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Congressman Gus Bilirakis

Representing the 12th District of Florida

Bilirakis Spearheads Efforts to Improve the Lives of Veterans

May 9, 2018
Press Release

Washington, DC:  As Vice-Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, Congressman Bilirakis has been intricately involved in negotiating several high profile pieces of legislation aimed at improving the lives of Veterans.  Yesterday, several of these bills passed favorably out of the VA committee.  Chief among them is a bill that will rectify a decades-long injustice that has been perpetrated against Blue Water Navy Veterans.  This small group of Veterans has been excluded from presumptive status for Agent Orange exposure which has kept them from receiving the medical care and benefits which they have earned and rightfully deserve.  This situation has caused great hardship for these Veterans and their families, many of which live in Bilirakis’s district, which is why he has fought tirelessly for a solution.  “This was an important and long over-due step forward in the fight to get justice for these heroes,” said Congressman Bilirakis.  “But we are not finished.  I will continue to shepherd this bill throughout the remainder of the legislative process,” he added.  The Committee also passed legislation that made significant improvements to the Choice program, empowering Veterans with the opportunity to seek private care within their community when the VA is unable to meet their needs in a timely manner. “I believe in a strong VA system of care,” said Congressman Bilirakis.  “However, Veterans deserve the chance to choose an alternative when the VA is not meeting their needs,” he added.  Additionally, the Committee advanced Congressman Bilirakis’s SITREP bill which keeps Veterans from being penalized when their school receives a late payment from the VA when processing their GI benefits. “Veterans should not suffer due to bureaucratic red tape,” Congressman Bilirakis explained.  Finally, in a much anticipated move, the Committee approved legislation that makes significant improvements to and expands eligibility for the VA Caregiver Support Program.  “Today was a good day for our nation’s heroes.  All of these initiatives will help improve the lives of those who have sacrificed so much on behalf of our country,” noted Congressman Bilirakis when speaking after the hearing.