May 20, 2016
Washington, DC– Yesterday, U.S. Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52) helped pass the Military Construction & Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act, which funds and improves programs critical to supporting San Diego veterans and their families and strengthens military readiness. The bill goes a long way toward ensuring that America keeps its promises to our its veterans; it allows the VA to hire more mental health professionals, adds resources to eliminate the veterans claims backlog, and allocates tens of millions to help end veterans homelessness.
“It is a moral obligation that we keep our promises to our veterans; they and their families deserve more than just our gratitude for the sacrifices they’ve made in service to our country,” Rep. Peters said. “For years I have been working to fix the lack of adequate mental health care options for our veterans, and we took important steps to help them and their families overcome the unseen battle scars.
“I’ve heard the frustrations from too many San Diego veterans and from my staff who helps them navigate long waits for claims. This bill provides resources to tackle the claims backlog. I will continue working to ensure that all of our veterans get the care they deserve in a timely manner and the backing they need to make successful transitions to civilian life.”
One of the mental health provisions included largely mirrors legislation introduced by Rep. Peters, the Marriage and Family Therapists for Veterans Act, which would align state and federal guidelines to allow marriage and family therapists certified by regionally accredited programs to be considered for employment at VA medical centers. It also includes funding for the Veterans Crisis Line, the VA’s toll-free suicide hotline and the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Rep. Peters also expressed his outrage that House Republican Leadership bent the rules to prevent an amendment that would guarantee equal protections for LGBT Americans. While the provision initially looked like it would pass, seven lawmakers were cajoled into changing their votes long after the clock had expired, leading the amendment to fail by just a single vote.
Rep. Peters continued, “We had the chance to stand up to discrimination by ensuring that federal contractors who collect taxpayer dollars must treat all employees equally. Instead of standing for the values that drive our nation—the values our servicemembers defend every day—House Republicans instead chose to vote for hate. Just as the fight for equality didn’t end with the Supreme Court decision last summer, it will not end with this defeat. I will continue fighting to ensure that no American can be discriminated against because of who they are or who they love.”
Congressman Peters serves the 52nd District of California which covers much of central San Diego County including Poway, Coronado, and large portions of the City of San Diego. He is a member of the House Armed Services Committee and House Judiciary Committee. The Congressman is a former environmental attorney, City Council President, and Port Commission Chairman.