Congressman DeFazio firmly believes the federal government is obligated to properly care for the men and women who serve in our nation’s armed forces. Throughout his time in Congress, he has fought to ensure that the United States makes good on that promise. In recent years Congress has passed long overdue funding increases for the VA, and Congressman DeFazio has insisted that these changes translate into better service for Oregon veterans.
Part of Congressman DeFazio’s commitment to Oregon veterans is one-on-one assistance with their benefits. Congressman DeFazio has two full-time staff members in his Eugene district office devoted to helping veterans navigate the VA system. He urges veterans to call his Eugene office at 1-800-944-9603 if they need assistance.
Congressman DeFazio served in the United States Air Force Reserve from June 1967 until his honorable discharge with the rank of 2nd Lt. on March 30, 1971.
Roseburg VA Medical Center
When service cuts were proposed at the Roseburg VA Medical Center, Congressman DeFazio stood up and demanded that no changes be made without the input of local veterans. Congressman DeFazio understands that VA bureaucrats do not always know what is best for Oregon veterans, and has worked to make sure that veterans in Southwest Oregon have a say in the healthcare they receive. Eugene and Springfield Community Based Outpatient Clinic
Congressman DeFazio was instrumental in securing funding for a new veterans clinic in the Eugene and Springfield area after it became apparent the existing clinic was too small to adequately serve the growing veteran population. In 2014, the VA broke ground on the new100,000 square-foot facility, which is expected to provide care for 16,000 veterans when it opens in 2016.
Serving Veterans in Rural Areas
Congressman DeFazio also played a key role in securing funding for VA clinics in North Bend and Brookings. This has helped to ensure that veterans on the Oregon coast are able to access basic medical services that they need without having to travel to Roseburg or Portland. However, this has not solved all of the issues for veterans living outside of urban areas, which is why Congressman DeFazio urged the VA to give veterans greater flexibility to choose where they receive care. Thanks to a major VA overhaul bill passed in 2014 and new rules instituted in 2015, veterans have better access to care. Congressman DeFazio will continually be monitoring the VA to ensure its acting in the best interests of all veterans, no matter where they reside.
Getting Veterans the Medals They Deserve
Congressman DeFazio has been honored to present more than 30 World War II veterans in Southwestern Oregon with the Bronze Star medals they earned during their service to this country. All U.S. Army veterans who received either the Combat Infantry Badge (CIB) or Combat Medic Badge (CMB) during the war are eligible for the Bronze Star medal for meritorious combat service.
Many veterans of all eras are not aware that they are eligible for the honors they earned. Whether it is a campaign medal from Korea, or a Purple Heart earned in Afghanistan, the Congressman’s staff can help veterans or their family members initiate a request as well as help locate the official documents required to prove medal eligibility. Please call Congressman DeFazio’s Eugene office at 541-465-6732 or 1-800-944-9603 for information and/or assistance.
Fighting for Disabled Veterans Benefits
The last thing that a disabled veteran should be forced to deal with is a bureaucratic battle between the Pentagon and the VA regarding their pay. Congressman DeFazio has cosponsored legislation that would finally allow all disabled veterans to receive both their VA and Department of Defense (DoD) retirement pay.
Currently, veterans who receive DoD retirement pay and less than 50 percent VA Service-connected disability compensation are not eligible for both payments under the concurrent receipt laws. New legislation would allow veterans to receive both types of benefits. It would also eliminate phasing in requirements of concurrent receipt, which stalls veterans from the benefits that they’ve already earned.
Military Surviving Spouses
Currently, veterans can elect to use a portion of their retirement pay for a survivors benefit annuity account, or “Survivor Benefit Plan,” that would ensure financial security for their loved ones if they pass away. Under current rules, even if a veteran who has elected a Survivor Benefit Plan passes away under certain VA qualifying criteria, current laws disqualify them from receiving the full DoD and VA compensation they have been promised. This is unacceptable. Congressman DeFazio cosponsored the Military Surviving Spouses Equity Act. The bill ensures that military spouses receive the money set aside by the veteran and the full benefits they were promised by repealing this bureaucratic rule.
Improving Mental Health Benefits
Congressman DeFazio has long fought for improved mental health resources for our nation’s veterans. He strongly supported $5.2 billion in advanced funding for 2011 for mental health services to help veterans suffering from conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and traumatic brain injury. He supported the COMBAT PTSD Act which establishes military service in a combat zone as the standard for a presumptive stressor for the incurrence of PTSD and was pleased that the VA adopted similar standards. This lowered the bureaucracy that prevented many veterans from receiving compensation and care for PTSD. Congressman DeFazio also supports legislation that would extend those same benefits to veterans who have PTSD as a result of military sexual trauma.