Veterans and Military Service
“America must not shortchange the brave men and women who have served in our armed forces. I am deeply committed to ensuring that our nation’s veterans and their families are cared for in a way that honors their service to our country. Just as the military pledges to leave no soldier behind on the battlefield, I do not intend to leave any veteran behind when they return home.”
SUMMARY OF STANCE
We owe the brave men and women who serve in our armed forces more gratitude than we can express. When our veterans return home we have an obligation to make sure they receive the quality care they need in a timely, efficient manner. I am committed to working to build an even stronger Veterans Health Administration (VHA) that cuts down on wait times in order to connect veterans as quickly as possible with the skilled, specialized physicians they need. As a part of my role as a Member of Congress I will continue to work to ensure the transition from service to civilian life when our veterans return home is as successful as possible.
RELATED LEGISLATION AND ACTIONS
Introducing legislation is just one action that a member of Congress can take to address a concern or issue that impacts constituents. House Members can also introduce Congressional resolutions calling on the House (or even the full Congress) as a body to recognize or support a certain event or position on an issue. Members can write letters to government leaders requesting they take certain action, hold hearings with expert panels to address issues, work with colleagues at the committee level on specific issues, or even make direct in-person appeals to other Members or officials in the government. Here are a few examples of how I have taken action on this issue.
National Guard Repayments
Congress has an obligation to do right by our CalGuard veterans who bravely stood in harm’s way for our nation, and that is an obligation I take very seriously. I cosponsored H.R.6377, the “National Guard Repayment and Financial Relief Act,” which would stop the Army from recouping funds from members of the Army National Guard who, in good faith, received bonuses and education benefits that they were not eligible to receive from January 1, 2004 to December 31, 2010. The bill also says that for those soldiers who have already repaid the Army, the Army will be directed to pay the soldier back, including any interest the service member paid.
Long Beach VA Medical Center Renamed After Holocaust Survivor and SoCal War Hero Tibor Rubin
Tibor Rubin, a holocaust survivor and Medal of Honor recipient, was a long-time resident of Garden Grove, California who received services from the Long Beach VA Medical Center. Mr. Rubin passed away on December 5, 2015. I introduced legislation to rename the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Long Beach, California, as the Tibor Rubin VA Medical Center in honor of this local hero. The bill passed the House and Senate and was signed into law by President Obama in December of 2016. In 2017, I proudly attended a ceremony with hundreds of veterans and community residents at the hospital to celebrate Tibor and the renaming.
Education for Veterans
As a former college professor, I am a strong supporter of education at all levels. A college education can help our veterans in returning to civilian life when they come home. I believe that access to higher education for our veterans, including student loan programs and educational grants, should be easily attainable and widely promoted.
That is why I cosponsored H.R.1251, the “Veteran Excellence Through Education Act,” which authorizes the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to create funding opportunities for minority-serving institutions to address the social and academic problems facing veterans who pursue a college education. The funding would be used for financial literacy workshops, health and wellness programs, support services for housing and child care, and services that help veterans enter the workforce. More recently, I cosponsored H.R.3991, the “Veterans Education and Recovery Act” to help student veterans facing the closure of ITT Educational Service, Inc and H.R.5593, the “Protecting Veterans Credit Act” to ensure veterans do not incur unnecessary and inappropriate penalties on their credit report due to delays in the Veterans Choice Program.
Health Care and Mental Health Services for Veterans
In order to help our veterans with health care and mental health services, I cosponsored H.R. 1492, which would establish a Commission on America and its Veterans in order to ensure that the healthcare needs of our veterans are met; and H.R. 806, the “Veterans Healthcare Improvement Act,” which would ensure adequate funding for veterans' healthcare programs. In 2016, I cosponsored H.R.4640, the “Veteran Suicide Prevention Act”, which would require the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to conduct a review of veteran suicide deaths over the past five years.
Ending the Veterans Claims Backlog
I remain dedicated to reducing the VA claims backlog and finding work and training opportunities so that veterans can provide for themselves and their families, and be prepared for the jobs of the future. Our nation can never fully repay the debt of gratitude we owe to the courageous men and women who have worn our nation’s uniform, but we can guarantee them the best possible resources they deserve.
I cosponsored H.R.2894, the “Caregivers Access and Responsible Expansion (CARE) for All Veterans Act,” which would both expand the caregiver support program to all service-era veterans and their caregivers as well as diminish the need and cost of more expensive institutional care.
CAUCUSES OR MEMBERSHIPS RELATED TO ISSUE
Veterans Jobs Caucus
The Congressional Veterans Jobs Caucus works to decrease the unemployment rate of the nation’s veterans who are currently looking for work. Unemployment is one of the biggest problems currently facing America’s veterans. Members of the Caucus raise awareness among private businesses small and large to make a personal and public commitment to hiring veterans by displaying the “I Hire Veterans” logo — the Caucus’ outreach and awareness initiative — in their businesses or offices.
USO Congressional Caucus
The United Service Organizations (USO) Caucus unifies Congressional leaders to strengthen the bridge that supports the nation's troops and extends the universal commitment of the nation to the millions of men and women in uniform and their families when they need it most.
For more information concerning my work and views on veterans, please contact me.
More on Veterans and Military Service
Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) today announced that legislation he cosponsored to ensure members of the United States Coast Guard – our nation's fifth military service – receive paychecks, in the event of a federal government shutdown, was approved during a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (T&I) markup.
The U.S. House of Representative today passed legislation introduced by Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) to rename the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Long Beach, California, as the Tibor Rubin VA Medical Center in honor of Holocaust survivor and Medal of Honor recipient Tibor Rubin.
Congressman Alan Lowenthal today issued the following statement on the announcement by Secretary of Defense Ash Carter that repayments from California National Guard members would cease being collected:
"I am relieved that Secretary of Defense Carter has suspended all efforts to collect reimbursements from affected California National Guard members.
To commemorate the 41st anniversary of the Fall of Saigon and the end of the Vietnam War, Congressman Alan Lowenthal today raised the flag of the Republic of Vietnam, recognized by states and localities across the country as the Vietnamese Freedom and Heritage Flag, outside his Congressional offices in Long Beach, California, and Washington, D.C. The Congressman will keep the Vietnamese Freedom and Heritage Flag flying, next to the United States and California flags, throughout the April 27-May 2 Black April week of commemorations.
Congressman Alan Lowenthal proudly invites students, parents, counselors, and school officials from the 47th District to attend a Service Academy Night on Friday, June 5, 2015 for 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
The June 5 event will be held in the Theater at Cypress High School, located at 9801 Valley View Street in Cypress. Representatives from the Military, Naval, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Merchant Marine service academies.
There are four service academies in the United States that require a nomination from an authorized nominating source.
The funding was included in Congress's $1.1 trillion fiscal year 2015 funding package as part of a request by the Congressman. The House on Thursday and the Senate on Saturday passed the funding package, which now awaits an expected signature from President Obama.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – A legislative amendment authored by Congressman Alan Lowenthal that would direct an additional $5 million to a critical national STEM education program passed the House of Representatives June 20 as part of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act by a vote of 340 to 73.
The amendment allocates funds for the STARBASE Youth Program, which provides Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education to underserved students nationwide.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Alan Lowenthal on Friday released the following statement in response to the resignation of U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki:
"Secretary Shinseki has served our nation proudly and heroically for more than four decades, both in the field as a soldier and from his leadership role at the VA.