Across America, millions of brave men and women have served in our nation’s armed services. They have left behind their families, friends and jobs to fight for our way of life around the world. These veterans deserve the best we have to offer when they decide to take off their uniforms and return to civilian life. I consider it one of my top priorities to work for our patriotic veterans to ensure they receive the health care, housing and educational benefits that they and their families deserve.
Tools for Veteran Job-Seekers
The Department of Veterans Affairs has developed a tool to help veterans access official information about their health records, military training and experience. This tool allows veterans to manage their VA health care online and compile critical service records that can help them to job search or in their careers. For more information, please click here.
Helping Veterans Achieve Financial Stability
Every year, thousands of troops return home from deployments overseas prepared to separate from military service and begin their civilian lives. Many of these service members have spent their brief military service in the structured atmosphere of a military base and have never had an opportunity to find reasonably priced housing, manage day-to-day bills associated with living on a civilian income, or have yet to start saving for their futures. This inexperience managing basic financial responsibilities puts both veterans and their families at a significant risk of foreclosure and unmanageable debt.
I authored the Military Families Financial Preparedness Act to help military families achieve long-term financial stability upon returning to civilian life. This bill added a financial counseling component to the Department of Defense’s successful pre-separation counseling program, which has helped veterans and their spouses become familiar with important VA programs and better prepared them to seek an education and start a civilian career. Under this legislation, pre-separation counseling sessions include information on budgets, saving, credit, and mortgages and will help veterans and their spouses to create a long-term financial plan.
This legislation passed the House as an amendment to the FY 2012 National Defense Authorization Act and was signed into law by President Obama.
Improving Mental Health Treatment
Today, our Armed Services continue to struggle with the stigma associated with mental illness despite ongoing efforts at the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs to increase screening, counseling and awareness. Too often, service members resist treatment and hide warning signs, attributing underperformance in combat and difficulty readjusting to civilian life to less serious causes. In many tragic cases, undiagnosed mental illness and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) have resulted in domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse and suicide.
In an effort to improve mental health screenings and treatment, I authored the Service Members Mental Health Screening Act and the Military Suicide Reduction Act. Together these bills ensure that service members receive mandatory pre, mid, and post-deployment that holistically address past diagnoses and treatments and initiate treatment in combat, where many mental health challenges are likely to originate. I also authored the Military Mental Health Improvement Act, which ensures that service members are aware of their privacy rights when pursuing mental health treatment. This aims to avoid the common misperception that treatment will negatively impact career progression, dissuading service members from pursuing the help they need.
These bills passed the House and were signed into law by President Obama as amendments to the FY 2012 and FY 2014 National Defense Authorization Acts.
Improving VA Services
Our veterans have sacrificed to protect this nation in times of great need and we have an obligation to provide them with the benefits they were promised. That is why the 2014 revelation that at least forty veterans died waiting for care at the Phoenix VA Medical Center was so disturbing. Veterans deserve better than this and there is no reason that we cannot successfully provide it to them.
Since initial details first emerged, I was strongly supportive of the investigation into inappropriate and dishonest scheduling practices at VA facilities across the country. I raised questions to the Secretary of the VA about the Roudebush VA Medical Center in Indianapolis, not out of suspicion but because I wanted to ensure that Hoosier veterans were receiving the care they need. While I supported legislation to enable veterans to pursue care outside of the VA when faced with long wait times, I believe it warrants strong oversight to ensure that veterans receive the level of care they deserve.
Assisting Unemployed Veterans
Over the last several years, veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have been demonstrating the wide array of unique qualifications they bring to the workplace, resulting in a significant drop in unemployment. Despite this progress, the veterans unemployment rate remains far too high. More needs to be done to help veterans translate the skills and leadership experience gained in the military to civilian jobs.
The Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Labor are working together with employers across the country to promote veterans hiring initiatives and job training. To complement their efforts, I voted for legislation to establish job training programs for veterans. Those who have served bravely in our nation’s military deserve our help retraining for the modern American workforce.
Improving G.I. Benefits
Immediately following WWII, over 7.8 million veterans were able to obtain college and post-secondary educations free of charge. Today, these benefits only cover 70% of public and 30% of private post-secondary educational expenses, making it difficult for many veterans to afford a college education.
To ensure that veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan receive full educational benefits, I proudly voted to pass the 21st Century G.I. Bill, which will provide full, four year scholarships to all who have served in our nation’s Armed Forces since September 11, 2001. This drastic and long overdue increase in educational benefits will help our newest generation of veterans receive the tools they need to build productive and successful lives for themselves and their families after leaving the military.
Providing Veterans with Adequate Housing
Disability and unemployment resulting from extended deployments have caused an unacceptably high number of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans to fall into foreclosure and homelessness. In order of support our veterans returning from combat, I voted for legislation that increases the number of homeownership loans available to veterans and boosts funding for counseling services and other resources to help our nation's homeless veterans.
More on Veterans
This week as we commemorate the 61st Anniversary of Veterans Day, I’d like to reflect on what General Douglas MacArthur said during a speech: “The soldier, above all others, is required to practice the greatest act of religious training—sacrifice.” That sacrifice is embodied in extraordinary Hoosiers who have worn the uniform of the United States of America.
January 3, 2011
President Obama Signs into Law Two Bills Authored by Rep. André Carson
Carson Amendments Provide Significant Improvements to Programs Serving Military Families
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Over the weekend, President Barack Obama signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, a bill that includes two amendments authored by Congressman André Carson (D-IN).
On November 15, Congressman André Carson joined members of the Indiana Congressional Delegation to request that the Prisoner of War/Missing in Action flag be flown at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
July 6, 2011
CARSON praises white house for change in condolence letter policy
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman André Carson released the following statement today in response to President Obama's decision to reverse the White House policy of not sending condolence letters to the next-of-kin of service members who commit suicide.
May 26, 2011
HOUSE PASSES CARSON amendments
Additions will expand mental health screenings, assistance for soldiers
May 25, 2011
Carson amendment PROTECTS SERVICE MEMBERs’ MENTAL HEALTH
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the House of Representatives passed an amendment authored by Congressman André Carson that will improve mental health assessments for members of the U.S. military.
February 16, 2011
CARSON'S OFFICE DELIVERS VALENTINES TO VETERANS
INDIANAPOLIS - Staff from the Office of Congressman André Carson delivered approximately 500 valentines from area schools to veterans at the Roudebush VA Medical Center in Indianapolis today.
The event gathers and delivers valentines made by school children to hospitalized veterans and began 14 years ago when Congresswoman Julia Carson represented the Indianapolis area.
November 30, 2010
CARSON: DEADLINE FOR RETROACTIVE STOP-LOSS PAY NEARS
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today Congressman André Carson urged eligible veterans and beneficiaries to apply for the retroactive stop-loss pay owed to them before the upcoming December 3rd deadline.
Eligible military personnel whose service was extended under stop-loss orders will receive $500 for each month of their extended service.
October 20, 2010
CARSON TO PUSH FOR ONE-TIME PAYMENT TO AID SENIORS, VETERANS
INDIANAPOLIS - After the Social Security Administration (SSA) announced that it will not provide a Cost-of-Living-Adjustment (COLA) for 2011, Congressman André Carson said today that he will push for legislation to issue a one-time $500 payment to Social Security recipients.