Issues | Veterans

Indiana’s 3rd District is home to over 48,000 veterans. I’m grateful for their service and humbled to represent their needs in Congress. Northeast Indiana’s strong veteran population is just one of the reasons I sought out a seat on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

I’m honored to be the chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity, which oversees the GI Bill, employment and training of veterans, vocational rehabilitation, and readjustment of servicemembers to civilian life. This is especially timely as our veterans return from Iraq and Afghanistan, but we also must continue to serve the ongoing needs of veterans from previous conflicts.  The Economic Opportunity Subcommittee will work to ensure that we keep our promises to those who sacrificed for our freedoms.
As a freshman legislator, I am proud to have authored and passed 2 bills out of the House of Representatives:
  • H.R. 1657- Increases penalties for small businesses who fraudulently present themselves as Service Disabled Veteran-Owned small business.  H.R. 1657 passed the House May 23, 2011 by a vote of 385-1.
  • H.R. 2302- Targets waste, fraud, and abuse in the Department of Veterans’ Affairs by making transparent to Congress any conferences involving more than 20 attendees and costing over $20,000.  H.R. 2302 passed the House October 10, 2011.
I am an original co-sponsor of:
H.R. 2433- Veterans Opportunity to Work Act (VOW Act).  This legislation:
  • Enhances the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) to ensure it is effective, measures success, and makes classes mandatory for all service members;
  • Enables 100,000 unemployed veterans of past eras to receive up to 1-year of Montgomery GI Bill benefits;
  • Strengthens the protections provided by the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA);
  • Works with the Department of Labor and the states to identify roadblocks to obtaining employment.
  • Passed the House October 13, 2011
One of the main reasons I requested to serve on the House Veterans' Affairs Committee is to get involved with the Fort Wayne VA Hospital. 
  • In 2009, it was announced Fort Wayne would receive a new Health Care Center with extensive outpatient services.  This plan would have eliminated inpatient care availability in Fort Wayne.   The VA worked though administrative aspects of this project, but the project was not funded. 
  • A 27,000 square-foot mental health annex was proposed in the VA’s FY 2012 budget submission.  This annex will provide a mental health clinic, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Clinic, substance abuse clinic, telephone triage, and fee services programs.   The appropriation authorization for this lease passed the House on September 20 and was signed into law October 5.  The project must be completed by 2015.
  • The VA hospital is safe in its current state - it is not in danger of losing any of its current services and will only be adding to its current service levels with the addition of the annex.   This annex and the mental health services it will provide have been determined by the VA to meet the Fort Wayne area’s most critical needs.
  • The VA is in the process of developing a multi-year capital plan to invest in the Fort Wayne hospital and ensure it receives the most up-to-date equipment and physical plant updates.
I want to make sure that veterans know that my door is always open. I encourage them to use my office as a resource. If you have questions or concerns, please be sure to contact one of my offices and speak with a member of my staff.