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Congressman Peter DeFazio

Representing the 4th District of OREGON

Veterans Issues

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.

Major Accomplishments

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.

More on Veterans Issues

Aug 21, 2019 Press Release

U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-04) today sent letters to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, calling on the agencies to be better partners in the effort to recruit and retain quality health care workers for the Roseburg VA Healthcare System (RVAHCS). Last week, staffing shortfalls within RVAHCS forced the abrupt closure of the Roseburg Emergency Department (ED) and conversion to an Urgent Care (UC) facility, leaving Roseburg-area veterans with few immediate medical care options after 8pm on weekdays and on weekends.

Aug 6, 2019 Press Release

Rep. Peter DeFazio today sent a letter to VA Roseburg Healthcare System (VARHS) Director Keith Allen expressing concerns with the recent decision to accelerate the closure of the medical center’s Emergency Department and convert  the facility to an Urgent Care clinic as soon as August 16, 2019.

DeFazio writes,

May 16, 2018 Press Release

Today, Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-04) testified before the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs calling for reform and stronger oversight of veterans’ health care facilities following pervasive mismanagement and patient care problems at VA Roseburg Healthcare System (VARHS). DeFazio targeted the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) regional health system managers at Veterans Integrated Service Networks (VISN).

Mar 20, 2018 Press Release

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) last week sent Veterans’ Affairs (VA) Secretary David Shulkin a letter urging him to make significant changes to the structure and focus of the agency.

The letter pressed Shulkin to restructure or abolish Veterans Integrated Service Networks (VISNs), the VA’s regional authorities which oversee health centers across the country.

Mar 15, 2018 Press Release

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) today introduced two bills that would ensure family members get the full survivors’ benefits they are entitled to after the death of a veteran or Social Security beneficiary.

Mar 1, 2018 Press Release

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)’s Office of the Medical Inspector (OMI) today released a summary of findings following an investigation initiated by Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-04) into allegations of mismanagement and substandard patient care within the Roseburg VA Healthcare System (VARHS).

Feb 6, 2018 Press Release

Rep. Peter DeFazio today urged VA Secretary David Shulkin to investigate troubling reports of continued retaliation against whistleblowers within the VA Roseburg Healthcare System (VARHS).

Despite multiple ongoing VA investigations, requested by DeFazio, into mismanagement, whistleblower retaliation, and poor patient care at VARHS, DeFazio has continued to receive reports of retaliation and abuse against whistleblowers.

Feb 1, 2018 Press Release

EUGENE—Rep. Peter DeFazio today released the following statement on the resignation of VA Roseburg Healthcare System (VARHS) Director Doug Paxton:

“I have repeatedly pushed for a change in leadership at VARHS, and I am pleased to see that the Veterans Administration (VA) has taken my concerns seriously. This, along with other recent leadership changes and support from the VA are signals that the VA is committed to improving the deeply-entrenched issues at our Roseburg and Eugene facilities. But these are just steps in a longer process.

Nov 9, 2017 Press Release

Rep. Peter DeFazio today announced that investigators from the VA Office of the Medical Inspector will be returning to the Roseburg and Eugene VA facilities next week.

The investigators will be interviewing dozens of VA staff regarding a number of issues, including mismanagement of personnel, alleged threats to patient safety, and the standard of medical care at both facilities. The investigators previously visited the Roseburg and Eugene facilities in October.

Oct 12, 2017 Press Release

Rep. Peter DeFazio today blasted the continuing leadership failures within the Veterans Administration (VA) and specifically called on officials to change the management system at the VA Roseburg Health Care System (VARHS).