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
On the 12th Anniversary of the Iraq War, 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
The United States is indebted to the service, bravery, and perseverance of our Filipino veterans of World War II. 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, whos sacrifices were left untold and unrecognized in the United States for decades.
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
Louisville, KY–Yesterday, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) received the Charles Dick Medal of Merit from the National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS). The award was presented at the 139th General Conference & Exhibition in Louisville, KY in recognition of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s distinguished legislative contributions to the National Guard.
Yesterday morning on Oʻahu, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard spoke at the change of command ceremony aboard the USS Hopper, where Commander Jeff Tamulevich assumed command from Commander JD Gainey. The congresswoman thanked Commander Gainey for his service in command during on a 180-day deployment to the Arabian Gulf, western Pacific, and Indian Ocean that concluded in February. The ship is scheduled to deploy again in three weeks out of Pearl Harbor.
"Each year, the people of the Aloha State are proud to participate in the Vacations for Warriors program that provides an opportunity for our heroes and their families to enjoy a brief respite from the challenges of their daily lives. This year, we welcomed US Army Sergeant Joshua Revak, US Army Corporal Tyler Wilson, and their families to the beautiful Garden Island. Both Sergeant Revak and Corporal Wilson have gone beyond the call of duty, deploying to combat, putting their life on the line to serve our country.
Honolulu, HI—This morning, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard joined wounded warriors, Gold Star families, and Hawaiʻi’s veteran community in paddling in the 2017 Na Koa Wounded Warrior Canoe Regatta off the shores of Fort DeRussy. First launched in 2009, the annual regatta assists recovering troops through the healing power of Hawaiʻi’s waters, and has grown to include an annual veterans job fair and scholarship program for Gold Star families as part of the event.
Honolulu, HI—Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02), co-chair of the Post 9/11 Veterans Caucus, released the statement below after legislation she helped introduce to improve and extend GI Bill education benefits for veterans, their surviving spouses and dependents was signed into law today.