I am proud to have served in the U.S. Navy alongside service women and men who put their lives on the line to defend our country and our values. Our service members deserve access to educational opportunities, employment, first-class healthcare and rehabilitation, and should not have to travel hours to reach a VA facility. In my first term, I helped to start the For Country Caucus, a group of veterans from both sides of the aisle, to advocate for our service members, veterans, and their families.
I have also helped pass fourteen bills to support our veterans which were signed into law. That includes the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act, the VA Tele-Hearing Modernization Act, and the Supporting Veterans in STEM Careers Act. I also proudly supported the Gold Star Family Tax Relief Act, the Gold Star Family Fellowship Program, and the Veterans Compensation COLA Act. In the National Defense Authorization Act of 2019, I successfully secured provisions to ensure health assessments for service members exposed to burn pits.
Women make up nearly 20 percent of our Armed Forces, but the VA has not adequately addressed the needs of the growing population of women veterans. I’ve pushed to improve VA healthcare services for women veterans, increase support for homeless women veterans with children, and expand access to child care services at the VA. One of the first amendments I passed in the House was to expand child care services at the VA for service members who have experienced military sexual trauma. I also proudly supported the Deborah Sampson Act in the House, which addresses barriers to care for women veterans.
Hearing from veterans in our community has helped me be a better advocate in Congress. I am grateful for every opportunity I have to meet with veterans in the community, at roundtable discussions, at my town halls, and when honoring their service at local events. After learning the story of a local veteran who couldn’t afford a service dog—and whose firehouse was raising money to get him one—I joined with Republicans in the House to lead the PAWS for Veterans Therapy Act. This legislation passed unanimously in the House and helps pair service dogs with veterans suffering from PTSD. Our veterans deserve access to this life-saving form of treatment and I won’t stop working to make this legislation a law.
In Congress, I have worked to make sure veterans in our community have top-notch constituent services to help navigate the federal benefit systems. We have helped veterans resolve unpaid VA medical bills, obtain service records, and access benefits they earned through their service.