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LTE: Our Country And Our Veterans Deserve Better

During the Iraq war we air shipped, about 12 billion dollars in cash to Iraq and now we have trouble accounting for most of this money.  The top 10 percent of our population, that have 90 percent of the wealth, they may have an idea as to where some of this missing money is but I can tell you where it is not going!  We have returning servicemen that need jobs; some have none because when they left their job, it was guaranteed to be there; then when they came back, if the company moved out of the country, sorry no job and we allow this to happen.  The younger returning veterans, who had no job before leaving, are welcomed home to minimum wage jobs with family unfriendly benefits at a retail box store selling merchandise that is not made in this country.  We have politicians that want to lower or do away with the minimum wage, who is funding their campaign?  We have politicians that want more free trade agreements for us.  The last ones worked just fine, look at the unemployment numbers.  Ross Perot was correct about the giant sucking sound!  We have been deficit spending for more than 70 years, and now it has become a game for the rich or middle class to who will pay.  The Tea Party wants it paid back immediately without new taxes.  When this country becomes a divided rich and poor nation, we will become a weak nation just like the ones we try to help.  We need leaders, a truthful news media and zero lobbyist.

Joe Gallagher,

New Shaheen Campaign TV Ad Shows How Shaheen Gets the Job Done For New Hampshire

Latest Ad Highlights Shaheen’s Record of Fighting For NH Jobs, Small Businesses, Working Families and Veterans

Jeanne ShaheenManchester – Today, the Shaheen campaign released a new television ad titled “Granite,” which shows how Senator Shaheen always fights for the people of New Hampshire, not special interests like the big banks or Big Oil. The ad describes her work to protect jobs in New Hampshire and how she has helped small businesses, working families, and veterans across the state.

To watch the ad, click here: http://jeanneshaheen.org/granite/

“They don’t call us the Granite State for nothing. We’re tough here. I never back down from a fight for the people of New Hampshire. I don’t work for the big oil companies or the big banks, I work for you,” says Senator Shaheen in the ad.

Jeanne Shaheen works for the people of New Hampshire, not the Big Oil or corporate special interests. But when Scott Brown was a Senator from Massachusetts, he supported billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies for Big Oil. He secured billions in special breaks for Wall Street and worked to water down new regulations on behalf of the big banks. He also voted to protect tax breaks for corporations shipping American jobs overseas. And since getting voted out of office, Brown is now collecting more than a quarter of a million dollars by serving on the board of a company that sent jobs to China and Mexico.

“Jeanne Shaheen’s common sense leadership makes a difference for New Hampshire,” said Shaheen campaign Communications Director Harrell Kirstein. “She has deep roots in New Hampshire, raised her family here and her record proves she will always put New Hampshire first.”

As a member of the Armed Services Committee, Shaheen has taken on her own party to oppose a new round of BRAC which could threaten the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and the thousands of New Hampshire jobs there. This summer she worked with Republicans to pass bipartisan legislation reforming the VA, and a special provision she worked to include will soon allow New Hampshire veterans to receive health care closer to their homes.

Shaheen helped write the Small Business Jobs Act, a law that cut taxes for small businesses, increased their access to credit, and helped New Hampshire companies export their products. And she stood up for working families by introducing the Bank On Students Emergency Loan Refinance Act, legislation that would allow student loan borrowers to refinance their student loans and reduce their loan debt.

A transcript of the ad is below.

