Military & Veterans News
Loebsack Welcomes Quad Cities Honor Flight to Washington PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Joe Hand   
Friday, 30 May 2014 11:40

Veterans from WWII and Korean Wars view monuments built in their honor

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Dave Loebsack today welcomed the Quad Cities Honor Flight to the National World War II Memorial on the National Mall in Washington. Loebsack presented the members of the Honor Flight with copies of the Congressional Record statement he submitted in recognition of their service, as well as a pocket Constitution. The Quad Cities Honor Flight brings World War II and Korean War veterans to Washington to visit our nation’s capital and Memorials built in their honor.

“I look forward to welcoming each Honor Flight to our nation’s capital so they can see the memorials that were built in their honor. Being able to welcome these veterans today was especially meaningful,” said Loebsack. “We cannot thank these veterans enough for their service to our nation. I was honored to present them with a copy of the statement I made for the official Congressional Record to recognize their service, as well as a pocket Constitution.”  

The Honor Flights are all fully paid for, and the veterans are typically accompanied by volunteers who donate their time to ensure that the veterans have a safe trip. This group included 92 veterans. The Quad Cities Honor Flight left from the Quad Cities Airport this morning and will return tonight.

Loebsack is an avid supporter of our veterans. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, he has worked to improve care and benefits for our servicemembers and veterans, including expanding Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits for the National Guard; expanding access to mental health care; helping our veterans find civilian jobs; and opening new Community Based Outpatient Clinics to improve access to VA services for Iowa veterans. He also co-introduced bipartisan legislation to eliminate the waiting period for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits for servicemembers wounded in combat.

 
Lt. Governor Simon-backed military education reform overwhelmingly passes Illinois General Assembly PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Annie Thompson   
Friday, 30 May 2014 08:49
Measure to assist military students heads to governor’s desk
SPRINGFIELD – May 29, 2014. Lt. Governor Sheila Simon today applauded the Illinois General Assembly for passing legislation crafted by her office to ease the transitions of military students moving in and out of Illinois schools. House Bill 3939 sponsored by Sen. Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) and Rep. Eddie Lee Jackson (D-East St. Louis) now heads to Governor Quinn for signing.
“I appreciate the legislature’s strong support of this measure that will improve educational opportunities for military students and help keep military jobs in our state,” said Simon, who chairs the state’s Interagency Military Base Support and Economic Development Committee (IMBSEDC). “I would like to thank the school administrators for their valuable input, and I commend Rep. Jackson and Sen. Bush for their work to pass this bill.  I look forward to the governor signing it into law.”
“The Metro East is home to many of our state’s military families, and I look forward to returning to my district to show military families that they have our support,” said Rep. Jackson. “Today we showed our commitment to these families that sacrifice so much.”
“I was pleased to sponsor this legislation in the Senate, and I would like to thank Lt. Governor Simon for raising this important issue,” said Sen. Bush. “It is vital that we do everything in our power to support our military families and military students, and I encourage the governor to sign HB 3939 into law quickly.”
In 2010, Illinois joined the Interstate Compact for Military Children and adopted the state’s first-ever law recognizing the unique educational challenges of military students. In the 45 other Compact states, military students enter the same grade level at their new schools, retain previously earned credit and are offered opportunities for extracurricular activities. Illinois’ law does not currently offer the same assurances.
The Simon-backed legislation brings Illinois into alignment with other Compact states, providing protections military students deserve while also preserving local control. They include:
• Grade Level: Students must be allowed to continue their enrollment at grade level in the receiving state at the time of transition; subsequent evaluation to verify placement is allowed.
• Course & Program Placement: Schools shall initially honor course and program placement for military students at the time of transition, including Advanced Placement and ESL, provided that the courses are offered and space is available; subsequent evaluation to verify placement is allowed.
• Extracurricular Activities: Schools shall facilitate the opportunity for inclusion in sports and other activities to the extent that children are qualified and space is available as determined by the school principal.
The state of Illinois is home to approximately 10,000 military students, most of whom have at least one parent on active duty at major installations in North Chicago, the Quad Cities and Metro East. They may transfer schools up to nine times between kindergarten and high school graduation, a rate three times that of their civilian peers.
Simon added that with potential federal defense spending reductions and potential base closures on the horizon, this measure positions our bases for expansions, not drastic cuts.
During a series of listening posts hosted by the Simon-chaired Interagency Military Base Support and Economic Development Committee (IMBSEDC) held last year near Scott Air Force Base, Naval Station Great Lakes and the Rock Island Arsenal, families and military leadership consistently raised the issue of improving school transition.
As chair of the IMBSEDC, Simon helps coordinate the state’s activities and communications relating to current and former military bases in Illinois. This spring, Simon has joined U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), members of Illinois’ congressional delegation and officials from the U.S. Air Force to discuss the future Scott Air Force Base in Belleville.
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In Light of VA Report, Loebsack Calls on Secretary Shinseki to Resign, Department of Justice to Investigate PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Joe Hand   
Wednesday, 28 May 2014 16:15

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Dave Loebsack today announced that he is calling on Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Eric Shinseki to immediately resign. He is also calling on Attorney General Eric Holder to begin an investigation to determine if any criminal wrongdoing occurred. Results of a preliminary report by the VA Inspector General’s Office show that the delay of care to veterans and subsequent manipulation of records is systemic throughout the VA. The report also states that the delay caused the health care of veterans to be compromised.

