Veterans are such a vital part of our community, and San Diego has one of the largest concentration of veterans in the nation, approximately 225,000. And every year, 15,000 more servicemembers muster out of the armed forces right here in San Diego. When these Americans volunteered to serve our country, we made a commitment to provide them with certain programs and benefits in exchange for their service. I will continue to work tirelessly to build a Congress that not only preserves our existing veterans programs, but improves and expands their reach to help our returning veterans adjust easily back to civilian life.

  • I voted to increase military pensions, cosponsored the Veterans Pension Protection Act, and continue to oppose privatizing veterans’ benefits. We made a promise that these benefits would always be there to assist those who served our country. At a time when too many active servicemembers and veterans are struggling to make ends meet, our focus must be on protecting and expanding benefits, not creating additional risks through privatizing these benefits.

  • I am committed to ensuring the VA has the resources and support to provide the absolute best possible level of service. It's immoral and unpatriotic that some veterans have to wait months for health care. I helped write a law that would reduce wait times on veterans health. I also introduced the 21st Century Care for Military & Veterans Act to make healthcare more accessible to rural veterans in order to improve available services and reduce overall costs, and voted for improved mental health funding and service levels. Moving forward, we must continue to make physical and mental health more affordable and accessible with better use of telehealth opportunities and additional funding for the VA.

  • I joined with military leaders, veterans advocates, and community stakeholders to create the Military Transition Support Project. With 15,000 servicemembers mustering out in San Diego every year, it’s critical to have a regional project like this to connect those veterans to medical support, job services, and other programs in the community for a smooth transition to civilian life. With success, this pilot program can become the model for how we receive servicemembers back into the community all across the country.

  • The unemployment rate for our veterans has recently fallen, but there’s still much more to do. It troubles me to know that the unemployment rate for Afghanistan and Iraq veterans aged 18 to 24 is much higher in San Diego than elsewhere, and well above unemployment for non-veterans. I introduced the Veterans Employment Transition (VETs) Act to provide incentives to businesses for hiring recently discharged veterans, and voted for improved on-the-job and apprenticeship programs through the VA. It’s a good start, but we need to continue our investment in job-training programs. I will continue to support programs that provide not just job training, but also help our service men and women re-enter their lives as husbands, fathers, mothers, and wives.

  • I support the GI Bill because it rewards young people eager to earn a college education in return for serving their country. I cosponsored the GI BIll Tuition Fairness Act to ensure veterans have access to in-state tuition rates, and the Veterans Education Equity Act to make sure that veterans get the same benefits whether they attend public or private institutions.

  • I have led the charge to improve access to mental health services for active duty soldiers and for veterans when they return home. I've helped recover more than a half a million dollars in earned benefits for our veterans and their families, giving them better access to health care, counseling, and job training, and I also voted for increased funding for mental health and PTSD treatment and research.

  • I am an advocate for affordable housing for veterans and military families. It’s estimated that there are more than 57,000 homeless veterans in this country on any given night -- and that’s unacceptable to me. I introduced the Shelter our Servicemembers Act to provide elderly veterans with affordable housing and wraparound services through a pilot program, and voted for the Homes for Heroes Act to create staff support to ensure veterans get fair access to housing and homeless assistance. I’ve also voted to expand foreclosure protections for veterans, to provide increased housing assistance for low-income, disabled veterans, and to make homeless veterans eligible for Department of Labor job training programs.

Our veterans need to know their Congressional representative will stand up, fight, and preserve these programs and benefits. When I arrived in Congress, it was clear that we had allowed far too many veterans in need to fall through the cracks. Our system isn’t perfect yet, but I’ve worked across the aisle to move forward with commonsense solutions, and we’ve begun to address the gaps and improve services. With continued cooperation, we can make sure that we’re ready with the services our veterans need and deserve as they return home.

You can read more about my record on Veterans issues here.