With many veterans facing hours long commutes to different states to determine benefits, Congressman Rose calls for telehealth and expanded exam locations
STATEN ISLAND, NY – January 25, 2020 — Following up on concerns raised at his recent Veterans Town Hall, Congressman Max Rose, Member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, called on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide greater flexibility and expand options for veterans to undergo compensation and pension (C&P) exams, which determine critical benefits veterans rely on.
“Veterans shouldn’t have their benefits be held hostage by horribly scheduled, out-of-state appointments,” said Rose, an Army combat veteran. “The VA needs to work for our veterans, not the other way around—and I won’t stop pushing until we can find a solution to ease the burden around C&P exams.”
Rose urged VA to expand telehealth services for C&P exams, as oftentimes veterans do not require physical examinations or lab work for their exams. Rose also proposed expanding access within Veterans Health Administration (VHA) facilities, such as the Brooklyn Campus of the VA New York Harbor Healthcare System or the Staten Island Community VA Clinic, to administer more C&P exams.
“It is unthinkable that we would penalize veterans by making them travel untenable distances to receive their required exam, and further delay them from receiving the benefits that they are owed and deserve,” wrote Rose in a letter to Dr. Paul R. Lawrence, VA’s Undersecretary for Benefits. “At a veteran’s town hall I held on Staten Island in December, veterans described the hardships faced when confronted with a 2+ hour drive each way with no way to reach their designated exam site. More veterans spoke up about the unreliability of C&P notifications, forcing them to make last-minute travel arrangements or risk their claim status. I refuse to stand by while our nation’s heroes from my district are stuck with impossible choices.”
At Rose’s Veterans Town Hall in December, veterans expressed concern with C&P exams taking place far from their homes, many times in different states—issues which Rose committed to address at the national level.
Rose has made fighting for veterans a top priority. Earlier this month, Rose joined VA Secretary Robert Wilkie for a tour of the Staten Island Community VA Clinic where they met with veteran patients and staff, and discussed their efforts to ensure veterans receive the highest quality of care and treatment.
Rose passed his Breaking Barriers for Women Veterans Act through the House of Representatives last November as part of a larger package of proposals to improve care for women veterans, which will require the Department of VA to take steps to ensure that its healthcare facilities have the proper fixtures, materials, and staffing to provide proper care and support to an increasing population of female veterans. Additionally, Rose successfully passed an amendment to the Veterans Access to Child Care Act to expand childcare coverage from the VA to apply to veterans seeking treatment for addiction.
Following feedback from local veterans concerned with a lack of transportation options to VA appointments, Rose helped secure language in the VA funding bill to prioritize transportation assistance for veterans. Rose’s office also has started hosting Veterans Service Days for local veterans in his Staten Island office.
Full text of letter HERE.
SOURCE: Jonas Edwards-Jenks | Communications Director | Congressman Max Rose