Conference Report on H.R. 3230, Pay Our Guard and Reserve Actby Representative David P. Roe
Posted on 2014-07-30
ROE of Tennessee. Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to stand before
this body in support of the conference report, the first major step in
providing timely, high-quality health care to the veterans who so
selflessly served this great Nation. As a physician, veteran, and
member of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, it was an honor to have
served on the conference committee.
Mr. Speaker, a corrosive culture has been allowed to exist within the Veterans Affairs bureaucracy for far too long and to the detriment of our veterans. The most important thing this bill does is give the veterans who are experiencing long wait times or live more than 40 miles from the nearest VA facility a choice. These veterans will now be able to obtain a veterans choice card, which will allow them to seek care in the private sector. Only by forcing the VA to compete will we achieve the cultural change that is required in how they serve veterans.
I have met with many physicians in recent weeks, and the desire to help our veterans is stronger than ever. Hospitals and physicians, alike, are ready and willing to care for veterans, helping to address a crisis created by VA mismanagement.
Moving forward, this report creates a process by which we can make significant strides toward accountability, by giving the VA Secretary the ability to fire senior employees who fail to do their jobs and ensuring that there will be swift, harsh penalties for knowingly misreporting or falsifying information.
This agreement will also improve educational benefits for veterans and their dependents.
As the founder and cochair of the House Invisible Wounds Caucus along with my friend Tim Walz, I am pleased this report includes a provision to extend an important pilot program intended to help veterans with traumatic brain injuries for 3 more years.
The negotiations were tough, but I know the final product will have a very positive impact on the lives of our veterans, and I would like to thank the House and Senate VA committee staffs for all their late nights and hard work they put into this toward this worthy goal.
Mr. Speaker, I applaud the chairmen, Miller and Sanders, for their leadership throughout this process, along with Ranking Member Michaud and Senator Burr.
I urge all of my colleagues to support this report.
Mr. MICHAUD. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentlewoman from Arizona (Mrs. Kirkpatrick).