Serving Those Who Have Served Our Nation

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090424-N-3271W-016 VAN METER, Iowa (April 24, 2009) Over 500 veteran motorcycle riders who escorted the unclaimed remains of seven Iowa veterans to their final resting place at the Iowa Veterans Cemetery line the procession route with American flags. The ceremony coincided with weeklong events of Des Moines Navy Week, one of 22 Navy Weeks planned across America in 2009. Navy Weeks are designed to show Americans the investment they have made in their Navy and increase awareness in cities that do not have a significant Navy presence. (U.S. Navy photo by Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Gary Ward/Released)

Serving our Veterans should be a commonsense goal for each and every one of our public officials. Our Veterans have served and sacrificed for our Nation—their care and our Nation’s highest respect for them should be unquestioned priorities for all those in government at all levels.

This is particularly true for those who work for the Veteran’s Administration, most especially its top official, Secretary Robert McDonald.

Recently, Secretary McDonald has rightfully come under fire for his comments in which he compares our Veterans’ wait times at the VA to waiting in line for a ride at an amusement park. Plainly stated, this is absolutely unacceptable and should be insulting to all Americans.

Attitude and work ethic start at the top of any organization. That is why it is especially infuriating to hear Secretary McDonald’s comments. I find it deplorable for the head of the VA, the primary government institution that is supposed to be providing care for our Veterans, to make such a thoughtless comment.

This is certainly not to say that there aren’t hardworking individuals at the VA who are committed to serving our Veterans the best they can. That is certainly true. I have visited several of the VA facilities in our 2nd District, such as the Lewiston Vet Center, where countless employees work tirelessly and are devoted to their mission of serving our Veterans. But we cannot lose sight of the fact that, on a whole, our Veterans are surely not getting the care and treatment they have earned and deserve.

I have met with hundreds of our Veterans across Maine and heard from them personally about long wait times and substandard care at the VA. This is not an issue that should be taken lightly by anyone, most especially the VA’s top official.

Congress is doing its part to make the VA more efficient and more accountable to serving our heroes. I am a proud cosponsor of the Faster Care for Veterans Act of 2016, a bipartisan bill to provide our Veterans in Maine with options to more easily schedule appointments with VA clinics and help reduce long wait times by introducing the choice to make appointments online. I am proud to support this commonsense legislation to reduce the wait times and improve the access to care for our Veterans.

I am proud to stand up for our Veterans in Congress—they have unquestionably earned it—and I will continue to hold VA officials accountable and push for our Veterans’ clinics and facilities to provide our heroes with the support they deserve.

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