From the office of Sen. Joe Manchin:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In honor of Veterans Day, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, D-WV, encouraged West Virginians to recognize the sacrifices and contributions and thank our nation’s Veterans not just on Veterans Day, but every day.
Thursday, Sen.Manchin celebrated Veterans Day at Capital High School in Charleston, where he also awarded a Purple Heart to the family of West Virginia Veteran, John Himelrick.
“I’ve always said that West Virginia is one of the most patriotic states in the country,” Sen. Manchin said. “Time and time again throughout our country’s history, West Virginians have been at the forefronts of our fights for liberty, justice, and peace. These are our neighbors, family members, co-workers, and friends. Most importantly, they are our fellow Americans. We shouldn’t honor these brave men and women just once a year, though. Showing our appreciation is something we should do each and every day. As a nation, we should show our gratitude to our veterans by providing whatever they need when they return home. I am pleased with the progress we are making for our state and nation’s Veterans, but we’ve got more work to do. Too many of our Veterans are homeless, jobless, and without access to adequate healthcare. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues on the Veterans Affairs and Armed Services Committees to make sure that this country keeps its promises to our Veterans and provides our service members with the care, benefits and services they have earned and deserve.
“We owe those who have served and their families an eternal debt of gratitude for their sacrifices. As West Virginians and Americans across our great nation celebrate Veterans Day, I encourage us all to thank a Veteran. It is because of them that America remains a beacon of hope and liberty for people across the world. It is because of them that I am inspired for my work. May God continue to bless our Veterans and may He bless the United States of America and the state of West Virginia.”
As a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs and the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Manchin has worked tirelessly to address Veterans issues and make improvements to ensure West Virginia’s Veterans are well-served. His recent actions on behalf of Veterans have included:
- Helped over 10,000 West Virginia Veterans with their individual Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) or Department of Defense claims, or with Veteran related issues.
- Successfully urged the U.S. Navy to name a Navy ship after Medal of Honor recipient and renowned West Virginian, Hershel “Woody” Williams.
- Raised $90,000 for the West Virginia National Guard Foundation to honor Gold Star Families by hosting two Ride for Fallen Service Heroes.
- Proudly works alongside the WV National Guard, to include during the June 2016 flood and all other state emergencies, and advocates for all WV National Guard priorities
- Formed a Veterans Advisory Group from Veterans across the state to help advise on issues facing our state.
- Hosted VA Secretary Robert McDonald in West Virginia for a statewide tour concentrated on finding solutions to the challenges Mountain State Veterans are currently facing.
- Successfully coordinated, along with the Fisher House and the Department of Defense, the payment of death gratuity benefits to families of the Fallen during the government shutdown
- Ensured that the Greenbrier Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) would reopen by bringing Secretary McDonald to Greenbrier County, and securing his commitment to reopening the clinic. Senator Manchin continues to work with VA to reopen the facility and save thousands of West Virginia Veterans from driving several hours to seek treatment.
- Worked with the Fisher House and Ken Fisher, as well as the Department of Veterans Affairs, to secure a Fisher House at the Huntington VA Medical Center
- Has nominated nearly 200 West Virginia students to the military service academies, and has worked with ROTC and the WV National Guard to enroll West Virginia students in their programs
- Proudly works on behalf of Veterans to request long overdue military commendations for service members, to include a Purple Heart for Korean Prisoner of War Willie Lewis, and a Bronze Star and Purple Heart for World War II Combat Veteran John Hemelrick
- Coordinated the first ever Senate Veterans Affairs Caseworker Conference, which allowed caseworkers from all over the country to come together and voice their constituents’ concerns with VA leaders and to share best practices on how to better serve our nation’s veterans.
- Worked with the VA, the Beckley VA Medical Center, and West Virginia Veterans such as Al Hancock to bring both a Mobile Health Clinic and a permanent VA clinic to Princeton. The facility opened in June 2015.
- Original co-sponsor of the bipartisan Veterans First Act, which is an omnibus bill that includes accountability provisions, and makes significant improvements to veterans’ healthcare and benefits.
- Original co-sponsor of the Appeals Modernization Act of 2016, which streamlines the veterans benefits appeals process so that veterans can receive the benefits they deserve more quickly.
- Launched the Post-9/11 Veterans Caucus to address the challenges that the new generation of post-9/11 Veterans face when entering the job market. Hosted a Post-9/11 Veterans caucus event in Washington on agriculture programs available to help veterans, and featured the West Virginia Veterans and Warriors to Agriculture project.
- Formed the bipartisan Congressional Veterans Jobs Caucus to urge employers to hire Veterans and to reduce the high rate of unemployment for Veterans, resulting in the “I Hire Veterans” initiative.
- Believes in and supports the “I Hire Veterans” initiative by employing Veterans to work in his State and Washington DC offices.
- Cosponsored the Jason Simcakoski Memorial Opioid Safety Act to address problematic overprescribing practices and provide safer and more effective pain management services to our nation’s Veterans. It was signed into law last summer as part of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (P.L. xxx).
- Addressed serious concerns with the implementation of the Veterans Choice Program. The VA subsequently decided to change the calculation used to determine the distance between a Veteran’s home and the nearest VA medical facility.
- Introduced the Homeless Veterans Prevention Act of 2015 to build on existing homeless Veterans’ programs at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
- Introduced the Veterans Access to Extended Care Act to allow Veterans greater access to long-term care (LTC) services in their home communities.
- Introduced the 21st Century Veterans Benefits Delivery Act to create a system that can withstand surges in disability claims without generating another Veteran disability claims backlog.
- Introduced the Veterans Small Business Opportunity and Protection Act to protect spouses and dependents of Veteran-owned small businesses after servicemembers pass away from a disability or in the line of duty.
- Addressed the significant inadequacies in the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) Fiduciary Program.