Title Granite
Media TV 0:30
Date 10/27/14
Script Backup
Sen. Shaheen: They don’t call us the Granite State for nothing. We’re tough here. I never back down from a fight for the people of New Hampshire. I don’t work for the big oil companies or the big banks, I work for you.Sen. Shaheen: Saving jobs at the Shipyard.Saving Jobs
Shaheen Led The Fight To Stop A Potential BRAC Round That Would Put PNSY AT RiskCapital Beat: In Face Of Call For BRAC Round By President Obama That Could Put PNSY At Risk, Shaheen Among NH’s “Heavy Hitters” For The Shipyard. “Eight years ago, the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard was on the Pentagon’s chopping block. In the end, it was spared during the 2005 round of military base closures, but the experience left advocates for the shipyard – and its thousands of employees – wary. President Obama called this year for a new round of base closures, starting in 2015. But the proposal has gained little traction on Capitol Hill, and it looks like the shipyard can breathe a little easier for now. […] On the Senate side, New Hampshire has a couple of heavy hitters in U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte.” [Concord Monitor, Capital Beat, 7/7/13]Shaheen-Led Readiness Subcommittee Rejected BRAC Requests In 2013 And 2014. [Associated Press, 6/11/13; Politico, 5/21/14]
Sen. Shaheen: Helping our businesses compete.Helping Business
Shaheen-Backed Small Business Jobs Act Provided Help To Small Business To Increase Exports To Expand, Create JobsShaheen Voted For Small Business Jobs Act That Included 8 Small Business Tax Cuts. [Vote 237, 9/16/10; U.S. Small Business Administration, Accessed 10/22/14]Small Business Jobs Act Provided Funds To Help Create New High-Tech Companies In The State, A Provision Shaheen Championed. [New Hampshire Union Leader, 7/9/12]Report: “Dozens” Of NH Companies Will Receive Grants Through Small Business Export Program That Shaheen “Helped To Craft.” [Foster’s Daily Democrat, 12/31/2012]·         Headline: 35 NH companies receive export grants [New Hampshire Union Leader, 12/29/12]
Sen. Shaheen: Allowing families to refinance student loans…Refinance
Shaheen Introduced Legislation To Let College Grads Refinance Student Loans, Saving ThousandsShaheen Was An Original Cosponsor Of The Bank On Students Emergency Loan Refinance Act That Would Allow Students To Refinance Their Loans At Lower Interest Rates. [S.2432, Introduced 6/4/14]Student Loan Refinancing Bill Would Help 25 Million Borrowers Save $2,000 Each Over The Lifetime Of Their Loans. [Boston Globe, 6/11/14]
Sen. Shaheen: …and veterans get health care close to home. Getting the job done for New Hampshire.Veterans
HEALTH CARESen. Shaheen: I’m Jeanne Shaheen. I approve this message. I didn’t just move here, I’ve been here fighting for you. I’d be honored to have your vote.VOTE NOV 4TH  Jeanne Shaheen
Shaheen Worked To Get Provision In VA Reform Bill To Allow NH Veterans To Get Health Care Close To HomeShaheen & Ayotte Held Joint Press Conference To Mark Passage Of The VA Reform Bill Containing The Equivalent Care Provision They Crafted. [New Hampshire Union Leader, 8/1/14]·         Provision Will Let NH Veterans That Live More Than 20 Miles From A Full-Service VA Hospital Obtain Care Outside The VA System. [Concord Monitor, 7/31/14]·         Report: Provision Will “Mean Elderly, Ill New Hampshire Veterans Will Not Have Travel Hours To Get Medical Care Treatment” At Out-Of-State VA Hospitals. [New Hampshire Union Leader, 8/1/14]

Governor Hassan And NH Employment Security Launch Operation VETS Connect

Initiative Creates 100-Day Challenge to Employers to Incorporate or Expand Veteran Hiring Initiatives

CONCORD – In order to support New Hampshire’s veterans and help ensure that they have the employment opportunities that they deserve, Governor Maggie Hassan and New Hampshire Employment Security (NHES) Commissioner George Copadis today launched Operation VETS Connect, an initiative aimed at building on current efforts to support veteran hiring in New Hampshire.

Operation VETS Connect creates a 100-day challenge to New Hampshire employers to incorporate or expand upon established veteran hiring initiatives. The challenge runs from September 2 to December 10, and it will promote a greater awareness of veterans, the unique skills that they bring to the workforce and the benefits employers obtain in hiring them.

“Our veterans sacrifice bravely in defense of our freedoms, and they have the character, experience and work ethic to be an asset for any employer,” Governor Hassan said. “They represent the very best of our state’s deep talent pool, possessing a wide variety of transferrable skills proven in real-world situations, including leadership, collaboration and the ability to focus on and achieve defined objectives. Operation VETS Connect is an exciting initiative that will help strengthen our civilian workforce and our economy while ensuring that all of our veterans have access to the employment opportunities that they deserve.”

“New Hampshire Employment Security is committed to supporting veteran employment, and we are proud to launch Operation VETS Connect, an important initiative that will enhance current efforts to support veteran hiring in the Granite State,” NHES Commissioner George Copadis said.

As part of Operation VETS Connect, NHES will continue to host veteran-specific job fairs. The state will also send out notices to employers about the benefits of hiring veterans and provide resources to veterans to assist with resume writing and other tips for a successful job search.

In addition, referrals or funding may be available through state agencies for training opportunities such as the Return to Work and On-the-Job Training (OJT) programs, apprenticeships and programs through NH Works. For OJT specifically, up to $500,000 may be available.

Employers with a federal tax identification number and who hire New Hampshire veterans are eligible to participate in Operation VETS Connect. In order to participate, employers must register in the New Hampshire Job Match System (JMS), share job announcements with the local American Job Center and complete a job fair registration form.

Participating employers are encouraged to attend NHES-sponsored job fairs or host a hiring-recruitment event. They also agree to consider veteran applicants and their unique skills, to work with NHES to identify areas to help better prepare denied applicants to enter the workforce and to respond to all resumes and applications received from veterans.

