I'm a Vietnam War veteran and a Past President of the PA State Council of VVA. I would like to respond to your report of Senator Pat Toomey's news conference in which he discussed new legislation called the VA Accountability Act. I understand that the bill would include several items to make people in the VA accountable by, for example, providing remedies for those veterans harmed as a result of willful VA misconduct.
While I think it's nice he wants to question VA practices, I question how substantially effective his action will be. I wonder if he, in fact, may be a bit politically opportunistic. His record of support for veterans is woefully inadequate. He has had many opportunities to demonstrate his support for veterans and has repeatedly failed to deliver.
For example, Toomey voted against every veterans' funding bill (13 of them) in the 10 years he has served as a Congressman from 2000-2005 and as a Senator from 2011 until now. He only voted for one in his career, in 1999. In addition to his votes against Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) appropriations bills, he voted against every other bill that would fund veteran programs, such as the Veterans Jobs Act and the recent Health and Benefits bill for our veterans.
Let me just point out what his votes against those bills mean to our veterans. When he filibustered the Health and Benefits bill for veterans, he voted against increasing assisted living services for veterans who have traumatic brain injuries. That bill also would have expanded care for women veterans through various programs such as occupational counseling and stress reduction therapy. When Toomey filibustered the bipartisan Veterans Jobs Act, he blocked efforts to help our Iraq and Afghanistan warriors get jobs in their communities after deployment -- even after he voted to send them to war.
While it's good Toomey is paying attention to the issues at the VA hospitals, I wish he would have stood with us veterans in the past -- when we really needed his votes.
Larry Holman, MS, MBA
Past President, PA State Council, Vietnam Veterans of America
Past President, PA War Veterans Council