On Monday, we observed Veterans Day. I was honored to join members of our community at Bill Barber Memorial Park to honor our troops, past and present. Our servicemembers put their lives on the line to keep us safe. It is our solemn duty to make sure we take care of them and their families when they complete their service to our country.
I was proud to join a Veterans Day ceremony in Bill Barber Memorial Park to honor our men and women in uniform, both past and present. I spoke to Lieutenant Colonel Caleb Hyatt about how Irvine residents support the Marines he commands of the 2nd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment.
In Washington, I am committed to making sure the way we spend taxpayer dollars is consistent with our values. In the spending bills that passed the House, I fought to include additional funds for reducing veteran homelessness and providing resources for veterans in crisis. My amendment would increase resources going toward HUD-VASH, a program providing assistance for homeless veterans. I am proud it passed the House with bipartisan support. I also worked across the aisle to support the Veterans Crisis Line, to make sure our veterans can call for help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and speak with a trained individual. I helped secure additional funding to support the Fisher House Foundation, which offers free lodging to the families of patients receiving care at VA and military medical centers. The Foundation allows servicemembers or veteran families to remain together during these difficult times without worrying about cost.
Using my expertise as a consumer advocate, I secured several measures in the House-passed version of the national defense bill to protect our servicemembers and their families. One of my amendments would require an investigation into retaliation against military families that report issues in private housing. Another protection would crack down on predatory payday lenders taking advantage of our troops, veterans, and surviving spouses. I also worked with my colleagues to make sure that Gold Star and military spouses will be able to terminate leases for homes and cars of military members who suffer a severe injury or illness or pass away while serving our country. I’ll keep pushing to have these measures included in the version of the bill signed into law.
I’m also working to make sure that our veterans can access the benefits they have earned. That’s why I was proud to partner with my colleague, Rep. Mike Levin, to introduce the Veteran Service Equity Act. This bill will recognize those working at non-political Veterans Service Organizations the same way we recognize others in public service careers and make them eligible for the student loan forgiveness program. Helping veterans understand and claim the benefits they’re owed is a public service, and we should treat it that way.
The work of supporting our veterans doesn’t just happen in it also takes place at home in our communities. In May, I became the first freshman Member of Congress to visit the Veterans Affairs (VA) Long Beach Healthcare System. Most Orange County veterans have to travel to Long Beach to receive VA care, so I wanted to see firsthand what services they’re getting there. I’ve also toured the Veterans Resource Center at Irvine Valley College and the Goodwill of Orange County’s Tierney Center for Veteran Services, which connect our veterans to the resources they need to succeed in civilian life.
I spoke with veterans at the Long Beach VA, including this resident of the 45th District.
If you or a veteran you know needs help with a federal agency, including the VA, our Orange County office will try to assist in getting answers. Over the summer, our office received a request from Scott, a veteran and member of our community, who needed help getting the medals he had earned during his Army service. I wrote to the Army Human Resources Command, and we were able to get Scott his Korean Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with three Bronze Stars, and Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal.
I had the honor of presenting Scott with his medals following a successful inquiry on his behalf.
This fall, we also welcomed Gage as our Veteran & Servicemember Liaison Outreach Specialist. He works out of our Orange County office, and he helps veterans like Scott and military personnel get the care and services they deserve. I filmed a video with Gage to introduce him, which you can watch online here.
As Americans, we owe our men and women in uniform a debt of gratitude for their tireless work to keep us safe. As your Representative in Congress, I will continue to honor their sacrifice by working hard for our servicemembers and their families.
Very truly yours,
Representative Katie Porter
Member of Congress