OP ED by Luke Messer: To support our veterans, turn thanks into action
November 12, 2017
Indiana is home to nearly 550,000 veterans, and almost every Hoosier family is close to someone who has served. These veterans are our fathers, sons, mothers, daughters, teachers, neighbors and friends. In my family, we honor my Grandfather Lathery who served in the Korean War and my Grandfather Rotzein who served in World War II.
Honoring military service is a responsibility we should share as a nation – not just on Veterans Day, but every day. Even more importantly, we should turn that thanks into action.
President Trump is making good on his campaign promise to take care of our vets. He’s worked with Congress to pass major legislation improving the Department of Veterans Affairs and expanding services for military men and women.
For the first time in decades, major reforms are being implemented at the Department of Veterans Affairs, which has been plagued by poor performance and scandal.
President Trump signed legislation into law that will hold bad bureaucrats accountable, streamline the claims process and improve health care for our veterans. The VA is now reducing wait times and posting them online, offering same-day appointments, and has dramatically reduced the roll-over rate on its Veterans Crisis Line from 30 percent down to 1 percent.
The president also worked with Congress to pass bipartisan legislation that modernizes and expands the GI Bill. The new law eliminates time-based caps on education benefits, allowing veterans to use them whenever they want over their lifetime. It also provides significant increases in GI Bill funding for veterans, surviving spouses and dependents, and allows veterans to take advantage of high technology training.
The Forever GI Bill also includes legislation I authored to restore GI Bill benefits to the nearly 7,000 veterans who lost their benefits when Indiana-based ITT Technical Institute closed. Under the new law, folks like Jason Nyikos – a U.S. Navy veteran from Greenfield – who attended ITT Tech will have their GI Bill benefits restored, so they can go on to complete a degree at a different institution.
Though they weren’t widely reported, these are big wins for our veterans. But there is still more work to do.
To the men and women who defend our freedoms and shape our nation – thank you for your service. Your sacrifice is remembered each day, and we will keep working to honor our commitments to you.