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Sixth District Perspectives Nov. 18

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On the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month, the guns of World War I finally fell silent, and the armistice with Germany went into effect. Out of the ashes of this day rose what was originally called Armistice Day, but since 1954 has been recognized and set aside as Veterans Day.

As we celebrated Veterans Day last week, we recognized the roughly 20 million living veterans who have served this country in both war and peace, and as a nation, we extended a hand of gratitude to all our veterans who put their lives on the line daily to protect freedom on our soil and around the globe.

As a member of Congress, advocating for our veterans and their families is a top priority. My district offices in Harrisonburg, Lynchburg, Roanoke, and Staunton help veterans with their claims with the Department of Veterans Affairs, and in Washington, I am always looking for new ways to do more to support those who have supported us.

During his second inaugural address, President Abraham Lincoln made clear, for the first time, the national obligation, “To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan.”

Since coming to Congress, I have tried to make sure that President Lincoln’s charge is followed and have remained committed to caring for Veterans and their families. Our nation’s 20 million living veterans span numerous generations.

From the World War II era to the Global War on Terror, these heroes face different challenges as they age. Veteran care is complex and generational, and with the ending of the war in Afghanistan, the needs of veterans from that era will become paramount. We must never neglect their care and continue to improve the VA system that cares for them.

My colleagues and I urged President Biden to reverse his administration’s decision that stripped Rolling to Remember of a permit to use the Pentagon’s parking lot during their Memorial Day motorcycle rally in D.C.

Rolling to Remember is an annual motorcycle demonstration to raise awareness of the critical issues facing our nation’s veterans and to demand action for the 82,000 service members missing in action, as well as raise awareness of the 20-plus veterans who die by suicide each day.

My colleagues and I brought VA Secretary McDonough’s attention to the 4.7 million veterans who live in rural communities who have decreased proximity to a VA center near them, less access to care, fewer physician practices and transportation options, and a myriad of other concerns that need to be on the top of the VA’s agenda.

While we are pleased the VA’s FY 2022 budget request includes increased funding for telehealth services and rural Veteran transportation services, improving healthcare outcomes for rural veterans must be a top priority.

I encouraged VA Secretary McDonough to expand the Accessing Telehealth through Local Area Stations (ATLAS) Program to deliver more veteran-centric telehealth to the Sixth District.

The ATLAS Program is a collaboration between the VA, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), The American Legion and Philips, a leading health technology company, to build and donate 8×8 enclosure rooms called pods to be placed on location at VFW halls and American Legion posts.

The healthcare pods offer veterans the convenience of consulting with their VA clinicians in a space closer to home as opposed to traveling to the nearest VA facility, which may be hours away. Using telehealth technology such as these pods improves access to care for veterans in underserved areas where there are limited healthcare providers.

Please know that my district offices are here to assist constituents who are having difficulties dealing with a Federal agency. If you are struggling to receive the benefits you have earned from the Veterans Benefits Administration or are having issues making
a doctor’s appointment with the Veterans Health Administration, caseworkers at one of my offices listed at the bottom of this page may be able to help.

Further, those who served often experience scenes and situations that civilians could not even begin to imagine. These experiences can often lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other emotional and mental struggles. If you are experiencing hardship, particularly following the recent withdrawal from Afghanistan, there are resources available. The Veterans Crisis Line below is confidential and can be reached 24/7.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your congressman. If my office can ever be of assistance, please contact my Washington office at (202) 225-5431.

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