Erik Paulsen regularly issues a video Correspondence Corner in which he responds to constituent questions.
It is a great ploy — Congressman Paulsen determines what question is to be answered … thus, providing him an opportunity to portray himself as effectively responding to issues that he wishes to address as if they are the most critical issues that voters want addressed.
The MN Political Roundtable will be evaluating Congressman Paulsen’s responses and encouraging readers to offer their own assessments.
Today’s topic: H.R.918 – Veteran Urgent Access to Mental
On November 7th, the House of Representatives, in a voice vote, approved H.R. 918, the Veteran Urgent Access to Mental HealthCare Act, to help less-than-honorably discharged veterans get mental health assistance after serving in combat.
Although it did take over 20 months for the House to allow a vote (originally offered on March 3, 2016), it provided a great set-up for the #PaulsenSpin in conjunction with Veteran’s Day.
Yep, don’t kid yourself … the House Republicans approved a number of veterans bills last week — none got any NO votes.
H.R. 918, Veteran Urgent Access to Mental Healthcare Act
H.R. 1133, Veterans Transplant Coverage Act
H.R. 1900, National Veterans Memorial and Museum Act
H.R. 2123, Veterans E-Health and Telemedicine Support (VETS) Act
H.R. 2601, Veterans Increased Choice for Transplanted Organs and Recovery (VICTOR) Act
H.R. 3634, Securing Electronic Records for Veterans Ease (SERVE) Act
H.R. 3949, Veterans Apprenticeship and Labor Opportunity Reform (VALOR) Act
So, it is a good thing that Robert from Edina emailed Congressman Paulsen to ask him to support HR918 Veteran Urgent Access to Mental Healthcare Act … it gave Congressman Paulsen an opportunity to spin the image that House Republicans are working hard to ensure that veterans receive the services they need.
The bill responds to a problem as it directs the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide initial mental health assessments and “urgent mental health care services to veterans at risk of suicide or harming others, even if they have an other than honorable discharge“. It is the “other than honorable discharge“ that is the real focus of the bill as it would require the VA to set up a “character of service” determination process to more closely review why people were dismissed and how it should affect their eligibility of VA benefits. The bill does not appropriate any money … and CBO estimates that only 340 former service members would use these medical services through VA each year.
Yep, a good step … but more needs to be done.
Like H.R.2452 – Deborah Sampson Act
Our nation's 2.2 million female veterans experience higher rates of post-traumatic stress, military sexual assault, unemployment, and homelessness, but they have less access to the VA than their male counterparts. The Deborah Sampson Act can help fix these fundamental inequities.
— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) November 9, 2017
Congresswoman Gabbard (D-HI-02) is right.
More than 345,000 women have deployed since 9/11. Women are the fastest-growing segment of the veteran population and that trend will continue as the number of male veterans simultaneously declines over the next decades. However, many female veterans are left without the proper care to support their needs when they return from their service.
The Deborah Sampson Act is sponsored by 14 Republicans and 33 Democrats … but not Erik Paulsen.
Other bills that Congressman Paulsen needs to support include :
H.R. 632 – Mark Takai Atomic Veterans Healthcare Parity Act
H.R.1206 – Reducing Barriers for Veterans Education Act of 2017
H.R.1279 – Helping Veterans Exposed to Burn Pits Act
H.R.1445 – Veterans Reimbursement for Emergency Ambulance Services Act
H.R.1472 – Military and Veteran Caregiver Services Improvement Act of 2017
H.R.2827 – Voices for Veterans Act
H.R.3272 – Veteran Education Empowerment Act
Sponsoring bills is probably the least that should be done … even then it may be for “show” … like March 10, 2017
Then Congressman Paulsen professed his support for H.R. 299 – Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2017.
So, here we are eight months later … HR 299 now has 319 sponsors (148 Republicans and 171 Democrats) … yet Republican leadership has failed to allow a vote.
Heck, the Republican leadership will not even allow a vote on House Concurrent Resolution 45 (which has 29 Republican sponsors [which does not include Congressman Paulsen] and 40 Democrats) – Expressing the sense of Congress that those who served in the bays, harbors, and territorial seas of the Republic of Vietnam during the period beginning on January 9, 1962, and ending on May 7, 1975, should be presumed to have served in the Republic of Vietnam for all purposes under the Agent Orange Act of 1991.
WHY no vote on HR 299 … well, the simple answer is money. The Republican controlled Congress allowed the previous program to lapse … and now is focused on cutting taxes despite the $1.5 TRILLION price tag.
The Paulsen message is pure #PaulsenSpin
On Veteran’s Day, we take this opportunity to think about the brave men and women who have served our country to protect our freedom and all we hold dear. The sacrifices made, the struggles endured, and the challenges overcome by these heroes in uniform are what keep us safe.
We also recognize their loved ones who joined in that sacrifice.
To the Army, Navy, Marine, Air Force, Coast Guard, and National Guard veterans living in Minnesota and throughout the U.S: Thank you. We owe you a debt that can never be repaid.
So, Congressman Paulsen spins his support for veterans while maintaining his support for the unpaid tax cuts … which in the end will leave our veterans at risk of more program lapses.
In conclusion, once again, ask this question :
Considering that no one objected to H.R. 918, the Veteran Urgent Access to Mental HealthCare Act, would another Congressman do something more ?
And apparently by the number of other Republicans and Democrats pushing veterans-related legislation, the answer is YES.