By Senator Marco Rubio
The Tampa Tribune
November 11, 2014
On this Veterans Day, we give thanks to all the brave men and women who have served our nation in uniform, as well as their families who have sacrificed so much.
We also remember their fallen brothers and sisters in arms, including Matthew J. LaCourse, a retired lieutenant colonel flying out of Florida’s Tyndall Air Force Base who died last week in an F-16 crash. The United States is a special place because so many courageous people like him have defended our country and our interests abroad.
This past year has been a trying one for veterans across the country, in large part because they were victimized by unspeakable scandals at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
The good news is that despite having a dysfunctional U.S. Senate, we were able to pass a law making significant reforms to the VA.
The bad news is that it took a crisis to create a sense of urgency to actually do something.
As we look forward to the next two years under Republican majorities in both the House and Senate, we need to work with a consistent sense of urgency to get things for our veterans.
This is especially true when it comes to making sure their medical needs are met with timely, high-quality and dignified health care.
For example, we must ensure that the VA reform law passed this year is properly implemented. Among its many reforms was one I championed with House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller, a Florida Republican, empowering the VA secretary to discipline and fire incompetent managers. This is a power for the administration to hold senior officials accountable, and Congress must make sure that it is properly used.
We also need to make sure that the Veterans Choice Cards authorized in the law are issued to eligible veterans by year’s end so they have the freedom to find more timely health care. The law also included measures to fix the ongoing problem of excessive delays in processing veterans’ claims and appeals, so we must ensure that the resources are being delivered to achieve this goal.
I’m also hopeful that several noncontroversial, bipartisan military and veterans proposals that never saw the light of the day in the recent Washington dysfunction will be properly debated, passed and ultimately sent to the president’s desk.
Keep reading here.