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House OKs bill to boost veterans funding, VA reforms


The U.S. House passed a bipartisan funding bill Thursday to increase resources for America’s veterans and continue reforms at the Department of Veterans Affairs, said Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., who strongly supported the bill.

“We as a nation owe our freedom to the men and women who have served in uniform,” Walden said. This legislation boosts funding for important veterans services, helping to ensure they receive the care and benefits they have earned through years of service. They deserve nothing less.”

“Our bill also continues efforts to bring the VA into the 21 st century. It contains important funding for reforms, including speeding up claims processing and modernizing electronic health records.”

The bill increases discretionary spending for veterans programs by 5.6 percent over last year’s level, including funding for mental health, traumatic brain injury and homeless veterans. It would help the claims backlog by providing an additional $163 million in funding for VA claims processing.

The bill also includes $233 million in funding for modernizing the VA’s electronic health record system. Click here for more info on the bill.

Walden has two veterans on staff who assist Oregonians with problems at the VA, and he has already assisted over 5,000 veterans and their families. For help, please call Walden’s office at 800-533-3303 or visit his website at

Walden has been meeting with veterans in the 2nd District — including in Bend, Sisters, and The Dalles over the past few weeks — about ways to ensure that veterans get the care and benefits they have earned through the VA.

He has also listened to concerns about the implementation of the new Veterans Choice program, which helps veterans obtain care from private non-VA providers. He will continue these conversations in Medford on Saturday during a meeting with the Medford Heroes Breakfast, a group of southern Oregon veterans.

For example, the law says that a veteran living more than 40 miles from a VA medical facility may go outside the system for care.

Originally, the agency had calculated that 40-mile distance ‘as the crow flies’ instead of the distance it took to drive there. After congressional pressure from Walden and his colleagues, the VA announced recently that it would rely on actual driving distance from a VA medical facility as the qualifier for eligibility for the Veterans Choice program.

Walden has been a strong supporter of veterans legislation in the House, including the recently-passed Clay Hunt SAV Act to help combat veterans suicides. The bipartisan legislation was signed into law by the president earlier this year.

Walden also strongly supported the “Hire More Heroes” Act, passed by the House in January, that would help veterans find jobs by ensuring that employers aren’t penalized for hiring them due to a mandate in the new health care law.

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