Veterans Affairs

My family has a proud history of selfless service to secure our nation’s liberty. My father, Robert Lewis, volunteered to serve in the US Army after Pearl Harbor. He was awarded the Bronze Star in the Pacific for his service. My uncle Eddie landed at Normandy and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. My nephew followed their footsteps and volunteered to deploy to Afghanistan in 2010 as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.


Robert Lewis, 33rd Infantry Division

 

We owe our military personnel and veterans an eternal debt of gratitude, but we owe them far more. Our service men and women make tremendous sacrifices for our security, and in return, we must ensure that we fulfill the promises our country has made to them. This means easing their return to civilian life and finding real solutions to address the problems many veterans face from depression and unemployment to homelessness and suicide. We need to do a better job supporting them because no veteran should be left behind.

As a Congressperson, I pledge to:

  • Make the VA work for those who rely on it– I will never support efforts to privatize the VA.It’s time to look at the substantive reforms necessary to enhance and modernize veteran care in the 21st century. It is a moral failing of the highest order that thousands of Veterans pass away before receiving care, and we must institute real reform.. Short term reforms include increasing veterans’ ability to immediately access VA resources. Long term reforms will include the VA’s accountability to all veterans outside of political concerns.
  • Support initiatives to help veterans transition back to civilian life.
  • Support veteran and military education benefits. The GI Bill has been a vehicle for success of transitioning veterans. I will defend the Post-9/11 GI Bill against any cuts. I will also stand against predatory for-profit institutions that exploit veterans for their benefits and leave them without meaningful career prospects.
  • Improve services for women veterans.Every year more women join military service, but our nation is failing to adequately care for them. I’ll help women veterans get access to the care and benefits they’ve earned.
  • Combat suicide among troops and veterans. Every veteran deserves access to quality mental health, plain and simple.
    • I am committed to ensuring Congress fully implements the Clay Hunt SAV Act. This includes providing access to mental health care, annual evaluation of VA mental health and suicide-prevention programs, and a program to repay the loan debt of students in psychiatry to recruit them to work at the VA.
    • I support continued successful public-private partnerships in mental health, ensuring veterans have access to immediate quality care. These partnerships will be evaluated annually and held to the same high standards we have for the VA and DoD.
  • Support those who support veterans.There is already too little support provided to the military caregivers who play a critical role in the health and well-being of our veterans. I support increased funding for training programs and support groups so that caregivers have all the resources they need to look after our nation’s veterans.
  • Support veteran entrepreneurs and small business owners. Nearly half of World War II veterans became entrepreneurs. In 2016 only 12% of veterans were self-employed, despite more than double that amount expressing interest in starting a business. We need to better support the Small Business Administration so all veterans wishing to start businesses get the resources they need, including access to capital, training and mentorship programs.
  • Address the mounting cancer/chronic illness rates being caused by burn pits and other toxic exposure. In Iraq and Afghanistan, burn pits were commonly used to dispose of military waste. Our armed forces also face issues such as contaminated water supplies, handling old artillery and PCB exposure. With an ever increasing number of veterans reporting cancer and debilitating disease we cannot allow this to become another “Agent Orange.” I’ll work to bring attention to these neglected areas and fight to get the resources to adequately treat toxin related illnesses and identify and stop what is causing them.