Working for Local Veterans

August 7, 2018
Making Government Work for You

Our veterans deserve respect, dignity, and the opportunity to achieve their dreams. They answered the call to serve our country, and we have a responsibility to honor that service and ensure they have access to the benefits they have earned and deserve. I want to be your voice, whether it is helping you fight for your benefits, or advocating in Congress to fix the VA.

Helping veterans in the 36th Congressional District:

  • Since 2013, my office has helped over 750 local veterans get more than $3 million in benefits from the VA that were either caught up in bureaucratic red tape or improperly withheld.
  • I launched Veterans University in 2016, a community effort to educate veterans, family, and friends about the benefits available to veterans and how to navigate the complicated claims process. Since 2016, Veterans University has served more than 1,000 local veterans.
  • This year, I brought together local transportation agencies and veteran advocates to launch the Veteran Transportation Initiative, a collaborative that is working to realize our vision that no veteran goes without a ride to their medical appointment.
  • In 2016, I helped bring one of 80 mobile vet centers to the Coachella Valley and Hemet area to provide mental health a various services directly to our local veterans.

Recent bills I have introduced:

  1. H.R. 1844, the Veterans Access to Community Care Act of 2017
    1. This bipartisan bill would allow our veterans to receive the care they need at a facility that is both convenient and capable of providing them with the required services.
  1. H.R. 1622, the Wounded Veterans Recreation Act
    1. This legislation will provide a lifetime National Recreational Pass for any veteran with a service-connected disability.
  1. H.R. 1618, the Support Our Services (S.O.S.) to Veterans Caregivers Act
    1. Currently, only seriously injured veterans and their caregivers are able to benefit from caregiver assistance programs, leaving out thousands of seriously ill veterans.
      1. This bill will extend the assistance program to family caregivers taking care of veterans that developed serious illnesses during or as a result of their service. 

I am proud to have authored the following bills that were signed into law:

  1. Two Amendments to H.R. 5515, the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act
    1. The amendments would require the Department of Defense to conduct a feasibility study on phasing out the use of open burn pits and carry out an annual education campaign to inform servicemembers exposed to burn pits about their eligibility to enroll in the burn pits registry. Signed into law on 08/13/2018.
  1. H.R. 732the Veterans Access to Speedy Review Act
    1. This bill guarantees veterans the option of video conferencing for hearings before the Board of Veterans' Appeals to expedite the adjudication of claims and eliminate substantial travel costs to the veteran and the administration. Signed into law on 12/16/2016.
  1. H.R. 2691the Veterans' Survivors Claims Processing Automation Act of 2015
    1. This bill makes the process for paying survivors' benefits automatic, allowing widows to grieve without worrying about applying for benefits. Signed into law on 12/16/2016.
  1. H.R. 4150, the Department of Veterans Affairs Emergency Medical Staffing Recruitment and Retention Act
    1. This bill aligns emergency department staffing practices at VA Medical Centers with the private sector. Signed into law on 12/16/2016.

I was honored to vote for and see the following veterans bills pass the House recently:

  1. H.R. 5895, Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act, 2019
    1. This bill funds the VA at the highest level in history and includes $206 million to combat the tragic rates of suicide among our veterans. The bill also includes legislation to establish a research team at the VA to identify all the negative health impacts of exposure to burn pits and develop new treatments for those exposed. At President’s desk to be signed into law.
  2. H.R. 299, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2017 – This bill will restore the presumption of Agent Orange exposure to U.S. veterans who served in the bays, harbors, and territorial seas of Vietnam.
  1. S. 585, the Dr. Chris Kirkpatrick Whistleblower Protection Act – This bill increases protections for VA employees who are retaliated against for whistleblowing by calling for increased and immediate suspension of retaliating supervisors; agency-wide training on retaliation complaints; informing employees of their rights and remedies; and providing information on mental health services available to VA employees.
  1. H.R. 3218, the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act – This bill will eliminate the 15-year time limit to use GI benefits.