In his Second Inaugural Address near the end of the Civil War in 1865, President Abraham Lincoln urged his countrymen “to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan,” an admonition engraved on the side of the Veterans Administration headquarters in Washington, DC.
However, the VA has broken that promise to too many veterans. For years media reports have exposed the appalling details of gross dysfunction, mismanagement, and services denied to those who served our nation. The 400,000 employees of the VA system who witness this negligence should have confidence their complaints are being taken seriously. But according to a recent GAO report, incidents of whistleblower retaliation at the VA are growing. GAO states that: “Amid an uptick in all cases reported to the VA, whistleblower retaliation cases have increased from 577 in FY 2020 to 736 in FY 2023.” This is unacceptable as whistleblowers should be able to come forward and report misconduct without fear of reprisal.
When our men and women return from fighting battles overseas, many are physically and mentally scarred. More than 20 veterans per day take their lives, increasing the toll of casualties and anguish of families. Frank LaRose is the only candidate in the race for U.S. Senate who has seen the horror of war firsthand. His commitment to improving the VA is a continuation of the soldiers’ creed to never leave a comrade behind. Frank is proud to have earned the endorsement of the Combat Veterans for Congress PAC.
Frank enlisted in the United States Army out of high school and has served our country in uniform for more than 13 years. As a soldier currently serving in the Army reserves, Frank is a strong backer of programs to support our veterans. It is a personal issue in that so many of those Frank served with are currently benefiting from VA health care, mental health care, disability, and other services.
As Senator, Frank will support bipartisan efforts to remove, demote, or suspend poorly performing VA employees and managers; efforts allowing veterans to obtain medical and extended care services outside the VA system with a provider of their choice; and will back legislation to ensure that a member of the Armed Forces who receives a general discharge under honorable conditions on the sole basis of refusing the covid vaccine remains eligible for G.I. Bill education benefits and other benefits they earned.
Frank strongly backs modernizing VA programs to place a renewed emphasis on transitioning veterans, especially those not in need of health-related or VA disability services. He supports S. 291, bipartisan legislation supported by Sens. Marco Rubio, Rick Scott, and Ted Cruz to establish the Veterans Economic Opportunity and Transition Administration to administer economic opportunity assistance programs for veterans and their dependents and survivors. The new branch within VA would administer vocational rehabilitation and employment programs, educational assistance programs, veterans’ housing loans and related programs, and the Transition Assistance Program. According to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, “not all veterans seek VA health care when they are discharged… and they do not all seek disability compensation. However, the vast majority are looking for gainful employment and/or education. Congress should recognize the value of these programs by separating them into their own administration focused solely on their utilization and growth.”
Frank believes that for far too long the transition process has been mired in ineffective layers of bureaucracy causing gaps with veterans who fall through the systems’ cracks and end up in a spiral that places more weight on the healthcare system. From jobs, to training, to accessing local business forums seeking to hire veterans, any place Congress can improve transition problems upstream helps alleviate strains and lightens the load downstream.
Frank has the legislative track record to prove his commitment to his brothers and sisters in arms. As a state senator, Frank cosponsored legislation in 2014 to aid Ohio veterans who attend Ohio’s colleges or universities, waive fees associated with transferring military experience into college credits, requires schools to give priority to veterans when registering for classes, and authorizes the deferment or forgiveness of loans of veterans who are pursuing nursing degrees with assistance from Ohio’s Nurse Education Assistance Loan Program. Frank also cosponsored legislation to exempt veteran’s organizations from paying property taxes for their buildings used for meetings and programming for our military veterans.
Having made repeated overseas deployments, Frank knows the importance of supporting America’s war fighters when they return home. He knows firsthand the challenges facing the veteran population and as Senator will work ceaselessly to honor their service and sacrifice by making sure our warriors receive all the care and benefits that they have earned.