Fighting for Our Military Veterans and Service Members
Our military service members and veterans deserve the highest respect and honor. Taking care of our brothers and sisters in uniform who have selflessly served our country must be a priority for Congress and for our country. As a soldier and veteran, Tulsi takes seriously the responsibility of giving voice to the concerns of our post-9/11 veterans, and veterans from conflicts past. In her first year in Congress, Tulsi passed the very first bill she introduced, the Helping Heroes Fly Act, with unanimous support. This law ensures our disabled and severely wounded warriors receive dignified treatment and privacy while going through what could sometimes be painful or embarrassing airport security checkpoints.
Combating Sexual Assault in the Military
Tulsi has worked hard to combat the serious epidemic of military sexual assault in our ranks. In her first year in Congress, Tulsi introduced the Military Justice Improvement Act (MJIA). This bipartisan bill aims to increase transparency and restore the faith of military sexual assault survivors by removing decision-making from the chain of command, and empowering experienced military trial counsel to determine whether to take a case to a special or general court-martial proceeding.
Passing Legislation to Address the VA Healthcare Crisis
In 2014, our country's failure to fulfill its promise to our veterans was starkly exposed. At the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), veterans faced wait times of 90 days or more to see a doctor. Hawaiʻi veterans experienced the worst wait times in the country, averaging 145 days—almost five months—for a simple primary care visit. Tulsi introduced a bill called the Access to Care and Treatment (ACT) Now for Veterans Act to allow veterans not being served by the VA to get the immediate care they need from non-VA medical providers. Provisions from the bill were ultimately included in the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act that became law at the end of 2014.
Tulsi has also introduced legislation to hold VA officials responsible for ensuring our nation's veterans get the care and services they need and are not rewarded for their malpractice. Even after the VA scandal in 2014, veteran wait times have increased. The Veterans Administration Bonus Elimination Act will help to better ensure timely delivery of care to our military veterans.
Launching the Bipartisan Post 9/11 Veterans Caucus
At the start of the 114th Congress, Tulsi launched the bipartisan Congressional Post 9/11 Veterans Caucus to provide a forum for the more than 2.8 million men and women who have returned home since 9/11. The caucus is made up of members of Congress who share the experience of this newest generation of veterans, and is focused on ensuring that the unique concerns of post-9/11 veterans are addressed and that their ideas and potential are realized. Together, the caucus has worked to pass legislation like the Clay Hunt SAV Act to help our returning service members get access to quality mental health care. Tulsi has introduced legislation like the bipartisan Veterans Entry to Apprenticeship Act to help returning veterans transition to the civilian workforce by enabling them to use their GI Bill benefits for apprenticeship programs in the skilled-trade industry.
Honoring Filipino Veterans
Tulsi's bipartisan legislation to honor Filipino Veterans of World War II with the Congressional Gold Medal Act was signed in to law on December 14, 2016. The bill recognizes the service and sacrifice of the more than 200,000 Filipino Veterans who fought under the American flag during World War II.
Fighting to Protect Military Children from Child Abuse
Over the past decade, there have been over 29,000 cases of child abuse and neglect in military homes. Tulsi introduced Talia’s Law, named for Talia Williams, a five year old who was beaten to death by her father, a Soldier who was stationed in Hawai’i at the time. Talia’s Law aims to prevent child abuse and neglect on military bases by mandating training and requiring members of the Armed Forces and civilians working in military institutions to immediately report suspected cases of abuse to State Child Protective Services. Talia’s Law was signed into law under the FY17 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on December 23, 2016.
More on Fighting for Our Military Veterans and Service Members
Honolulu, HI—This morning at the Punchbowl National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) and Kauaʻi Mayor Bernard Carvalho delivered remarks to honor Filipino and Filipino-American veterans in commemoration of the 75th Ara Ng Kagitingan—The Day of Valor. In her remarks, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a twice-deployed Major with the Hawaiʻi Army National Guard, shared the following:
Washington, DC—Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today released the names and photos of her nominations to the U.S. Military Service Academies for classes entering Summer 2017. After an exhaustive application and interview process, she nominated twenty-two students from across Hawaii’s Second Congressional District. Their applications are now being considered for final selection by the United States Military Academy at West Point, the United States Naval Academy, and the United States Air Force Academy.
Legislation introduced by U.S. Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) and Mike Bost (R-Ill.) to help remedy “the growing problem” of Veterans Affairs medical centers operating for extended periods without a permanent director passed unanimously in the House on Friday, Gabbard’s office said.
“The mission of the VA is to take care of our veterans, and to do so, they need strong, accountable leaders who are committed to that mission,” Gabbard said in a news release. “In Hawaii and many other states, veterans have gone without a permanent VA health center director for more than a year.”
Washington, DC—Bipartisan legislation introduced by Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) and Mike Bost (IL-12) to address the growing problem of VA medical centers operating without permanent directors unanimously passed the House today as an amendment to VA reform legislation. The bill now moves to the Senate for further consideration.
Washington, DC—Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) released the following statement after voting in favor of the annual Defense Appropriations bill, which passed today by a vote of 371-48: