Since joining Congress I have fought to make sure that our veterans are treated with the respect and dignity they deserve. Our men and women in uniform have sacrificed a great deal for us. All have given years of their lives. Others have suffered grave physical and emotional injuries. We have an obligation to provide them with the resources and services they need after their active duty has ended.
Voting to send our sons and daughters into harm’s way is the most serious issue we face as Members of Congress. We should take just as seriously efforts to fully fund the services our veterans need when they return.
I have co-sponsored more than 150 bills related to veterans’ issues ranging from improved health care benefits, health record keeping and housing assistance to equipment upgrades. I have worked to secure additional funding for body armor and upgraded Humvees. I have also supported the expansion of the G.I bill to help veterans resume their educations. The post World War II GI bill revolutionized higher education in the United States, bringing opportunity to unprecedented numbers of students whose parents had not themselves attended college. It is one of our most successful federal programs and it must be preserved.
I worked with other Members of the Massachusetts’ Congressional Delegation to protect local health care facilities when the Veterans’ Administration was consolidating locations. I fought to protect the VA Medical Center in Jamaica Plain, the Causeway Street Community Based Outpatient Clinic in downtown Boston and outpatient clinics in Dorchester.
More and more veterans are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. The health services we are providing must give veterans access to the mental health care that they might need. If we are going to put our troops in harm’s way, then it becomes our responsibility to care for them when they return home.
It is important to recognize that veterans’ families are also making sacrifices and they deserve our support as well. That is why I co-sponsored legislation extending the Post 9/11 GI Bill. The law extends education benefits to more veterans and allows them to transfer those benefits to their families. It also includes education benefits for the children of every soldier who has fallen in the line of duty since September 11, 2001. In December 2010 Congress extended the Post-9/11 GI Bill with passage of the “Post-9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Improvements Act of 2010”.
In addition to legislation offering practical help to veterans, I had the honor of commemorating the service of one of our own local fallen heroes. My bill, H.R. 5877, named the Post Office at 655 Centre Street in Jamaica Plain after Lance Corporal Alexander Scott Arredondo. We were reminded of his sacrifice when this heroic family was recently honored once again. His father, Carlos Arrendondo and Jeff Bauman, the man whose life he saved after the Boston Marathon bombing, sat with the First Lady during the 2014 State of the Union address.
I will continue to make support for our veterans and their families a priority.