Military and Veterans
Our men and women in uniform promise, each and every day, to protect our nation whatever the cost. They deserve our support from their first day of service on through the rest of their lives. While serving on active duty, our troops must have access to the best training, equipment, healthcare, and education. In this era of tough fiscal choices, Congress needs to work with the Department of Defense to identify and eliminate wasteful military spending without compromising the quality of training and services available to military personnel.
At a time when our country is winding down two long and painful wars; when the experience of their service and the contours of their wounds have changed dramatically from previous generations: it is more critical than ever that we have programs in place to help our heroes when they come home. On the other side of active duty, the federal government has an obligation to honor our veterans’ service by helping them reintegrate into the civilian economy, with access to all of the job training, benefits, and support they have earned. Backlogs and bureaucratic delays at the Veterans Administration undermine this commitment. No veteran should call the VA only to be told there is a 60-day wait to book an appointment or file a claim – or that it will take over two years for them to see benefits.
There are over 36,000 civilian veterans living in the 4th District of Massachusetts, and they are twice as likely as other workers to be unemployed. Efforts by the VA, the Department of Labor, and community organizations, continue to provide job training and certification to veterans. However, we lack a coordinated system that integrates training providers, funding, employer contacts, and caseworkers to make these services available to all veterans who need them. As we work to address those gaps in our system, I have established a Veterans Advisory Board in the 4th District to help outline priorities that will benefit veterans in our district and across the country.
Employers often do not “connect the dots” between the skills acquired during military service and the skills needed for private sector employment. Many veterans return to the civilian job market with skilled military work experience as electricians, medical technicians, and logistics managers. The first piece of legislation that passed the House in the 114thCongress was the Hire More Heroes Act, a bill to promote and encourage more businesses to hire more veterans. It is also our responsibility to combat homelessness, addiction, and unemployment in the veteran community, making sure that we defend their livelihood the way they once defended ours.
During the 113th Congress, I proudly supported Wounded Warrior programs for veterans with disabilities, as well as cosponsored legislation that would protect veterans with service connected illnesses. I also supported legislation that would provide two-weeks of paid leave to military families and spent time visiting veterans’ housing facilities across the district to find more ways the federal government can support programs that provide low-income and affordable shelter to our men and women in uniform.
Beyond easing the path to potential jobs for our returning heroes, we must also support the companies that are researching and developing state-of-the-art equipment that will protect our soldiers on the battlefield. Right here in the 4th District, next generation communication technology is being developed to ensure that our troops can remain connected. As these programs faced cuts in each of the last two budgets, I joined members of the Massachusetts delegation in successfully urging the Department of Defense to preserve this critical funding. Across our Commonwealth, innovative companies form the backbone of a vibrant defense industry that drives job creation and economic growth for our communities and merits continued support from the federal government.
I have also had the honor of meeting many of our men and women in uniform on their assignments overseas. From Afghanistan to Asia to Central America, Congressional delegation trips abroad have highlighted the incredible work being done by our Armed Forces in some of the most dangerous and complex parts of the world and underscored how essential it is that we continue to support them any way we can.
There is no question that the face of our military has evolved along with the face of our nation. As we see more and more women serving in uniform, we will need to work together to end sexual assault in the armed services, and to make sure that healthcare, training, and benefits meet the needs of each of our brave men and women in uniform.
More on Military and Veterans
Washington, D.C. – This morning Congressman Joe Kennedy III took to the House Floor to condemn President Trump’s bigoted attack on transgender soldiers and announcement that they will no longer be allowed to serve in the United States military. Kennedy currently serves as Chair of the Congressional Transgender Equality Task Force.
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Joe Kennedy III, Chair of the Congressional Transgender Equality Task Force, today released the following statement after the bipartisan rejection of an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would deny medically necessary health care to transgender service members.
Washington, D.C. – In a letter to Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ), Congressman Joe Kennedy III today urged the Senate to reject the nomination of Tennessee State Senator Mark Green as Secretary of the Army. In addition to claiming that being transgender is a ‘disease,’ Green has referred to the transgender community as ‘evil’ and likened them to ISIS terrorists.
Newton, MA – Congressman Joe Kennedy III released the following statement tonight after President Trump launched U.S. airstrikes in Syria.
"President Assad's vicious brutality demands a response. But this country doesn't fight wars without giving the American people a say. Any plans for military engagement in Syria must come before their elected representatives in Congress for a debate and a vote. And any strategy that ignores the refugees fleeing this unimaginable terror is a half-step at best."
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