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Advocating for Eastern Washington Veterans



Not a day goes by when I don’t hear from veterans in our community who are struggling – struggling to access quality care, and struggling with a bureaucratic system that continues to fail them. That is unacceptable. We should be honoring the men and women who have dutifully served our country, not making them feel like a burden.

That’s why I am working in Congress to advocate for veterans across Eastern Washington – veterans like Pearl Harbor survivor Bud Garvin, who celebrated his 100th birthday this year. An American hero, Bud invaded Omaha Beach on D-Day, and he fought in the Battle of the Bulge – a battle that resulted in over 90,000 troops being killed, captured, injured or missing in action. A member of the Greatest Generation, Bud so nobly kept America safe, and as I sat with him in his living room in Spokane, I was reminded what a tremendous honor it is to speak for veterans like Bud in Congress.

As a part of those efforts, this month I supported the Long-Term Care Veteran Choice Act, which helps Eastern Washington veterans access quality care, including access to medical foster homes. It puts the needs of those who have served first – because the wellbeing of veterans must always be the priority. 

In July, Congress passed the bipartisan Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act to improve transparency at the VA and provide veterans like Bud the choice to access health care outside the VA. Unfortunately, many veterans in our community are still unable to access the care they need because of the VA’s flawed interpretation of the law. That’s why I recently co-sponsored the Veterans Access to Community Care Act of 2015, legislation that will help veterans from Colville to Walla Walla access care. By clarifying the 40-mile rule to mean 40 miles of driving rather than a point-to-point radius, it will make sure more Eastern Washington veterans can utilize the Choice Card program and get the care they need.

Last week I was honored to celebrate the establishment of the Stevens County Veterans Court and the leaders – including the Stevens County Commissioners – who brought it from idea to reality. My team and I meet regularly with the Veterans Advisory Committee, which brings together many services to help Eastern Washington veterans. I was also touched by the people who run the VA Mobile Clinic, a 21st-century health care clinic on wheels who are veterans themselves. I was glad to visit the bus when I was in Pullman, where it was delivering care on Washington State University’s campus for the first time.

While there is still much work to be done, I am moved by our local heroes who have dedicated their lives to helping veterans in our community. One of the highlights of my job is meeting with people who are making a real difference – and I know firsthand that Eastern Washington is in no short supply of them.

I will continue to celebrate Eastern Washington veterans like Bud, and I will continue to advocate for them in Congress. Together, we must continue to hold the VA accountable in order to create a 21st-century agency that prioritizes the safety and well-being of the brave men and women who have served our nation so honorably.

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