Veteran job seekers must visit their local American Job Center, register in JMS, attend local NHES job fairs and make a good faith effort to strengthen their documentation and presentation to employers of relevant skills and experience.

At the end of the 100-day challenge, employers will be recognized for their participation. For more information about NHES job fairs and events, visit http://www.nhes.nh.gov/media/job-fairs/.

Shaheen Breaks Gridlock To Help New Hampshire Veterans (VIDEO)

Jeanne Shaheen Worked With Republicans For New Law
So New Hampshire Veterans Can Get Health Care Close To Home
Jeanne Shaheen Is Making A Difference For New Hampshire

Manchester, NH – Congressional approval of a major veterans reform bill that allows New Hampshire veterans to get health care close to home is the subject of the new television ad from Jeanne Shaheen’s campaign, “Breakthrough.” New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen, along with Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte, introduced and fought for the language in the bill that allows New Hampshire veterans to get health care outside the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

New Hampshire veterans in need of health care will no longer have to travel hours for treatment at one of the VA hospitals in Boston or White River Junction in Vermont, and instead will have the option of receiving their care locally from a non-VA provider.

“Jeanne Shaheen is a tireless fighter for New Hampshire veterans and she gets things done for us. This has been a long time coming; she helped break the gridlock in Washington to deliver a tremendous victory for New Hampshire veterans,” said Barry Conway of Hampton, Airman First Class, US Air Force, Commandant of the New Hampshire Veterans Home and Chair Emeritus of the State Veterans Advisory Committee. Conway is a member of the Veterans for Shaheen Leadership Committee.

Language Senator Shaheen had included in the Veterans’ Access to Care Through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act – also known as Sanders-McCain – would allow veterans in New Hampshire to receive health care services from certain non-VA medical facilities if they live more than twenty miles from the nearest full service VA hospital, because New Hampshire doesn’t have a full service VA hospital.  The bill passed the U.S House of Representatives, and U.S. Senate, last week.

“This is something that people promised us for years but Jeanne Shaheen delivered,” says George Fleming of Barrington, a USMC and Vietnam Veteran, in the ad. “It’s going to make a world of difference. She gets the job done for New Hampshire.”

“Being able to get health care outside the VA is a huge step for veterans,” adds Charlie Mooskian of Pelham, US Navy veteran and Past Commander of VFW District 6.

Jeanne Shaheen is a tireless advocate for keeping our nation’s commitment to veterans. The first piece of legislation she introduced when she got to the U.S. Senate was the bipartisan Veterans Health Equity Act to improve VA care in New Hampshire by opening a full service hospital or providing New Hampshire’s veterans with an equivalent level of health services.  She has introduced legislation to encourage companies to hire veterans and supported 2011 legislation that provided tax credits to businesses that hired unemployed veterans.  She broke through years of red tape to get veterans clinics and health centers open in Manchester and Keene with two more on the way in Berlin, and Colebrook.

Over 100 Veterans Come Out To Endorse Sen. Shaheen

Image by Harrell Kirstein

Image by Harrell Kirstein

More Than 100 New Hampshire Veterans Endorse Jeanne Shaheen As She Calls For Passage Of Bipartisan Veterans’ Access to Care Act

CONCORD — Today, more than 100 New Hampshire Veterans, both Democrats and Republicans, came together to endorse New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s re-election and discuss the difference she makes for veterans here, as she calls for passage of the Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act.  Language Senator Shaheen had included in the legislation would allow veterans in New Hampshire – because it doesn’t have a full service VA hospital – to receive healthcare services from certain non-VA medical facilities if they live more than twenty miles from a full service VA provider.

“The first bill I introduced when I was elected to represent New Hampshire in the U.S. Senate was the Veterans Health Equity Act.  It had bipartisan support and would require the VA to open a full-service medical center in New Hampshire or provide New Hampshire’s veterans with an equivalent level of health services,” said Jeanne Shaheen.  “We have continued that fight and I am proud that the bipartisan Sanders-McCain bill the Senate passed last month included language to provide New Hampshire veterans greater access to health care.”

The veterans endorsing Senator Shaheen will be leading outreach to fellow New Hampshire veterans and military families between now and November, talking to them about how Jeanne Shaheen makes a difference for Granite State veterans, and also about what is at stake in this election.

“Our nation owes a deep debt to all service men and women who have answered the call of duty and served our country in uniform, and I am deeply honored to have the support of so many New Hampshire veterans,” said Shaheen.

“I fully support the re-election of Senator Jeanne Shaheen, our former governor, who I was privileged to work under when I was on the State Board of Education, and who has been a great U.S. Senator to date,” said Jim Steiner of Concord, Captain, US Army Special Forces and a registered Republican.  “It is time for voters to stop worrying about the party label and focus on actual leadership we see demonstrated.  Senator Shaheen thank you so much.”

