September 08, 2014

Together We Can Guide Meaningful Veterans Policy Reform

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

Throughout the past month, I have invited Idahoans to provide input about their experiences with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) through participating in a short survey.  The input gathered through the survey is meant to help guide my advocacy for meaningful policy changes that will best ensure quality VA services for Idaho veterans.  Through the survey, I am receiving valuable insight into the experiences of Idaho veterans.  There is still time to participate in the survey through September 30, 2014.

So far, I have received more than 800 survey responses with a wide range of opinions about the services and benefits available through the VA.  Idahoans have shared their experiences with health care, claims processing and educational benefits.  Many Idahoans have shared very personal experiences with me:  I appreciate the thoughtful suggestions and insights of these individuals.  Nineteen percent of survey participants have asked for further assistance with VA-related issues.  I will continue to review the survey feedback and work to help those Idahoans who have contacted me in need of assistance with personal care issues.  I encourage the participation of Idahoans who have not had the opportunity to complete the survey.

The brief survey is meant to be a straightforward, uncomplicated and not time-consuming way for Idahoans to help guide reform efforts.  We must address the VA's shortcomings while being careful not to harm programs that work well.  Sharing both positive and negative VA experiences is critical to making carefully thought out adjustments that will truly improve care. 

There is still time and multiple ways to complete the brief survey through whatever means is most convenient.  Veterans can take the survey online through my website at https://www.crapo.senate.gov/contact/survey.cfmand through the Idaho Division of Veterans Services.  Veterans can also call one of my officesto have a staff member administer the survey.  The following phone numbers can be used to reach my offices:  Washington, DC (202) 224-6142; Idaho State Office (Boise) 208-334-1776; South-Central Idaho (Twin Falls) (208) 734-2515; North Idaho (Coeur d'Alene) (208) 664-5490; Eastern Idaho, North (Idaho Falls) (208) 522-9779; North-Central Idaho (Lewiston) (208) 743-1492; Eastern Idaho, South (Pocatello) (208) 236-6775.  Additionally, Idahoans are welcome to visit any of my regional officesto take the survey in person.  Friends and families of veterans are also welcome to take the survey to share their experiences.  Idahoans in need of specific assistance in dealing with the VA or other federal agencies and navigating programs may also contact my office for further assistance through the survey or separately.

Congress recently passed VA-reform legislation.  Federal agencies must now act, and the willingness of Idaho's veterans to assist with improving the care and service they receive is critical to ensuring that the new legislation helps.  The nation must keep its commitment to them for putting their lives on the line to protect our freedom.  Please continue to provide input as we work together to ensure our country honors the service of our nation's veterans.  

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