Congressional Roundup: VA Hospital, Rural VA issues, Belarus

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It’s June 12, 2021. Here is a roundup of recent news from New Hampshire’s Congressional Delegation.

Congressional dome. Credit/Wikimedia Commons

Hassan discusses VA issues at committee hearing

This week, U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan emphasized the need to get a full-service VA hospital in New Hampshire and make long-term improvements to the Manchester VA Medical Center during a Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing.

“New Hampshire is one of three states – along with Alaska and Hawaii – that lacks a full-service VA hospital – something I’ve been pushing to change for years. Because we don’t have a single full-service facility, many Granite State veterans receive care in a patchwork manner – at clinics, through contractors, and across state lines,” said Hassan.

“The current VA Medical Center building in Manchester is 70 years old – and it shows,” Hassan added.Just a few years ago, the building had a major fly infestation that led to canceled procedures, and the VA has spent tens of thousands of dollars on exterminators to help address the problem. Our veterans shouldn’t have to wait for insect infestations to clear up in order to get the care that they need.”

To watch Senator Hassan’s questioning, click here.

Shaheen discusses Belarus situation

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), the only woman and a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, pushed for a strengthened response to the oppressive Lukashenko regime during a hearing on U.S. policy on Belarus.

She thanked the Belarusian opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who Shaheen met with in Lithuania last week, for her courage and leadership, and signaled U.S. support for democracy in Belarus. She also discussed supporting free and fair elections and an independent media in Belarus with the U.S. Ambassador to Belarus, Julie Fisher, and the President and CEO of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

Shaheen asked Ambassador Fisher about the implications of a closer union between Lukashenko and Putin. She then asked the ambassador how the U.S. can best support frontline allies like Lithuania, with whom she met last week, and Poland as they support the democratic opposition.

You can watch Shaheen’s full questioning to the first panel of witnesses here.

Pappas discusses rural VA issues

Congressman Chris Pappas (D-NH), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations on the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Congressman Don Young (R-AK), Dean of the House and U.S. Army Veteran, and Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Chair of the House Republican Conference introduced legislation to permanently reauthorize the Highly Rural Veteran Transportation Program within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). This critical program allows State Veterans Service Agencies and Veteran Service Organizations to provide no-cost transportation services to VA or VA-authorized health care facilities to veterans in highly rural areas. Other original cosponsors include Representatives Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-OR), Cindy Axne (D-IA), Pete Stauber (R-MN), Yvette Harrell (R-NM), and Aumua Amata (R-AS).

Under current law, this program must be reauthorized every two years by Congress. With so many veterans relying on the Highly Rural Veteran Transportation Program to secure the health care benefits they have earned, it is critical to provide peace of mind and certainty by permanently reauthorizing it.

“The zip code or county in which a veteran lives should not determine their level of access to the care and services they have earned through their service to our country,” said Pappas. “This bipartisan legislation to permanently authorize the Highly Rural Veteran Transportation Grant program is so critical to guarantee that the 4.7 million veterans living in the most rural parts of our country have access to no-cost transportation to get care at the VA or VA-authorized facilities. I remain committed to working in a bipartisan fashion to make it easier for those who have worn the uniform of our country to receive care and to ensure that veterans do not have to fight another battle to live a healthy, full life when they return home.”