“The VA Inspector General’s report makes it very clear that there are scheduling problems agency-wide and not just isolated to the Phoenix health center. I have made it very clear that if these allegations were proven true that heads need to roll. I appreciate Secretary Shinseki’s prior service to our nation, but it is time for a new direction at the VA and Secretary Shinseki needs to leave for that to happen.

“As a military parent, I have been outraged by what has come to light and believe the Department of Justice needs to investigate to determine if any criminal actions took place. We owe it to our nation’s veterans to determine exactly what happened.”

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After Release of Interim Report by VA Inspector General, Braley Calls for Resignation of Secretary Shinseki PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Kirsten Hartman   
Wednesday, 28 May 2014 16:04

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) today released the following statement after the VA Office of Inspector General issued an interim report on alleged misconduct related to patient wait times and scheduling practices at the Veterans Health Administration.

"The preliminary report of the VA's Office of Inspector General has convinced me that it is time for Secretary Shinseki to resign. The safety and health of our veterans is the paramount responsibility of the VA—and the report’s damning findings include "systemic" problems with delayed medical care to veterans  and manipulation of records to hide those delays. It is now clear that the only way to restore confidence in the VA's ability to identify and eliminate these problems throughout the entire system is with new leadership.

 

“I also join House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller in calling on the Justice Department to conduct an investigation into alleged misconduct to determine if any criminal charges should be filed against those involved."

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If VA allegations are true, heads have to roll PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Vonnie Hampel   
Wednesday, 28 May 2014 08:27

“This past weekend we celebrated Memorial Day where we take time to remember the men and women who gave their lives defending our nation and protecting the freedoms that we all deeply cherish. As we remember our fallen service members, we must continue to fight for the men and women who are currently serving our nation, as well as redouble our efforts to provide the best care possible to those who volunteered to serve and defend our nation when they return home.

“As a parent of military children the recent events at various VA health centers across the nation have been deeply disturbing to me. I believe that the VA must do everything in their power to rectify this situation and I will work to ensure they have the resources they need to prevent anything further from harming our veterans. But let me be clear, after the investigation has been concluded, if there is any evidence of wrongdoing, heads need to roll and people at the top must be held accountable.” – Congressman Dave Loebsack

Loebsack’s Work on Behalf of Veterans

As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, Dave has worked to improve care and benefits for our service members and veterans, including expanding Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits for the National Guard; expanding access to mental health care; helping our veterans find civilian jobs; and opening new Community Based Outpatient Clinics to improve access to VA services for Iowa veterans. He also co-introduced bipartisan legislation to eliminate the waiting period for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits for service members wounded in combat.

Congressmen: 'Heads have to roll' if VA charges proven (Des Moines Register- May 23)

Tony Leys

Two Iowa congressmen expressed confidence in the state's two VA hospitals Friday, but said they're concerned about reports that veterans are still waiting weeks or months for appointments.

"When you talk to a lot of veterans, you find that while … initially getting in the system can be difficult and delayed, once they get into the system, they are very, very pleased," said Rep. Tom Latham, a Republican.

Latham and a Democratic colleague, Rep. Dave Loebsack, toured the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital on Des Moines' north side.

Both congressmen expressed anger about national reports that officials at some VA hospitals falsified reports to camouflage how long veterans were waiting to obtain medical appointments. In the most prominent example, about 40 patients reportedly died while waiting to get into the Phoenix VA hospital, where staff members allegedly faked documents to hide the problem.

"It's an absolute outrage," Latham said of the allegations. "Somebody should go to jail, as far as I'm concerned, if that's the case."

Loebsack agreed. "If these allegations prove to be correct … heads have to roll, there's no doubt about it," he said.

However, neither congressman favors immediate dismissal of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, which some critics have demanded.

President Barack Obama defended Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki Wednesday and said if there has been misconduct at the VA, it will be punished. Obama spoke after an Oval Office meeting with Shinseki and top aide Rob Nabors. (May 21) AP

"I don't know if that's going to change anything," Latham said. "If you want to have some kind of a trophy, I guess that sounds good, but I don't think it changes anything internally."

The congressmen noted that waiting lists have dogged the VA for years, despite Congress' willingness to pump billions of extra dollars into the system. "This is not a surprise, this is not a new story," Latham said. "I think the idea of secret waiting lists is new to the whole debate, but to me it's just a failure of the system."

Shinseki has ordered a review of all VA hospitals. VA officials have said 26 hospitals are being subject to especially intense investigations. They haven't identified most of the 26, although Latham told reporters that neither of the Iowa VA hospitals is among them.

Latham noted that he has sponsored legislation that would grant insurance cards to veterans, which they could use for medical care at hometown hospitals instead of at VA facilities. He said he believes such an approach, which would be voluntary, would make it easier for many veterans to gain care. But he noted that some national veterans groups have resisted the idea out of fear that it would weaken the VA.

Loebsack said he would be open to such a plan if it would help veterans.

Loebsack's district includes the Iowa City VA, which he said he has visited repeatedly. He said he asked to tour the Des Moines hospital with Latham so they could show bipartisan concerns about the situation. "I think if there's any silver lining to this, it is that we're refocusing attention on our veterans and what our veterans have done for us," he said.

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