Amata Welcomes VA Secretary Wilkie’s Plan to Visit American Samoa
Washington, D.C. – Wednesday, Congresswoman Aumua Amata joined Members of both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives in a Joint Veterans Hearing at the Capitol. During this hearing, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie stated his intention to visit American Samoa, and lauded our many Pacific Islander Veterans living throughout a 4.5 million square mile expanse of the Pacific Region.
“I know American Samoa will be delighted to welcome VA Secretary Wilkie when he visits our Pacific Islander Veterans, and I appreciate his plan to see more of our Veterans’ circumstances firsthand,” said Aumua Amata. “We share the pride Secretary Wilkie expressed in the contributions our American Samoan and Pacific Islander Veterans make to our community. Their duties in our Armed Forces have ended, but their sense of service lasts a lifetime.”
Congresswoman Amata with Senate Veterans Chairman Johnny Isakson.
The hearing focused on the ongoing VA reform efforts resulting from the VA MISSION Act that are currently underway throughout the Department of Veterans Affairs. Congresswoman Amata cosponsored the House legislation, and the completed MISSION Act was signed into law in June and is being implemented, including reforms which will take years to complete, along with beginning prompt reforms to community care. VA reforms have been a widespread theme of the House Veterans Affairs Committee over the past year.
The hearing was led by Senate Chairman Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and House Chairman Dr. Phil Roe (R-TN), and Ranking Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) and Ranking Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN). Secretary Wilkie’s remarks included stating he will work to bring Veterans that are currently outside the VA’s systems into the system of care.
“I appreciate that the VA has been working directly with my staff to keep me informed about the status of the Community Care Network contracts in the Territories,” continued Congresswoman Amata. “The Pacific territories, including my home of American Samoa, face unique challenges due to their relative isolation – both physically and economically – from the rest of the United States. ‘One size fits all’ measures simply do not work for the Islands, and special care must be taken to ensure that the unique healthcare needs of Pacific Veterans are considered. I appreciate that the VA is considering the uniqueness of the Territories and handling their Community Care Network contracts separately.”
Congresswoman Amata in Joint Hearing with Senators and Representatives, including the Chairmen, Sen. Isakson and Rep. Roe.
The full designation of the MISSION Act is also named in honor of three leading Veteran legislators: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI) and Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX).