Amata Highlights Active Week of Veterans Legislation in the House

November 8, 2017
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Wednesday, Congresswoman Aumua Amata highlighted a week of veterans’ legislative activity as the nation prepares to observe Veterans Day this weekend.

This week, the House passed a bill (H.R. 3656) sponsored by Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana, with Congresswoman Aumua Amata as the sole cosponsor, that would help family members of veterans have a place in cemeteries with their loved ones. Specifically, the bill establishes a consistent applicability date for VA provision of memorial headstones and markers for eligible family members of veterans who die on or after November 11, 1998, so that in these cases, the family member can be buried or interred with their loved one according to their wishes. More details of this bill are here.

Amata with veterans discussing access to VA health care. Our veterans often have to travel to Honolulu for health servicesAmata with veterans, including Mata'u, Fa'asala, Tauai Suiaunoa, discussing access to VA health care. Our veterans often must travel to Honolulu for health services.

Congresswoman Amata is an original cosponsor of two veterans’ bills introduced since Nov. 3:

The VA AIR Act is bill to examine Veterans Health Administration assets, which would fulfill one of the major recommendations made by a bipartisan Commission on Care, which urged the creation of an unbiased, non-partisan panel to thoroughly look at the VA’s health infrastructure, and discover where resources can better focus on underserved veterans.

“The VA has enormous responsibility for infrastructure throughout the nation, and this bill creates a better way to review how those assets are serving veterans and what improvements can be made,” said Aumua Amata. “I’m pleased to support this effort to ensure veterans funding is well spent on the services our veterans need most, and I appreciate Chairman Roe and the Members of this Committee for their commitment to getting the most for our veterans out of these resources."

The bipartisan VA Care in the Community Act, introduced by Chairman Phil Roe, to improve community care options. On Friday, Congresswoman Amata announced her support and cosponsoring of this effort to streamline veteran access to community care, previously handled under the CHOICE Program, including more options and removal of the 30-day, 40-mile requirement.

“Veterans in American Samoa often have difficulty accessing the quality care they deserve because of both the price of medical services and the travel to facilities,” continued Congresswoman Amata. “I’m pleased that the legislative agenda in Congress reflects a growing awareness of the need for lower costs, more options, and better care in remote areas.”

Amata and local veterans with Jennifer Gutowski - Director of the U.S. VA Pacific Islands Healthcare System-001Amata with local veterans and Jennifer Gutowski – Director of US VA Pacific Islands Healthcare

Other bipartisan veterans’ bills that passed the House of Representatives this week:

The VA Management Alignment Act of 2017, H.R. 1066, would require VA to submit a report regarding the roles, responsibility, and accountability of elements and individuals of VA, using the findings of the Independent Assessment, the Commission on Care, and relevant GAO reports as resources.

The Veterans Care Financial Protection Act of 2017, H.R. 3122, directs VA to work with federal agencies and states to develop and implement standards that protect individuals who are eligible for this increased pension from dishonest, predatory or otherwise unlawful practices.

H.R. 3562, a bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to furnish assistance for adaptations of residences of veterans in rehabilitation programs.

H.R. 3657, a bill to expand authority for the VA to provide headstones and markers to eligible spouses and dependents buried or interred in tribal veterans’ cemeteries.

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