John is committed to ensuring that our nation’s veterans receive the medical care, benefits, and other services that they have earned in exchange for their dedicated service to our country.
Strengthening Support for Our Troops and Veterans
Recently, Congress passed the largest increase in funding for veterans health care in the history of the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA). The law provides almost $109 billion in funds that will improve claims processing and provide enhanced medical care for veterans, including nearly $4.6 billion in funding for mental health care. Importantly, $1.1 billion has been allocated for VA facility improvements.
Expanding the CBOC Program
Throughout his time in Congress, John has worked tirelessly with the VA to establish Community Based Outreach Clinics (CBOC) in the 6th Congressional District so no local veterans had to travel more than 15 miles to get the care they deserve. In fact, during John’s first term in office, one of the first two CBOC sites in Massachusetts was established in Lynn.
Protecting the Bedford VA Hospital
When the Bush Administration tried on several occasions to close and/or consolidate the services available at the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital in Bedford, MA John worked with caregivers, veterans and service groups, family members of patients and the community to overturn the Bush Administration’s efforts and protect this important facility.
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), made essential investments aimed at rebuilding our economy and creating jobs. The ARRA included several important initiatives for our veterans and their families. Among the funds included in this law were $1.3 billion for much needed renovations and energy efficiency projects at the 153 VA medical facilities and $50 million for memorial and monument repairs at the nation's veterans’ cemeteries.
The law also implements a $2,400 tax credit for businesses that hire unemployed veterans, and establishes so-called "warrior transition complexes" to provide support for soldiers returning home from battle, and for their families.
Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act
To provide critical assistance to address the needs of our veterans and their families during recovery and rehabilitation from severe injuries, Congress recently passed the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act. The law provides support services to family and other caregivers of veterans, including counseling and mental health services, caregiver training and a stipend and health care for those caregivers living with severely wounded Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. Furthermore, the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act will provide enhanced health services to 1.8 female veterans, including, for the first time, care for newborns.
Post 9/11 GI Bill
John was a strong supporter of the G.I. Bill for the 21st Century which provides full, four-year college scholarships to honorably discharged service members with at least 90 days of active duty service on or after September 11, 2001. The educational benefits are comparable to those available to service members after World War II.
The law provides up to the highest in-state tuition at a public education institution in the state where the school is located, a monthly housing allowance at the location of the school and will ensure that veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are part of the American economic recovery.
The first hearing John held as Chairman of the National Security and Foreign Affairs Subcommittee helped bring to light the severe mismanagement of treatment for active duty service members and veterans at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Subsequent investigation by the Subcommittee resulted in the dismissal of responsible officers and an Army Secretary and passage of the Wounded Warrior Act addressing the shortfalls in facilities and treatment evidenced in Washington Post articles. The Subcommittee has periodically held additional hearings to continue oversight.
Veterans Advisory Board
John established a Veterans Advisory Board (VAB) in 2008 to help identify key legislative initiatives and improve services for veterans and their families. The board is made up of veterans, local veteran's agents and representatives from veterans service organizations. It meets regularly to discuss issues of importance and holds events throughout the district regarding services available to veterans, active military and their families.