Veterans Deserve Better From Federal Government

Published 4:45 pm Tuesday, June 9, 2015


Recently, as our nation came together on Memorial Day to pay tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country, I traveled across the 5th Congressional District and met with many veterans from Henry County to Brunswick County and from Fauquier County to Danville.

It served as a reminder of how fortunate we are to live in this great nation and enjoy these tremendous freedoms, but if it were not for those willing to serve, we would not have these blessings. I was grateful to have the opportunity to thank some of our American heroes for all they have sacrificed for American liberty and gain insight on how their lives can be made easier.

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At Southern Virginia Community College in Brunswick County, I met with student veterans, and I toured Liberty University Army ROTC offices meeting with students and faculty.  While at Buckingham County High School, JROTC cadets performed their rope bridge demonstration, and I was honored to participate in their promotion ceremony, and at Fork Union Military Academy, I was able to meet with faculty who prepare these young cadets for service.

At American Legion Posts in Warrenton and Appomattox and while meeting with veterans in Mecklenburg and Fluvanna counties, I continued to hear about how the Department of Veterans Affairs continues to be an impenetrable bureaucracy for so many of our veterans. While visiting veterans at the Halifax War Memorial, I heard about the excessive backlog of claims in Virginia.  As a result of this backlog, they told me how their claims have been sent to different states that seem to have different standards of assessing claims. I talked with veterans who explained that they have been waiting an entire year for the VA to respond to their claims, because it takes the VA as long as six months to even access the necessary records.

Another veteran at the Halifax War Memorial told me how the “40-mile rule” created to allow veterans residing over 40 miles from the nearest VA medical facility to receive care outside the VA system is not fulfilling its intended purpose because some clinics are included in this criteria do not provide the type of care the veteran may need. I was encouraged that the Senate passed a bill that will change the 40-mile calculation to be based on the nearest VA facility that provides the service being sought by the veteran. I hope that the House considers this commonsense bill expeditiously.

Our veterans deserve better. Period. We have an obligation to take care of those who have taken care of us, and it is our responsibility to make sure they receive the highest level of care. I encourage our veterans and our active-duty members of the armed services to contact our office if we may ever be of assistance in dealing with the Veterans Administration or any other federal agency.

I am grateful to all of the veterans who took the time to meet with me. I am humbled by the opportunity to serve Virginia’s 5th District veterans, and I remain fully committed to ensuring that our citizens who have given the most receive the benefits they have earned and deserve.

U.S. Rep. Robert Hurt, R-Va., represents the 5th Congressional District, which includes Prince Edward, Buckingham and Cumberland counties. He can be emailed through his website,