June 09, 2020

Chairman Takano Speaks with Military Officers Association of America to Discuss National Guard and Reserve Parity, VA’s Response to the Pandemic

Press Contact

Jenni Geurink (202-819-4684)

Miguel R. Salazar

 

RIVERSIDE, CA — Last week, House Committee of Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mark Takano (D-Calif.) spoke with Lieutenant General Dana T. Atkins, President of the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), about VA's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, how the restructuring of DoD’s medical treatment facilities has impacted MOAA members, as well as how Representative Mike Levin's Guard and Reserve GI Bill Parity Act (H.R. 5870) can help achieve parity for members of the National Guard and Reserves. See the full conversation with Lieutenant General Atkins here

 

mt - moaa 

Watch the full conversation here

“First off, thank you to MOAA and all of your members, said Chairman Takano. “It does not seem fair that reservists and members of the National Guard have been sent out to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in various ways, but they’re one day short of being able to qualify for certain GI bill benefits. That’s wrong. And my sense is that Mr. Levin’s bill, the Reserve and Guard Parity Act, is garnering some bipartisan agreement, and I think even the administration has decided to take a second look at that 89 days. I also want you to know I’m committed to making sure that we continually upgrade the quality and experience of VA healthcare, so it’s at par if not better than what's offered in the private sector. The Committee on Veterans' Affairs and Armed Services Committee are going to have to take a closer look at how TRICARE and medical treatment facilities can better respond to the needs of veterans in the midst of a pandemic too. Thank you for joining me and highlighting your veterans' concerns."

"Two years ago, MOAA invested in technology that allowed us to transition seamlessly to the telework environment, and luckily we have an online reporting tool, so we get active feedback from our veteran population on their experience,” said Lieutenant General Dana T. Atkins. “I think that the biggest concern that I hear really is in the medical healthcare arena. With the ongoing effort from DoD and Defense Health Agency to modify the military treatment facilities so they’re just kind of walk in day clinics, the access is gone. Now you have forced that beneficiary population to go out on the community and get community care versus through a military health care system. The dilemma here is are those communities ready to absorb this patient population? The other issue that comes up again and again is the earned benefit piece of the COVID-19 response. I know that there’s some Congressional action right now so that individuals that do deploy in the COVID-19 response, Guard and Reserve, do get their earned benefits. Thank you for your leadership and for the Committee's role in supporting our veterans and their families."

For more information about the Committee’s efforts to address the COVID-19 crisis and resources available for veterans, please visit: https://veterans.house.gov/covid-19.

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