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
Washington, DC—Bipartisan legislation supported by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) to improve access to mental healthcare for veterans unanimously passed the House of Representatives today. H.R.918, the Veteran Urgent Access to Mental Healthcare Act, would provide initial mental health assessments and mental healthcare to veterans with an other-than-honorable discharge who have deployed and served in combat zones. Generally, individuals who have such discharges are not eligible for any veteran benefits.
"Our nation’s heroes gain knowledge and experience during their time in the service that sets them up for success as they transition into civilian life. Yet many veterans continue to face barriers to entry into apprenticeship programs because they lack pre-apprenticeship training.
"When our veterans return to civilian life, their mission of service doesn’t end. They leverage the knowledge, skills, and experience gained during their service to build success in their local communities as entrepreneurs and small business owners. Across the country, veterans own 2.5 million businesses, employing over 5 million people and creating over $1 trillion in revenue. As we observe #VeteransDay, I urge my colleagues to pass H.R.
"Nearly 345,000 women have served under the American flag in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet, when they return home, they face a country and a VA that is ill-equipped to meet their needs. Female veterans have lower rates of access to the VA and receive lower quality of care, despite facing higher rates of PTSD, military sexual assault, and exposure to trauma, unemployment, and homelessness. Our veterans put their lives on the line for our country, and we have a responsibility to care for them when they return home. As we observe #VeteransDay, we must take action.