At Yuba-Sutter Stand Down, Congressman Garamendi Thanks Veterans and Service Providers for their Contributions to Nation
MARYSVILLE, CA – Today, Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, CA), a Member of the House Armed Services Committee, addressed hundreds of veterans and veteran service providers in Marysville at the Yuba-Sutter Stand Down for lower income and homeless veterans.
“When you represent in Congress as many veterans as I do, this job becomes all the more significant. Those willing to risk everything in service to our nation deserve every possible opportunity to succeed and thrive in civilian life,” Congressman Garamendi said. “The Stand Down is one of our greatest institutions, helping veterans overcome life’s hurdles, and I’m proud to share these grounds with so many heroes. Thank you veterans, and thank you to the many service providers giving back.”
He added, “I’ve asked my staff to go the extra mile for veterans – and they do – because that’s the least we can do. We’re focused on helping veterans find employment, ensuring that mental health issues are tackled head on, and making sure that veterans get every penny owed to them. This year alone, we’ve secured more than $3.5 million in benefits earned by veterans. I know we can’t do it alone. Every year when I see all the great work done at the Yuba-Sutter Stand Down, I leave with hope, and I leave with even greater determination to make America work for all veterans. You are all an inspiration.”
At the Stand Down, which continues on Saturday, a number of service providers are available to help struggling veterans get on their feet, including veterans benefits, employment referral services, and mental health and substance abuse counseling. The Stand Down also has on-site services available to take care of the immediate needs of veterans, including showers, barbers, medical and dental exams, and overnight shelter.
Prior to his remarks, Congressman Garamendi presented a flag to Barbara Cook in honor of her husband U.S. Air Force Master Sergeant Ronald Cook who was a veteran and Yuba-Sutter County Veterans representative. He passed away in May.
Congressman Garamendi’s Commitment to Veterans
Congressman Garamendi has long supported services for veterans and the Stand Down specifically. When a government shutdown last year prevented a Department of Labor grant from being processed just a week before the Stand Down, Congressman Garamendi personally intervened to secure a temporary no-interest loan. His staff also participates in the Stand Downs by setting up a table to offer their case work services – helping people who are having trouble obtaining their earned benefits from federal agencies, including the VA, Medicare, and Social Security. Thus far in 2014, Congressman Garamendi’s has helped secure more than $3.5 million in owed VA claims for veterans in his district.
When a major overhaul of VA services authored by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) languished for months in both chambers of Congress, Garamendi repeatedly urged his colleagues to put partisanship aside for America’s veterans. Following a series of devastating reports on practices by some within the Veterans Administration, Congressman Garamendi joined 116 Members of Congress in sending a letter to Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Reid urging them to get a deal done for veterans before the August Recess period. Earlier this summer, the two parties came together to passing a comprehensive VA reform bill that provides:
- $10 billion to fund a newly established program that immediately addresses the VA wait-time crisis by allowing veterans who have waited at least 30 days for an appointment with the VA or who live more than 40 miles from a VA facility to seek care from a non-VA source;
- $5 billion to the VA to address systemic problems within the VA health care system by hiring more primary and specialty care physicians and other medical staff and also incentives to attract more doctors, nurses and other medical personnel to the VA; and
- Greater accountability by empowering the VA Secretary with the ability to immediately fire or demote senior executives based on poor job performance or misconduct and by protecting whistleblowers who can point out problems.
Garamendi has consistently voted for legislation to help veterans, including reducing the VA claims backlog, expanding health services for veterans, and extending benefits to the caregivers of veterans to help keep veterans in their homes.
He has also hosted a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) roundtable discussion to help government, non-profit, and faith-based service providers better understand, recognize, and respond to PTSD. Garamendi’s Jobs Task Force has also launched an initiative encouraging employers to Just Hire One Veteran, a community-driven effort to combat the high levels of veteran unemployment in the 3rd District, particularly among those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.