcare
Hooksett, NH – Yesterday, Representatives Chris Pappas (NH-01) and Annie Kuster (NH-02) held a roundtable discussion with representatives from the Manchester VA, state of New Hampshire, health care providers, spouse survivors of suicide and local veterans to discuss ways to strengthen health care services related to suicide. The purpose of the event was to garner greater understanding and collaborate to realize opportunities to collectively prevent suicide among servicemembers and Veterans.
Supporting Substance Misuse Treatment and Recovery
We Must Act to Reduce Gun Violence