America has a special covenant with veterans, with the men and women who wear and have worn the uniform, who put their lives on hold, who fight and, above all, who sacrifice on our behalf. I will never stop fighting to keep that covenant and to ensure that our veterans receive the health care and benefits they’ve earned in service. It is simply unacceptable for our veterans to be waiting weeks for doctors’ appointments, to face employment discrimination, or to wade through bureaucratic red tape for answers.
Last year, I voted to pass the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act, which was signed into law in August 2014.
The Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act
Improves Access to Care: creates a $10 billion Veteran’s Choice Fund for veterans to seek care in their local communities if they live more than 40 miles from a VA facility or if they cannot get a VA appointment within 30 days. Watch the video below to learn more:
Strengthens the VA: provides $5 billion to increase veterans’ access to care by hiring physicians and other medical staff and by improving physical infrastructure. The Portland VA announced in January 2015 that it would use some of this money to hire nearly 200 additional medical personnel over the next two years.
The new law also empowers the VA Secretary to transfer or fire senior executives for poor performance or misconduct. It guarantees that employees have a basic right to an appeal and ensures that such appeals will be considered within 21 days.
Supports Veterans & Their Families: requires public colleges and universities to offer in-state tuition rates to all veterans or lose eligibility to receive payments under the G.I. Bill.
The new law also extends the VA Health Professionals Education Debt Reduction Program through 2019 and increases the cap on debt reduction payments from $60,000 to $120,000 per person. Raising this cap brings this program in line with other government programs and allows VA facilities in Oregon to offer more incentives to attract high quality providers.
Ron's recent support for veterans
- The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act, signed into law in February 2015, is designed to improve a range of suicide prevention services for veterans, including access to information and counseling and better training for mental health professionals. The bill also requires annual independent audits of mental health and suicide prevention programs managed by the Department of Veterans Affairs and mechanisms for promoting better collaboration between the VA and non-profit mental health organizations, among other requirements.
- The Veterans Access to Community Care Act (S. 207), which would require the VA to offer outside care to veterans who live more than 40 miles from a VA facility that offers the services they need.
- The Retired Pay Restoration Act (S. 271), a bill to permit retired members of the military who have a service-connected disability between 0-40% to receive both their military retired pay and full disability compensation.
- The Gold Star Fathers Act (S. 136), which would extend a hiring preference now provided to surviving single mothers of servicememebers killed or totally disabled in action to surviving single fathers.
- The Charlie Morgan Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act (S. 270), a bill to update federal law so that legally married same-sex veterans and their spouses may receive the benefits they’ve earned in service regardless of where they live.
Sen. Wyden meets Roger Mockford, a World War II veteran, at a Veterans Day ceremony at Reynolds High School.
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