Congressman Hunter's Memorial Day Newsletter

May 29, 2018

On a day in which we honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, I would like to extend my appreciation for my brothers and sisters in arms who have perished while protecting others.  It is with sincere gratitude and respect that we take the opportunity today to honor those who were taken from this earth far too soon. 

In honoring our fallen warriors, we also pay tribute to our veterans still with us and those serving on the front lines, in the air, on land and sea.  The world is a dangerous place and our nation’s security has been paid for in blood.  Facing constant threats from Russia, North Korea, China, and radical Islamists, it is imperative that we continue our unwavering commitment to protecting the freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution.

You will be pleased to know that last week the House passed H.R. 5515, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19 NDAA) with my support.  The FY19 NDAA allows our military to begin to address the readiness crisis that has led to nearly four times as many members of the military dying in training accidents in comparison to those killed in combat, attrition of aircraft, and two deadly collisions of the USS John S. McCain and the USS Fitzgerald, amongst other incidents. Additionally, the FY19 NDAA places a strong focus on nuclear deterrence in order to address the threats posed by Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran. 

We also need to ensure that we are fulfilling the promises made to those who served.  Just this month, the House passed more than a dozen bills to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and improve health care services for millions of veterans, including legislation to expand the private health care options for veterans.  The VA Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks Act, also known as the VA MISSION Act, builds off of the Care Veterans Deserve Act, a bill to reform the way veterans access care outside the VA.  

This legislation consolidates seven confusing programs into one streamlined community care program and removes the current 30-day, 40-mile barriers that exist in the Choice program to ensure timely access to quality care should the VA be unable to provide the care the veteran requires. This bill also helps modernize the VA to ensure veterans have access to quality care inside VA facilities.  In addition, the bill helps improve existing care options and opens up new ways veterans can access the care they need – when they need it.  And it will expand the VA’s Family Caregiver Program  in the coming years to veterans who sustained a serious injury in the line of duty prior to September 11, 2001– ensuring millions of spouses, family members, and friends who care for ill or injured service members and veterans have the support they need. After its passage in the Senate, the VA MISSION Act heads to President Trump’s desk to be signed into law.

Today, we reflect on those who paid the ultimate price in order to secure our freedoms and liberties. We are very fortunate to live in a country that affords her citizens such unalienable rights and we should take a few moments to observe the selfless acts of those who served valiantly – the true meaning of Memorial Day.