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May 24, 2017
A SPECIAL MEMORIAL DAY MESSAGE
West Virginia is a deeply patriotic state. We have served at a higher
rate than nearly every other state in all our nation's wars. We have
more Veterans, per capita, on the Vietnam Wall than any other state.
Because of our proud heritage of service, we in West Virginia celebrate
Memorial Day each year with profound reflection, pride and respect.
This a day to pay tribute to our Fallen Service Members and say thank
you, from the bottoms of our hearts, to their families, and to all who
served and continue to serve. If you see someone wearing the Gold Star
Pin, which symbolizes the ultimate sacrifice, thank them. If you see a
Veteran, thank them. If you see a Service Member, thank them. I'll be
joining you in doing the same.
Greenbrier CBOC Opening
Senator Manchin speaks at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new
Veterans outpatient clinic in Greenbrier County on May 22.
Vietnam veterans live by the creed, "Never again will one generation of
veterans abandon another."
Here in West Virginia, that creed is lived fully, every day. And I saw
it lived more powerfully than in our successful fight to get a new
outpatient health clinic for veterans in Greenbrier County.
Three years ago, the veterans outpatient clinic in Maxwelton was
permanently shut down, leaving a real void in this area. Not having a
clinic was simply unacceptable to me and to our local veterans, so we
got to work.
Together with the Vietnam Veterans of Greenbrier County � especially
Jim Smith and Jim Creasman � we held town halls and meetings. We sent
countless emails. We had conference calls with people at the highest
levels of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
We talked to anyone who would listen � including the Secretary of the
VA, Bob McDonald, whom I invited and brought to Greenbrier County two
years ago to underscore the great need for this clinic.
On Monday, we celebrated the payoff of all that hard work � with the
doors officially opening at the new Community Based Outpatient Clinic
(CBOC) for Veterans in Ronceverte.
After years with a temporary CBOC, veterans in the region now have
permanent access to outpatient services including primary care, mental
health, X-rays, telehealth, a laboratory, and a dedicated clinic for
women. Veterans can seek these services at the new location � 228
Shamrock Lane in Ronceverte � from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday
One of my biggest honors as West Virginia's United States Senator is
serving on the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee. To best serve in
this capacity, I have formed a statewide Veterans Advisory Group that
provides direct feedback on legislation and issues facing the veterans
With input from this group, right now in Washington, I am working on
legislation to name the Huntington VA Medical Center after our Medal of
Honor recipient Woody Williams. I'm working on the Homeless Veterans
Prevention Act of 2017. I'm a proud forming member of the Congressional
Veterans Jobs Caucus, which is focused on decreasing the unemployment
rate among our nation's Veterans.
And I've been so proud to champion legislative successes for our
veterans � including the HIRE Vets Act, which we passed this year;
legislation that allows all Purple Heart awardees to participate in the
G.I. Education Enhancement Program; a bill that improves services for
our homeless veterans; and legislation that removes regulations on
information sharing so veterans have great care no matter where they
The men and women who fought for all of us deserve nothing less than
Whether it's pushing for policies that matter to veterans, getting this
CBOC in Greenbrier County, helping veterans with their health care
benefits or securing their long-overdue military medals, our veterans
have always been there for us � and for each other � and I will always
be there for them.
Petition to Rename the Huntington VA after Woody Williams
Senator Manchin with Woody Williams in 2014. Photo credit: Charleston
Last week, I petitioned to rename the Huntington Veterans Affairs
Medical Center after Hershel "Woody" Williams. Woody is West Virginia's
only living Medal of Honor recipient.
Woody has dedicated his life to public service, and he has represented
the state of West Virginia with the utmost honor and distinction. After
retiring from the Marine Corps, Woody continued in public service at
the Veterans Affairs Administration for 35 years. Even today, at the
age of 93, Woody travels around the country to advocate for Veterans
and their families, to include those who have given the most, Gold Star
Families. It is only fitting that a West Virginia VA Medical Center be
named to honor the service and sacrifice of Medal of Honor recipient
and West Virginia icon, Woody Williams. I want to say to Woody how much
I appreciate his friendship, his steadfast loyalty to his fellow
Veterans, his selflessness, and his diligence in advocating for
Veterans and their families.
Veterans Recruitment Bill
I proudly applaud the recent passage of the American Law Enforcement
Heroes Act, bipartisan legislation to help state and local law
enforcement hire veterans onto their forces.The legislation will
prioritize the U.S. Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing
Services (COPS) funding of law enforcement agencies that use the
funding to hire military Veterans.
This legislation not only helps our Veterans find meaningful
employment, it also benefits law enforcement agencies and the
communities they serve. Through grant funding, the COPS program
encourages state and local law enforcement agencies to hire Veterans.
Finding meaningful job opportunities after serving in the military is
crucial to successfully transitioning back into civilian life.
The legislation is supported by the Fraternal Order of Police, Major
County Sheriffs of America, Major Cities Chiefs Association, Sergeants
Benevolent Association, National Association of Police Organizations
and Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Veterans Homeless Bill
This month, I introduced the Homeless Veterans Prevention Act of 2017.
This legislation would build on existing homeless veterans programs at
the Department of Veterans Affairs by investing in established programs
that are proven to be effective and removing any residual barriers to
housing for Veterans.
West Virginia's Veterans and their families have made unimaginable
sacrifices to keep us safe, and when these men and women return home
they deserve the best care. The Homeless Veterans Prevention Act bill
expands on existing VA partnerships to provide West Virginia's Veterans
with housing, health care access and legal services to prevent and end
homelessness. It's our responsibility to ensure every Veteran has
access to these resources.
Key Points for the Homeless Veterans Prevention Act of 2017:
* Keeps Veteran families together by allowing the VA to house the
children of homeless Veterans in transitional housing programs.
* Requires the VA to enter into partnerships with public and
private entities to provide legal services for homeless Veterans and
Veterans at risk of becoming homeless.
* Provides VA with the authority to provide dental care to
* Extends and increases the amount of money available for
supportive services to very low-income Veteran families in permanent
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