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Opinion | It’s our responsibility to get this right

By U.S. Rep. Martha Roby

According to the recently released federal statistics, Alabama’s Second District has the thirteenth largest population of military retirees in the entire country, with 16,000 of these men and women living here as of the end of last year. It goes without saying that this is hugely significant, and I was proud to share the news on the House floor recently.

While of course I am glad that these retired service members chose us, we are truly honored to have them. As their neighbors, it is our job to make sure they feel at home, welcome, and most of all: appreciated. To the 16,000 retired military personnel who call Alabama’s Second District home, I join our state and community in thanking you for your service to our great country. Thank you and your families for sacrificing on our behalf.

Now, let us care for you. This responsibility starts with making sure our veterans receive the care they deserve. If you are a veteran who needs any kind of casework assistance with a federal agency such as the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Social Security Administration, or others, please contact one of my offices right now. Do not put this off. My staff and I work for you. We are grateful for you. And as the representative for this district, it is my job to fight for you. This is a task I take very, very seriously.

We owe the men and women who have put on the uniform a great debt of gratitude. But unfortunately, it’s no secret that these heroes often don’t receive the health care they deserve. You may recall that not too long ago, our own Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System (CAVHCS) was ranked as one of the nation’s worst VA medical centers. I’ve shared many times the list of horror stories we uncovered that includes lost x-Rays and even falsification of records. I said at the time that the installation of new, permanent leadership would be a good start toward turning around the system. Now under the steady leadership of CAVHCS Director Dr. Linda Boyle, we’ve begun to make progress toward providing veterans adequate medical attention. I greatly appreciate her dedication to the task at hand. We still have a lot of work to do, but I am proud of the steps that have been taken so far.

On a national level, Congress passed and the President signed the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act. This historic VA reform legislation strengthened protections for whistleblowers who bravely expose wrongdoing and gives VA Secretary Shulkin increased flexibility to fire, suspend, or demote any VA employee for poor performance. I was honored to be at the White House when President Trump signed this important bill into law, and I believe it has already begun to make a difference.

While we have made marked progress in improving care for veterans both locally and nationally, we still have a long way to go to finally give all veterans the very best service possible. The story has left the front page for now, but I haven’t forgotten. As the representative for the thirteenth largest retired military population in the country, I will remain actively involved and keep you updated on any progress. In the meantime, my offices are always available and ready to assist veterans in any way we can. Please do not hesitate to contact me. It’s our responsibility to get this right.

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Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama with her husband Riley and their two children.


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