The best way to honor our nation’s veterans is to keep the promises we made to them. Our country is deeply indebted to its veterans, who have fought with courage and valor to protect the world from tyranny and to defend the freedoms that Americans hold so dearly. Since being elected to Congress in 1992, I have fought to provide veterans with the health benefits they earned.
The men and women who put their lives on the line for our country did so with the understanding that we would take care of them in their time of need, and Congress has a moral obligation to improve the military health system. Providing quality care and services to our veterans is one of my top priorities. On the battlefield, the military pledges to leave no soldier behind. And with this national investment, we will begin to fulfill our pledge that when they return home, we leave no veteran behind.
If you would like more information on how to receive veterans’ benefits, please visit our Veterans Resources page athttp://green.house.gov/resources/veterans or contact our office at (281) 999-5879. Our office also hosts an annual Veterans Forum that features an informative discussion on veterans’ legislation and program updates. Various service-related organizations also present information about veterans support services.
The Veterans Administration (VA) operates the largest direct health care delivery system in the country, providing care at over 800 locations to about 5.5 million veterans. Since 1995, the Defense Department and the VA have coordinated their medical care in the program known as TRICARE. TRICARE provides beneficiaries with the opportunity of choosing a health maintenance organization (HMO) option, a preferred provider option (PPO), or a fee-for-service option.
I am strongly committed to ensuring that all our military retirees get the health coverage they have earned. Congress has a responsibility to ensure that TRICARE remains an effective and successful health care program for the members of our Armed Forces, retired service members, and their families. I am adamantly opposed to efforts by the Defense Department to increase fees and co-pays for TRICARE beneficiaries. We must address our nation’s growing deficit, but it cannot be done by cutting services earned by our veterans and their loved ones. That is why I have consistently supported legislation that would prevent the Defense Department from unilaterally increasing fees and co-pays without Congress’ approval.
One of the biggest issues confronting our veterans today is the VA disabilities claims backlog. Texas, with 1.6 million veterans, is home to the nation’s second highest number of veterans. Our state has also experienced one of the largest backlogs in the country. Nationwide, the backlog numbers nearly 73,888 down from 500,000 in 2010.
There are four main reasons for the backlog:
- Increasing Demand: Roughly 2 million American military personnel had been deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan or both since 9/11. Of that total, 1.4 million have since left the military.
- Increasing Reporting: The number of claims from returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are higher than previous wars. Due to medical advancements and numerous deployments, returning veterans are coming home with a higher rate of multiple service connected wounds.
- Paper claims: Lack of technological tools to assist in the process. In 2012, the VA was still relying on hard copy files to process a veteran’s claim. The lack of paperless filings and a reliance on snail mail can cause delays in the claims process anywhere from weeks to months.
- Agent Orange/Other Presumptive Conditions: In recent years, the number of veterans whose service-related injuries qualify for care under the VA has grown, this is particularly true for Vietnam-era veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange.
The VA’s response to the backlog has been the “Transformation Plan,” with the goal of processing all claims 125 days or older with 98 percent quality effectiveness in 2015 and to eliminate the backlog. Other changes the VA has instituted include digitizing the claims process, making overtime mandatory for all VA claims raters until the backlog is closed, and issuing provisional decision on the oldest claims in the inventory. I will continue to closely monitor this issue.
After the revelation of the VA data manipulation scandal in 2014, Congress passed H.R. 3230, the Veterans Access to Care Act which I voted for and the President passed into law. H.R. 3230 included an additional $17 billion in funding for the VA, expanded access to healthcare outside the VA for those who waited longer than 30 days to receive treatment and funding for a new research facility that will be based in Houston. The bill also allows the Secretary of the VA to fire any employees who acted inappropriately in the treatment of our veterans. While this bill was not perfect, it represents a bipartisan first step to addressing the health care crisis our nation’s veterans have been facing for far too long. I am committed to resolving these issues, reforming the VA and ensuring our nation’s veterans have the care they have earned and deserve.
If you have any questions or are experiencing problems with an ongoing VA claim, please visit my Help with a Federal Agency page.
More on Veterans
Congressman Gene Green invites veterans to his annual Veterans Forum on Saturday, May 20. During the forum, Congressman Green will discuss new and current federal policies affecting veterans, and local groups and agencies will be available to answer questions about benefits and services.
WHAT: Rep. Gene Green's Veterans Forum
WHEN: Saturday, May 20, 2017
10:00 - 11:00 a.m.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congressman Gene Green (TX-29) released the following statement today after the 115th Congress convened:
“It’s an honor to represent Houstonians and our City in the 115th Congress. In Washington and at home I am constantly working so that our constituents’ voices are represented and so that our region has the policies and resources in place needed for it to be successful and prosperous.
WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Congressman Gene Green (TX-29) announced that he would co-sponsor the Veterans Education Recovery and Restoration Act (H.R. 3991), legislation that would address the significant consequences faced by student veterans enrolled at institutions that close abruptly. The legislation would reinstate GI Bill education assistance benefits to student veterans and continue housing allowance payments through the current semester to keep student veterans from becoming homeless while they decide on their next steps.
In conjunction with Freeway Manor Civic Club
In conjunction with Belmar/Northline Civic Club
In conjunction with Meadow Creek Civic Club
In conjunction with High Meadows North Civic Club
Join Congressman Green for Town Hall meeting to discuss policies and issues important to the District.