By Kyle Lovern
November 13, 2013
Matewan, W.Va. – On Veterans Day, U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va) Monday lauded West Virginia veterans for their courage and sacrifice and vowed to keep fighting to protect veterans’ benefits and services during ongoing budget debates in Washington. Rahall today is speaking at Veterans Day events in Matewan and Kimball.
“In my words and actions, I strive to uphold my own Constitutional oath and ensure a proper functioning government that fulfills its obligation to our veterans and their families.
“I continue to seek ways to address the disgraceful backlog of disability claims and ensure that our veterans’ benefits are not needlessly held up in a lengthy bureaucratic process. Most recently, the House passed legislation that I fought for to authorize veterans’ benefits for each component of a claim while it is being adjudicated. That way, veterans do not have to wait for their entire claim to be resolved before receiving a benefit.
“As well, I continue to press the VA to reassess the health care needs of the veterans in underserved areas of our State and urge additional resources for the VA Medical Centers in Beckley and Huntington, as well as for the outpatient facilities in our southern counties.
“To increase post-military employment opportunities for veterans, I worked successfully to pass in the House the Troop Talent Act. It will help ensure educational assistance and better match veterans’ military training with the skills required for civilian certifications and licenses in high-growth industries.
“For the veterans of the Guard and Reserve, whose VA claims are denied at four times the rate of their active duty counterparts, my bill, the Guard and Reserve Equal Access to Health Act, requires a separation physical be offered to any member of the Guard and Reserve who desires one – ensuring a vital record for determining service-connected disability.
“Upholding our promises to our veterans means voting for a robust veterans budget. I was appalled by the actions of a partisan minority during the recent government shutdown and the anxiety their actions caused our State’s veterans and their families who count on the timely delivery of benefits and services. Incidentally, the Members who engineered the shutdown are the same ones determined to mindlessly slash any and all Federal programs in sight, without regard to their value and importance to veterans.
“I repeatedly voted to end the shutdown and against cuts in veterans’ services and benefits. I have urged the House to schedule a vote on the Putting Veterans Funding First Act, to ensure a government shutdown does not again interfere with the continuation of essential veterans’ programs.
“I fully intend to continue to use my seniority, my experience, and the many bipartisan relationships I have built over many years to continue protecting veterans’ benefits and services.
“This Veterans Day, let us remember that government exists to serve the people. The government of the people, by the people, and for the people has a responsibility, under God, to make good on its commitment to those who put themselves in harm’s way for the rest of us. Too much blood has been spilled to do anything less.”