By Rep. Evan Jenkins
As your voice in Congress, I hear frequently from veterans in need of help cutting through red tape and navigating the Veterans Affairs system. One veteran had been waiting 12 years to receive a service-related disability designation. After my office worked with the VA, this West Virginia veteran received his disability designation – and the much-needed financial assistance – he had earned long ago.
That’s just one example of how I’m fighting for our veterans in Congress. I am also working to pass legislation to hold the VA accountable, fund critically important healthcare programs, and help veterans individually with their cases.
Keeping our promise also means holding the VA accountable. I’m committed to fighting back against any misconduct by the VA while supporting the great men and women who deliver world-class care to our veterans. The Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill included critical funding for the VA inspector general to act as a watchdog to make sure our veterans are receiving the top-quality care they deserve. The bill also contains funding I pushed for to address the backlog of claims at the VA. We must make sure Washington bureaucrats are not stopping our veterans from getting the services and care they fought for and deserve.
Accessibility to quality, timely health care for veterans is one of my top priorities, and this includes access to hospitals and community clinics. The Greenbrier Community-Based Outpatient Clinic cares for veterans in six counties, but at the beginning of last year it was unclear if the CBOC would remain open. The uncertain future for this CBOC put the care of thousands of veterans in jeopardy, and I fought back. I worked closely with the VA, including meeting with VA Secretary Robert McDonald, to ensure the Greenbrier CBOC would reopen and provide care to nearly 2,400 veterans in Greenbrier County and the surrounding region.
The issues our rural veterans face in obtaining care can’t be ignored. I have fought to increase funding for the VA’s Office of Rural Health, ensuring the transportation and other issues rural veterans encounter are fully addressed. It also includes opening new clinics in rural parts of West Virginia, like the veterans center that opened last summer in Princeton.
In Congress, I serve on the House Appropriations Committee, which oversees funding for every federal department and agency. Through my role on that committee, I have fought successfully to secure full funding for VA medical services. That includes more than $7 billion for mental health services.
I also serve as a liaison between veterans and the federal government, helping veterans cut through red tape to access the services they need and deserve. Many times older veterans or their families come to one of my district offices anxious, frazzled, or frustrated because they can’t get an issue resolved.
My caseworkers and I can help navigate many obstacles veterans face. Many have difficulties getting reimbursed for travel expenses to doctors outside the VA medical system, and I have been able to get these expenses reimbursed for them. Many veterans are older and need wheelchairs or motorized chairs, and I have been able to help secure these much-needed items for veterans to improve their mobility and quality of life.
If you are a veteran needing assistance with your benefits or having problems with obtaining health care, I want to help you. Please visit my website at http://evanjenkins.house.gov to email me, or contact one of my three offices. In Huntington, my office is located at 845 Fifth Ave. Suite 152, and can be reached at (304) 522-2201. In Beckley, my office is located at 223 Prince St. and can be reached at (304) 250-6177. In Washington, my office is located at 502 Cannon House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510 and can be reached at (202) 225-3452.
I will continue to support legislation to help our veterans secure good-paying jobs and access to a world-class VA healthcare system. We owe these men and women an enormous debt of gratitude for their service, and fulfilling our promises is the best way we can thank them for keeping our nation safe and free.