Chairman Takano: “Our veterans are our country’s greatest ambassadors”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mark Takano (CA-41) released the following statement after leading the Committee’s Congressional Delegation to Hawaii, Guam, the Philippines, and the Northern Mariana Islands:
“For too long, veterans throughout US territories and the Pacific have been overlooked. Not only are these islands strategically important for our defense capabilities, but they have some of the highest rates of military participation in our country. 1 out of every 7 people in Oceania have served in the Military, and in the Philippines, 10 percent of the expatriate population are veterans.
“Our veterans are our country’s greatest ambassadors although some may now live in a territory or another country. Serving in our military means you believe in our country. We must make sure these veterans have the resources, care, and benefits they have earned no matter where they live.
“Over the past 10 days, my colleagues and I heard stories of frustration.
“In Saipan, we heard about their veteran homelessness crisis and the limited workforce available to help rebuild. Veterans in Manila told us about glitches when receiving their benefits that took money out of their checks. We saw facilities in Guam that are simply too small to meet the needs of the veterans in the area, despite a dedicated VA team on the ground.
“But in Honolulu, we also saw a joint VA/DoD facility that gives us tremendous hope for the future. By combining forces, this facility is dramatically more prepared to meet the needs of both veterans and active duty servicemembers on the island. I’m eager to see how we can use this facility as a model in other underserved areas.
“Additionally as the Committee has been focused on ensuring our veterans are prepared in case of natural disaster, our own trip to Northern Marianas and American Samoa was sidelined by a typhoon—a storm that developed rapidly over just 24 hours. While facilities are now up and running, it’s clear we still have work to do to ensure veterans in the territories will be taken care of when these storms pass through.
“By taking the time to listen to veterans in the territories and hear their stories, we can come back to Washington with their stories on our minds. I am determined to make sure we never forget about these veterans.”
Jenni Geurink (202-225-9756)
Miguel R. Salazar
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