As important as it is to support America’s soldiers on the battlefield, we must also support veterans and their families here at home. New Mexico is home to a large number of veterans, and we have a solemn responsibility make sure that we're standing up for those who took a stand for us. No veteran who returns from serving our country should have difficulty accessing the benefits they deserve. No veteran should face homelessness or poverty. No veteran should have to suffer in silence from the invisible wounds of war such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI). These national heroes put themselves in harm’s way to keep us safe, and now we owe it to them to provide them with the best services, care and support possible. In Congress, I’m working hard to ensure that our nation fulfills its solemn obligations to veterans and their families.
In June 2013, I hosted a Veterans Town Hall in Albuquerque where I heard from New Mexico veterans experiencing PTSD and TBI, discussed how they can get proper care and treatment through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and talked policy solutions to help our country's veterans. We also discussed the need to quickly end the unconscionable backlog of disability claims at the VA that is preventing veterans from getting the care and services they need. In the last year, thanks to pressure from Congress, the VA has made significant progress in reducing the backlog, but we must keep working until we reach the point where no veteran faces any delay in receiving the benefits they've earned while serving our country.
In October 2013, I introduced the Veterans’ Independent Living Enhancement Act, bipartisan legislation to help disabled veterans live independently and participate in family and community life. I’m proud that this bill has received the support of a dozen different veterans’ and health organizations. The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) said, “IAVA supports this strong bipartisan legislation which would help more disabled veterans get the care and services they need to live independent, successful, and fulfilling lives." That’s something every veteran deserves, and that’s why I’m working to remove barriers that make it difficult for veterans to transition from military to civilian life.