The men and women who serve our country deserve our support — both on and off the battlefield. To honor our country’s veterans, current active duty and civilian service members, for the past 20 years the President of the United States has issued a proclamation to declare May “National Military Appreciation Month.” This important recognition gives us another opportunity to say “thank you” to those who fought to keep us free.
As your representative in congress I’m committed to advocating for the nearly 700,000 veterans and 65,000 civilian personnel and active duty service members that call our state home.
That’s why during a recent committee markup of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs funding bill, I offered an amendment in support of TRICARE, the program covering more than 9 million Americans including service members, veterans and their families.
It’s important to ensure that no cuts are made to this program.
The Committee agreed with me, and we passed the amendment with broad bipartisan support.
Veterans, service members and their families can also receive care through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which provides comprehensive healthcare and benefits. But in addition to medical care and benefits, the VA also provides key job training, career support and a 24/7 hotline for veterans to help with all types of issues and concerns.
You can check out some of the key updates about these programs and services at the VA, below:
VET TEC Act
Recently, the VA launched a pilot program created by the Veteran Employment Through Technology Education Courses Act, bipartisan legislation I was proud to support, that was signed into law in 2017.
The VET TEC Act authorizes the VA to contract with technology education program providers to offer non-traditional courses that empower and equip our veterans with training that can be utilized in post-military careers.
The high demand training areas include:
♦ Computer software,
♦ Information science,
♦ Computer programming,
♦ Media application, and
♦ Data processing.
If you are interested, you can apply online here: https://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/
VA Video Connect
To better connect veterans with their care providers, the VA partnered with T-Mobile last year to allow veterans opportunities to speak with their VA doctors using a “VA Video Connect” application that is Android, iOS, and Windows compatible. This application allows veterans to conveniently talk to their doctors from anywhere and reduces long travel times for those who may live in rural areas.
The application can be downloaded at https://mobile.va.gov/app/va-video-connect.
As part of the administration’s efforts to reform the VA, the White House created a VA hotline, where more than 60 live agents answer calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year. Many of these agents are military family members, veterans, caregivers or survivors who have completed training on VA programs and services.
The hotline seeks to not only help those calling, but also gauges trends in order to identify and correct systemic inefficiencies at the VA. While over half the calls are general inquiries, calls that are deemed casework are immediately referred to the VA’s Office on Client Relations. If you would like to connect with an agent, please call 855-948-2311 or visit https://www.va.gov/ve/whvahotline.asp.
Vet Success on Campus
You may also be interested to hear that in conjunction with disability compensation, education and training compensation, the VA provides the VetSuccess on Campus program to veterans, servicemembers, and their qualified dependents, who are transitioning from their military careers to college. VSOC aids in completion of their education and helps them prepare for the job market. The program, housed under Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment, supports 104 schools across the country and has a Georgia location at Kennesaw State University.
Our current and former military members have made sacrifices for us, and they deserve the best care our nation can offer.
To learn more about the many benefits the VA provides or to see if you qualify, more information may be found here: https://explore.va.gov/.
You can also contact my office with additional ideas and issues of concern through my website (https://tomgraves.house.gov/) or by calling one of our three offices located in Dalton, Rome and Washington, D.C.