March 11, 2020

Chairman Takano: “With the support the American Legion, we can fulfill the promises we’ve made to our veterans. ”

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mark Takano (CA-41) delivered opening remarks before the joint hearing of the House and Senate Committees on Veterans’ Affairs entitled “Joint Hearing of Senate and House Committees on Veterans' Affairs: Legislative Presentation of The American Legion .”A link to the video Chairman Takano’s opening statement and remarks as prepared can be found below.

 

 3/11/20

Full video of the Chairman’s remarks.

 

Chairman Takano’s remarks as prepared:

 

Thank you Chairman Moran, it is an honor to be here for the last, but certainly not the least, joint House and Senate Veteran Service Organization hearing of the year.

 

I would like to welcome all the American Legion members and auxiliary members who have joined us today.  I look forward to your testimony.

 

Before we get started, I would like to recognize all our members from my home state of California. Will all our Californians please stand or raise their hand. Welcome!

 

Reading today’s testimony, it is clear that we share many of the same priorities. We must address the national crisis of veteran suicide. Veterans must receive high-quality healthcare. We must understand the full impacts of toxic exposures, and make sure that another generation of veterans don’t have to wait for the benefits and care they need and deserve. In addition, as our veteran population grows increasingly more diverse--we must support our women, LGBTQ, minority, and Native-American veterans. The legislation we pass must improve access to culturally competent care for ALL veterans

 

As Chairman, I have made reducing veteran suicide my number one priority. It is our job to create sound, well researched policy, and not simply perpetuate approaches that aren’t proven to prevent suicide—and we take that responsibility very seriously.

 

Our approach to suicide prevention takes into account multiple factors that could reduce veteran suicide -- everything from lowering the economic burdens on veterans, to increasing access to care and improving crisis intervention for those at higher risk.

 

One critical step towards addressing veteran suicide is to expand access to emergency mental healthcare for veterans in crisis. That is why I introduced H.R. 5697, the Veterans’ ACCESS Act. This legislation would ensure ALL veterans, regardless of their discharge status or eligibility for other VA healthcare benefits, have access to the emergency mental healthcare they need. I look forward to working with the American Legion to pass this bill and save veterans’ lives.

 

We also have a duty to ensure this administration recognizes the impact of toxic exposure during military service, and that VA takes action before it’s too late. Our veterans shouldn’t have to wait 40 years for VA to recognize that a veteran is suffering from past exposure in order to get the benefits they earned.

 

For example, I am urging the administration to add four diseases to the Department’s presumption list that we know to be linked to Agent Orange exposure. This will ensure many more veterans can access crucial VA disability and healthcare benefits.

 

I know that with the support and insight of the American Legion we can continue to hold the administration accountable and work to fulfill the promises we’ve made to our veterans.

 

I look forward to hearing your testimony and thank you for all the work you have done in service of veterans and their families.

 

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