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Brian Luke Community Blogger, WGRZ-TV

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Louise Line An Update from the Front Lines of Congress

In honor of Veterans Day today, I have the distinct honor of presenting the Purple Heart, one of nation’s oldest and most prestigious military decorations, to one of Western New York’s finest heroes, Chris Krieger.

Like many of our nation’s veterans, Chris returned home from his tour of duty in Iraq with life altering wounds. As Americans we owe it to brave veterans such as Chris, who have proudly served our country, to provide the highest standard of care so that they can resume their lives in a productive and fulfilling manner.

As your Congresswoman, I want to take a moment today to thank Chris and all of the brave servicemen and women to whom we are forever indebted to for their bravery, selflessness, and courage. I have made it my number one priority to build a 21st Century Veterans Administration. During my time as chair of the powerful House Rules Committee from 2007-2011, I helped usher in historic gains for America’s troops, veterans, and military families by passing legislation that affected nearly every veteran in America.

We must provide the men and women of our military with the care they need in an efficient and timely manner, especially as new veterans return home from our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. That’s why I’ve worked to provide funding for a post-9/11 GI Bill that restored the promise of a full, four-year college education to our returning troops and their families who want to pursue a higher education.

I am particularly proud to have supported the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act, which passed during the 111th Congress. The legislation removed barriers to women veterans seeking health care. For the first time in our history, the VA will pay for the care of newborn children and their mothers for up to seven days after birth. This legislation also enhanced treatment for victims of sexual trauma at the VA.

This Congress, I have supported a number of critical measures to help veterans during all phases of life. I am concerned that the push to lower our deficit and cut government spending will disproportionately harm veterans with increases in TRICARE fees and reductions in benefits. That’s why I have advocated preventing increases in TRICARE payments for retired veterans. I have also been a strong advocate for programs that will help homeless veteran get back on their feet. Not one of these heroes should be allowed to slip through the cracks.

I also strongly oppose any cuts to military retirement benefits that may or may not be included in any deficit reduction proposals. Our nation’s military retirement system is a non-contributory, defined benefit system that has historically been viewed as a significant incentive in retaining a career military force. Our military men and women put their lives on the line and sacrifice every day to ensure our security. They should not have to worry about how they will support themselves during retirement.

Without the service of our men and women in uniform, past and present, our country would not stand so boldly, shine so brightly, and live so freely. This day and every day, let us honor their service with actions that fulfill our commitment to our troops, their families, and our veterans – and that are worthy of our grateful nation.

It is an honor to represent you, and the most effective way for me to do my job as your elected representative is to keep in touch with you. Please contact me at (716) 853-5813 in Buffalo or (585) 232-4850 in Rochester if you have questions regarding federal legislation or if you need help navigating the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Louise M. Slaughter

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