Sens. Menendez, Booker Visit with NJ Vets; Applaud Passage of VA Reforms Bill

Sens. Menendez, Booker Visit with NJ Vets; Applaud Passage of VA Reforms Bill

NUTLEY, NJ - U.S. Senators Robert Menendez and Cory Booker (both D-NJ) today met with New Jersey military veterans and applauded the much-needed reforms passed yesterday by Congress to restore accountability within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and increase health care access for veterans.

"The bipartisan Veterans bill we passed yesterday in Congress is an essential step forward," said Sen. Menendez. "Our brave men and women did not wait to sign up to serve this country, and they should not have to wait to get the benefits they have earned defending it. I will continue to closely monitor the ongoing investigations at VA hospitals serving New Jersey veterans to make absolutely certain that they will be able to access the quality care they need and deserve."

"Our brave men and women in the service were willing to put their lives on the line for our country. It's not an option - it's our obligation - to take care of them when they return home," Sen. Booker said. "This comprehensive legislation ensures that veterans can see a doctor more quickly and veterans with severe brain injuries continue to get the critical care they need."

The Veterans' Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act is designed to help fix some of the issues arising from the scandal at the Phoenix, Ariz. Veterans' Affairs facility and address the problem of very long patient wait times at Veterans Healthcare Facilities across the country.

The legislation provides:

  • $5 billion to increase access to health care by hiring more physicians and medical staff to clear the patient backlog
  • $10 billion to establish a Veterans' Choice Fund to pay for eligible veterans to get private medical care
  • An expedited process to remove incompetent managers at the VA
  • Authorization to construct or expand 27 VA medical facilities in 18 states and Puerto Rico, including in Brick, N.J.
  • Extensions to pilot programs for Access Received Closer to Home (ARCH), and rehabilitation, quality of life and community integration services for veterans with complex-mild-to-severe traumatic brain injury
  • G.I. Bill improvements through a Requirement for public colleges to provide in-state tuition to veterans and eligible dependents and an expansion of full scholarships to the spouses of servicemembers who died in the line of duty post-9/11.

Among those joining the Senators today at the Nutley VFW Post 493 were: Jack Kane, N.J. State VFW Commander; Jack Fanous, G.I. GO Fund; Sandy Reilly on behalf of her brother Gary Schall, a Gulf War and Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran suffering from traumatic brain injury; local elected officials; veterans and their families.