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Congressman Peter DeFazio

Representing the 4th District of OREGON

Veterans Issues

Congressman DeFazio firmly believes that it is an obligation of the federal government, not an option, to properly take care of the men and women who proudly 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 obligation. In recent years Congress has passed long overdue funding increases for the VA, and Congressman DeFazio has always insisted that these funds translate into better service for Oregon Veterans.

These men and women fought for their country. They should not have to fight the Veterans Administration for the benefits and services they earned. Congressman DeFazio has staff members in his Eugene district office devoted to helping veterans navigate the system.

Congressman DeFazio urges veterans to call his Eugene office at 1-800-944-9603 if they are having problems with the VA.

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.

Major Accomplishments

Roseburg VA Medical Center

Over the past several years Congress has increased funding for the VA. Now we need to make sure that this funding translates into proper health care and services for Oregon veterans. 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. Congressman DeFazio fought for over a year to restore needed medical services to Roseburg. The Roseburg VA will continue to offer the specialty services that veterans in Oregon deserve and Congressman DeFazio will continue to fight for the restoration of the ICU.

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. The current clinic is far too small to adequately serve the growing veteran population. Unfortunately the new has suffered from severe delays due to highly unusual architectural, parking, and property requirements mandated by the VA and contractors for the VA. This is unacceptable. Congressman DeFazio asked the Inspector General to review the VA’s extraordinarily lengthy contracting process that plagued the Eugene/Springfield clinic and others around the country. Unfortunately, the IG refuses to review the process. The Congressman is doing everything he can to pressure the VA to overcome delays and complete the much needed new clinic as quickly as possible.

Serving Coastal Vets

Congressman DeFazio played a key role in securing necessary funding for the North Bend and Brookings VA clinics.  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. 

Getting Veterans the Medals They Deserve

Congressman DeFazio has been honored to present over 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 can help veterans or their family members initiate a request and we can 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 is a cosponsor of H.R. 333, which 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% VA Service-connected disability compensation are not eligible for both payments under the concurrent receipt laws. HR 333 would allow veterans to receive both types of benefits. HR 333 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 “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 is a cosponsor of H.R. 178, 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 is also a cosponsor of H.R. 930, which would extend those same benefits to veterans who have PTSD as a result of military sexual trauma.

Rural Oregon Veterans

In order to ensure that veterans across rural Oregon are able to access the care that they have earned, Congressman DeFazio introduced H.R. 3358, the Troops' Soft Landing, Employment, and Rural Transportation Act. Among many other benefits for veterans, the bill authorizes the VA to establish a grant program to provide transportation to veterans in highly rural areas.

 

Must Reads

Albany veteran finally receives Purple Heart Democrat Herald April 27, 2011

Editorial: A Day Late for a Good Reason Democrat Herald January 11, 2011

Wyden, DeFazio alarmed over Roseburg VA service changes Roseburg News-Review April 14, 2010

WWII vet Glenn Butler receives Bronze Star Roseburg News-Review July 11, 2010

Local Veterans Receive Bronze Stars, Purple Heart KEZI News July 8, 2010