By Staff Reports
(Victor Valley) – Today, Rep. Paul Cook (R – Apple Valley) voted in support of H.R. 3230 – Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014. This bill, which passed the House with wide bipartisan support, is the result of an agreement reached between the House and Senate to reform the Veterans’ Administration (VA).
This reform bill will reduce wait times, improve care, and provide accountability by fixing three important areas of the VA. First, this bill allows veterans to seek care from the private sector if they live forty miles away from a VA medical facility or have been assigned a wait time longer than thirty days. This will give veterans access to quality care within a reasonable timeframe. It will also improve the quality of care by providing rehabilitation, quality of life, and community integration services to veterans with traumatic brain injuries and will improve the delivery of care to veterans who experienced military sexual trauma.
Second, this bill will bring accountability to the VA by giving the Secretary authority to fire Senior Executive Service Employees for poor performance or misconduct. It also reduces bonuses given to VA employees by $40 million every year. Despite the multitude of serious and even deadly issues at the VA, senior executives were awarded millions in bonuses. This provision will ensure that these funds are applied to veteran care, not bureaucrats.
Finally, this bill requires public universities to guarantee veterans receive in-state tuition while using the G.I. Bill. It also provides full Post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits to spouses of service members who died in the line of duty after 9/11.
Cook said, “The VA has failed our veterans for too long, and this bill holds them accountable while providing the reforms and resources needed to care for America’s veterans. I’m thrilled to have supported a bill that takes a huge step in the right direction for our veterans. I’ll continue to work to ensure the VA never again forgets its mission to serve our nation’s heroes.”
A member of the House Veterans’ Affairs, Armed Services, and Foreign Affairs Committees, Cook served as an infantry officer and retired after 26 years as a Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps. During his time in combat, he was awarded the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts.