My family has a proud military heritage, tracing our lineage back to my great-great-great-grandfather who served in the North Carolina militia during the American Revolution. My grandfather served as part of an anti-aircraft battery and was highly decorated during World War II. I have close friends and family who have served combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Caring for our veterans is personal for me and I believe it is a moral obligation for our country to provide the best care possible for those who served our nation.
For far too long the Veterans' Affairs (VA) healthcare system has been underfunded and ignored. Our VA medical centers are understaffed, care is not accessible to many, wait times for appointments are exceeding long, and facilities are outdated. Recent accomplishments in expanding the ability of veterans to receive care outside of the VA system is a positive step forward, but much work remains. The suicide rate among veterans remains unacceptably high even though we have effective prevention and intervention programs. The conversion of paper medical records to an electronic medical record system, which would speed coordination of care, has been agonizingly slow. Prescription medications can be difficult to obtain and not delivered in an expedient manner. Highly effective treatment options for those experiencing post-traumatic stress injury/disorder (PTSI/D) are available, but not accessible to many veterans.
Our country must do more to help veterans adjust to civilian life following discharge. Predatory educational companies have targeted veterans to take advantage of their GI bill benefits, stigma can make it difficult for combat veterans to find jobs, and family strife can accompany those adjusting to civilian life. Solving these problems are possible with political will and negotiation, and I am dedicated to finding practical solutions to these issues.