Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster

Representing the 2nd District of New Hampshire
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Advocating for Improvements in Veterans' Health Care

Mar 3, 2014
Catching up with Annie

Hi All!

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend.  I spent last week fighting for our nation’s veterans and discussing immigration reform with business leaders in Nashua.  

Pushing for Progress in Veterans’ Health Care

Last Wednesday, I participated in a House Veterans’ Affairs Health Subcommittee hearing to advocate on behalf of New Hampshire veterans.  The hearing was held to address efforts to fix deficiencies in VA care, and featured testimony from the VA’s Under Secretary of Health Robert Petzel.  During the hearing, I asked for a progress update on how the VA is working to address delays in modernizing its medical technology.  Earlier this year, I visited one of New Hampshire’s leading medical device companies, Gamma Medica, and heard from the company about the nearly two-year delays the VA was experiencing in procuring early detection breast cancer screening devices.  During my visit to the company, I learned about how these devices can help provide crucial preventative screening for veterans.  At the hearing, I stressed the need for ensuring veterans have access to this kind of potentially life-saving technology.

Our nation’s veterans rely on the VA to provide them with the high-quality health care services they deserve after courageously serving to protect our nation.  It is unacceptable that the VA is experiencing up to two-year delays in procuring modern technology, like devices to measure tissue density and provide early detection of breast cancer.  I was pleased to hear during the hearing that the VA has recognized this issue and is working to fix these delays, and I will continue to monitor their progress very closely moving forward.

Discussing Comprehensive Immigration Reform in Nashua

Last Monday, I convened a roundtable discussion about how modernizing the immigration system can bolster America’s innovation economy.  During the roundtable, I met with Nashua business leaders to discuss the need for an immigration system that attracts highly skilled workers from around the world, and the importance of allowing foreign-born students educated in the USA to grow businesses and create jobs here in America instead of taking their businesses abroad. 

I am committed to providing America’s students and next generation of workers with the skills they need to compete and win in the 21st Century job market, and will continue working to expand investments in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education programs.

Conveying NH Veterans’ Concerns to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki

On Thursday, I held a breakfast meeting with Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki to share with him the most pressing concerns of New Hampshire veterans.  As a member of the U.S. House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I have traveled throughout the second district to hear from the veteran community and am committed to advocating on their behalf in Washington.  New Hampshire’s veterans made great personal sacrifices to serve and protect this nation, and we must ensure they always have access to the support and care they rightfully deserve.  I shared with Secretary Shinseki the concerns I’ve heard from veterans in my district, many of whom have faced unbelievable obstacles in receiving high-quality care from the VA. No veteran should ever go without the care they need, and I urged the Secretary to immediately address their concerns.

The topics I urged Secretary Shinseki to consider included: the need to improve access to health care services for rural veterans by implementing expanded contract services and tele-health medicine; the importance of eliminating the backlog in claims at the VA and coordinating with the Department of Defense on electronic treatment records; support for better workforce and education training programs to help veterans transition to civilian life and land well-paying jobs; and questions about what the VA is doing to better screen and provide effective treatment for survivors of military sexual trauma.  I also discussed a bill I introduced last year with Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (IN-02) to provide travel benefits for survivors of military sexual trauma seeking specialized treatment at VA facilities.

I was encouraged by Secretary Shinseki’s update on the VA’s work to eliminate its backlog in claims.  In particular, the Secretary informed me that there has been a 35 percent drop last year in claims backlog since the VA began to work towards receiving automated electronic treatment records directly from the Department of Defense.  However, the number of claims that remain trapped in the process is still unacceptable, and I urged the Secretary to continue to make modernizing the VA’s system a number one priority.  

Helping Granite Staters

In November, 2013, I was contacted by a New Hampshire veteran about the significant difficulties she was facing in receiving her veterans benefits.  Robin Partello served five years in the Air National Guard and was on active duty between October 5, 2001 and September 30, 2003 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.  Since April of last year she had tried unsuccessfully to obtain her medical benefits.  She was repeatedly denied despite clearly qualifying for coverage.  She even met with VA staff members who were concerned but unable to help.  My office worked with the VA to get her evaluated financially and medically and in December, she was approved and obtained her benefits.  If my office may ever be of assistance with a problem you are facing, please contact my staff at 603-226-1002 so we may help you resolve your problem or get you the information you need. 

Have a fantastic week and thanks for everything you do to make New Hampshire such a great place to live!