I am advocating that Congressman Jack Bergman and Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters cosponsor and show continued support for H.R. 5516 and S. 3020 (Commitment to Veteran Support and Outreach Act or CVSO Act) through any and all avenues applicable to their position in representing Michigan residents as congresspersons and as American citizens.
According to veterans affairs statistics, 20 veterans will take their own lives today and every day after today — one of who will actively have access and be using VA programs like health care, mental health care and disability compensation. Three of these veterans will not have had access within a couple of months, and 16 of the 20 veterans will have never had access to VA benefits.
Michigan has long been bottom of the barrel for veteran benefits and currently continues that sad tradition with some slight improvement over the last 10 years. Congressman Bergman and Sens. Stabenow and Peters as federal legislators must assist in passing H.R. 5516 and S. 3020, as these bills would assist in funding county veteran service offices in their efforts to help veteran, their dependents and surviving spouses in gaining access to benefits through Veterans Affairs.
Veteran service officers throughout the state of Michigan have continuously done their best to find those hard-to- reach veterans and in some ways, they have been able to succeed, but no organization can do a perfect job. Veteran service officers and their offices often go understaffed and underfunded. Veteran service officers oftentimes fall short of their goals of being able to access the hard-to-reach places in their area of operation.
Veteran service officers have long been the middle man/woman for veterans, their dependents and surviving spouses to get connected with VA benefits, state-offered benefits and locally-offered benefits. This assistance could expand exponentially if the CVSO Act was passed in the Senate and the House of Representatives, but it cannot do so until our legislators start putting in the effort that is required. H.R 5516 and S. 3020 have sat at the House without being passed since they were introduced in mid-December.
First, we need Congressmen Bergman, Sen. Stabenow and Sen. Peters to cosponsor and continue supporting H.R.5516 and S. 3020 in the Congress and in the Senate.
Second, we need Congressmen Bergman, Sen. Stabenow and Sen. Peters to advocate that other Congress members and Senate members cosponsor and promote this bill.
Third, we need Congressmen Bergman, Sens. Stabenow and Peters to start publicly advocating for this bill to be passed in Congress.
About the author: Lucas Clark is a veteran service officer with the Grand Traverse County Department of Veterans Affairs. He is vice president of the Grand Traverse Area Veterans Coalition, part of the Quality of Life Pillar Chair Region 2 Veterans Community Action Team and a board member of the Drew Kostic Memorial 5K.