*Click Here for Photos From February 2020 Visit to McGuire VA Medical Center*
Today, U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger thanked Central Virginia veterans for their service ahead of Veterans Day.
“Central Virginia has a proud record of military service, and our district is home to more than 50,000 veterans and their families. These former servicemembers have embodied the best of Virginia, consistently serving our nation and defending our people with courage, dignity, and devotion to our shared American ideals. Today, we pause to thank and celebrate everyone who has served in our armed forces.
“Additionally, today is a chance to renew our commitment to providing our veterans and their families with the strongest possible care and benefits. They had our back – now, we need to have theirs. I will continue to work at the federal level for stronger investments in mental health services, suicide prevention efforts, and job training for the men and women who have served our country.”
In addition to veteran-specific casework completed by her office, Spanberger has worked to improve services and support for Central Virginians by:
- Strengthening prevention efforts to address the crisis of veteran suicide. In September 2019, Spanberger cosponsored a bipartisan bill to improve mental health services at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and address the ongoing suicide crisis among American veterans. The Incorporating Measurements and Providing Resources for Outreach to Veterans Everywhere (IMPROVE) Well-Being for Veterans Act would enhance coordination and planning of veteran mental health services between the VA and the more than 50,000 organizations providing suicide prevention services for veterans—and the bill would develop measurement tools to track the effectiveness of these programs.
- Lowering out-of-pocket costs for Central Virginia veterans needing emergency transportation. Spanberger helped introduce bipartisan legislation that would make ambulances more affordable for many veterans by allowing the VA to reimburse them for this emergency transportation.
- Securing benefits that veteran military firefighters have earned. Informed by the story of Powhatan resident and veteran military firefighter Mike Lecik, Spanberger introduced bipartisan legislation in January 2020 to create a presumptive service connection that would allow former military firefighters – many of whom develop cancer or other chronic health issues – to access the care and benefits they have earned.
- Helping homeless veterans return to and succeed in the workforce. Spanberger requested strong funding for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program, and the House passed this provision as part of a bipartisan funding bill in June 2019. With this additional funding, more veterans would have access to job training, reintegration resources, and support for mental health issues related to their homelessness and unemployment. Spanberger also introduced the Computers for Veterans and Students Act in July 2020, to connect veterans in need with refurbished, surplus government computers.
- Passing bipartisan legislation to expand access to childcare for veterans and their families. In February 2019, Spanberger helped pass the Veterans Access to Child Care Act, which would make the VA’s childcare pilot program permanent and expand the program to offer a safe and cost-free option for childcare during VA medical appointments.
- Calling on the VA to address the needs of the growing women veteran population. In a March 2019 letter to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie, Spanberger called on the VA to prioritize measures to improve treatment of women veterans at VA healthcare facilities. Additionally, the letter urged Wilkie to take necessary steps to prevent sexual harassment at VA facilities.