FOR GENERATIONS, brave Americans have answered our nation’s call to duty, allowing us to continue to live free and in peace. Too frequently, however, those very same veterans return home without the support and resources that they need to transition back to and thrive in civilian life.

We have to do more to build a country that is ever-worthy of our veterans’ service and sacrifices, and that starts with ensuring that they receive the care and support that they need and have earned. Throughout my time in public service, I have worked to support veterans, and I am excited to have a new opportunity to further that work in the 117th Congress as a new member of the United States Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

As the daughter of a World War II veteran who fought in the Battle of the Bulge, this is an issue that is personal to me. And I am ready to get to work on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee to pass bipartisan legislation that will improve veterans’ health care, tackle mental health challenges, and ease the transition into civilian life.

To start, I’m currently working to strengthen and make permanent the Solid Start program at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which contacts every veteran multiple times by phone in the first year after they leave active duty to check in and help connect them to VA programs and benefits. This program is an important step in supporting the transition back into civilian life, and we must ensure that it continues.

In addition, far too many veterans experience mental and emotional trauma as a result of their service. To strengthen mental health services for veterans, I am working on bipartisan legislation with Republican Senator Joni Ernst to raise awareness of the Buddy Check program, where veterans reach out to each other to provide peer support.

I am also working to pass the Green Alert Act, a bipartisan bill that I am planning to re-introduce with Senator Ernst. This bill would help states implement “Green Alert” systems to locate veterans when they go missing so that they can receive appropriate care, similar to the Silver Alert system for older Americans and AMBER Alert system for children.

As our country responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, we must also make sure that veterans receive vital job assistance. Due to the pandemic, the veteran unemployment rate has risen across the country. Earlier this year, legislation that I cosponsored was signed into law to address unemployment challenges and help veterans transition to civilian jobs.

Finally, we must keep supporting vaccination efforts and high-quality health care for veterans at VA Medical Centers and in their communities. I will continue pushing the VA to strengthen vaccination efforts for veterans in harder-to-reach rural areas, and for those without internet access or who have trouble using technology.

Despite the partisanship that stalls progress on too many pressing challenges in Washington, I am proud that members of both parties routinely set aside their differences to find common ground on issues critical to veterans. The Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is one with a strong history of bipartisanship, and as a new member of the committee, I will continue that focus to provide veterans and their families with the support that they deserve.

Maggie Hassan is a Democrat representing New Hampshire in the U.S. Senate.

Monday, April 19, 2021
Sunday, April 18, 2021

ONE WEEK before the Merrimack special election to replace deceased House Speaker Dick Hinch, U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen co-authored an op-ed with Wendy Thomas, the Democratic nominee for the seat, in New Hampshire’s only statewide daily newspaper.

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