for Our Veterans
Paul Cook laments, “As long as I’m in office, I’ll keep fighting for
who have made tremendous sacrifices to our great nation.
my time in office, one of my top priorities has always been improving
services for our Nation’s Veterans. With
a 24-hour news cycle that thrives on controversy and negative stories, it’s
easy to miss out on some of the positive things being accomplished. My
colleagues and I have worked hard on Veterans legislation, and the President
has signed into law several of these bills, all of which will have a
significant impact on our Nation’s Veterans.
States Veterans obtain gainful employment once they leave the military is one
of Congress’s most critical responsibilities. I’ve worked to address this
issue by trying to find ways to incentivize employers to hire and retain Veterans
Earlier this year, the President signed into law a bill I authored called the
HIRE Vets Act of 2017.
legislation encourages companies to hire and retain veterans by rewarding
employers with HIRE Vets Medallions,
if they meet certain criteria. The medallions can then be used on marketing
materials so that the public can see which employers are truly living up to
their commitments to bring Veterans into the workforce.
The needs of Veterans
and the nature of higher education have changed dramatically over the past
decade. In response to these changes, Congress updated and modernized the Post-9/11 GI Bill with the Harry W.
Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017. This Bill was
overwhelmingly supported by members of both parties and veterans
organizations and was signed into law by the President last month. This
legislation greatly expands eligibility and access to GI Bill benefits. It
also gives Veterans greater flexibility for the type of education they
pursue, increasing their ability to pursue technical certifications and other
types of degrees. Included in that legislation was language from my Bill, the
Veterans Education Equity Act.
This provision fixed the way the VA determines Post-9/11 GI Bill housing
payments for Student Veterans,
which prevents some Veterans from receiving a fair housing payment. This
change ensures that our Student
Veterans are getting a fair and reasonable housing benefit so they can
afford their education.
Meanwhile, the Secretary of the VA, David Shulkin,
has been working to change the culture among employees and to streamline how
that VA operates. To assist that effort, Congress passed and the President
signed the VA Accountability and
Whistleblower Protection Act. This important legislation gives the
Secretary more flexibility to change personnel who are not performing to the
VA’s standards. Maintaining the status quo at the VA is not acceptable, and
this Bill will help Secretary Shulkin to change that. Congress also recently
passed the VA Choice Act, extending and fully funding the Choice program that
allows certain veterans to access care outside the VA and avoid long wait
We still have more work to do with regard to Veterans’ access to healthcare,
reforming the VA to make it more accountable, and improving Veteran
unemployment, but these bills show that Congress is making headway to address
This editorial was recently
published in the Yucaipa Valley News Mirror.