Senator Hassan Discussed VA Action This Week on Toxic Exposure Following Senator Hassan & Colleagues Push to Strengthen Health Care Veterans Exposed to Toxic Substances
WASHINGTON - This week Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH), a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, raised concerns about issues facing Granite State veterans including the challenges that veterans face buying a home using the VA Home Loan Guaranty Program, the importance of accessible transportation for veterans in rural areas, and reforms to ensure that the National Guard and Reservists can be buried in state veterans’ cemeteries.
To watch Senator Hassan’s questioning, click here.
Before beginning her questioning, Senator Hassan took a moment to thank Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) for their advocacy on toxic exposure and ensuring that the VA provides health care and disability benefits for veterans exposed to toxic substances. Last month, the Senate passed bipartisan legislation to strengthen health care for veterans who served after 9/11 and were exposed to toxic substances during their service, including key provisions that Senator Hassan worked on. This week, the VA announced it will propose adding nine rare respiratory cancers to the presumed service-connected list, so these veterans exposed to toxic substances can get disability benefits.
“Before I ask a question, I want to recognize the testimony provided already by our witnesses on veterans exposed to toxic substances…The VA and Congress need to continue to work together so that veterans exposed to toxic substances have the health care and disability benefits they have earned and deserve, and I will continue working with my colleagues to ensure that Congress passes bipartisan legislation,” said Senator Hassan.
Senator Hassan spoke with Matthew Mihelcic, Commander-in-Chief of the Veterans Foreign Wars (VFW) about the concerns that she heard from Granite Stater veterans who have struggled to use the VA Home Loan Guaranty Program. In his response, Mr. Mihelcic echoed Senator Hassan’s point that it should be easier to access a VA home loan and the importance of educating veterans about the process. Senator Hassan’s questioning follows her bipartisan call to the Department of Veterans Affairs to help more veterans and military families purchase homes by providing additional flexibilities through the VA Home Loan Guaranty Program, as well as additional education and outreach to real estate agents, mortgage lenders, and veterans about the VA Home Loan process.
Senator Hassan also spoke with Mr. Mihelcic about the Burial Equity for Guard and Reserves Act, a Hassan-backed effort which would ensure burial equity for members of the National Guard and Reserve components. Mr. Mihelcic shared Senator Hassan’s belief, stating “We do support you 100%, again it goes back to total force. When someone joins the military, whether they are in the Guard, the Reserve, or the active component, they have served. They deserve all of the rights available to them, and that includes being able to be buried in the hallowed ground of a veteran’ cemetery. We fully support that.”
In a hearing earlier this week, Senator Hassan also drew attention to the transportation barriers that many New Hampshire veterans in rural communities face to getting care at the VA and the importance of supporting DAV’s Transportation Network to help meet veterans’ needs.