“When one of our residents at the New Hampshire Veterans Home approached me about Senator Shaheen and he said ‘you know, Mr. Conway I really like her, she’s the real deal’ – I’ll never forget that.  I am happy to endorse the real deal for New Hampshire veterans, Senator Shaheen,” said Barry Conway of Hampton, Airman First Class, US Air Force, Commandant New Hampshire Veterans Home and Chair Emeritus State Veterans Advisory Committee.

“What impresses me most about Senator Shaheen is that because of her history here in New Hampshire, she knows who to reach out to in the state to get the New Hampshire position, the people’s position.  So when she goes back to Washington she’s properly representing us because she knows us,” said Gail Prince of Bedford, Colonel, US Air Force, and former Commander of the Sweeney Post in Manchester.

“This is my very first time standing up at a political event and saying I’m going to be behind somebody. I spent a career making sure no one could paint me with a brush, but it is time to come out and take a stance because what is going on here is too important.  We need Senator Shaheen,” said Ken Clark of Stratham, Major General, US Air Force (Ret.), and Former Adjutant General of the New Hampshire National Guard

From a family with a strong tradition of military service, Jeanne Shaheen is a tireless advocate for keeping our commitment to veterans. She has introduced legislation to encourage companies to hire vets and supported 2011 legislation that provided tax credits to businesses that hired unemployed veterans.  She broke through years of red tape to get veterans clinics and health centers in Manchester, Keene, Berlin, and Colebrook.

Earlier this spring, the Shaheen campaign released a 30 second television ad entitled ‘Open’ featuring Vietnam Veteran Dwight Clark who worked with Shaheen to cut 30 years of red tape and bring a new Veterans Clinic to Keene.  Click here to see the ad.

The full list of the more than one hundred veterans endorsing Senator Shaheen is below.

Ken Clark of Stratham, Major General, US Air Force (Ret.), Former Adjutant General of the New Hampshire National Guard

Jim Smith of Salem, Brigadier General, US Air Force (Ret.), former U.S. Ambassador

Jim Steiner of Concord, Captain, US Army Special Forces

Barry Conway of Hampton, Airman First Class, US Air Force , Commandant New Hampshire State Veterans Home, Chair Emeritus State Veterans Advisory Committee

Ned Helms of Concord, Infantry Lieutenant, US Army

Wayne Alterisio of Manchester, Specialist, US Army

Paul Martineau of Manchester, Captain, US Army

Gail Prince of Bedford, Colonel, US Air Force (Ret.)

Dwight Clark of Keene, Staff Sergeant, US Air Force

Billy Shaheen of Madbury, Captain, US Army

Bob Hannan of Dover, Captain, US Air Force

Jack Scarborough of Plymouth, Lieutenant Colonel, USMC (Ret.)

Val Scarborough of Plymouth, Lieutenant Colonel, USMC (Ret.)

Terry Shumaker of Concord, Captain US Army, former US Ambassador

Pat Duffy of Manchester, Colonel, US Air Force (Ret.)

Bill Hatch of Gorham, Staff Sergeant (Medic), US Air Force

Judy Atwood Bell of Hudson, Sergeant First Class, US Army

Bill Duncan of New Castle, Lieutenant, US Navy

Mike Lopez of Manchester, Master Sergeant, US Army

Scott Baetz of Windham, USMC

Dave Bamford of Dover, US Army

Michael Bannan of Bristol, US Air Force

Thomas Barry of Nashua, US Army

Francis Bartula of Manchester, US Navy

Joe Bellabona of Lee, US Air Force

Ryan Bellabona of Madbury, US Air Force

Joseph Bennett of Manchester, US Army

Rene Bisson of Berlin, US Army

Roger Bleau of Manchester, US Army

Alfred Bouchard of Nashua, US Army

Janice Bouchard of Nashua, US Air Force

Jerry Burt of Plainfield, US Army

Patricia Bushway of Hampton, US Army

Bill Caldwell of Dover, USMC

Peter Casey of Gilmanton, US Army

William Cashin of Manchester, US Army

Skip Clark of Portsmouth, US Army

Pat Clark of Tilton, USMC

Lou D’Allesandro of Manchester, USMC Reserve

Jay Dean of Dover, US Air Force

Josh Denton of Portsmouth, US Army

Jerry DiGrezio of Dover, US Army

Raymond Dionne of Hudson, US Navy

Len Disesa of Dover, US Army

Roland Dubois of Rochester, US Navy

John Dunn of Hollis, US Navy

Nancy Ehrig of Lancaster, US Army

Karen Fesler of Bath, US Navy

George Fleming of Barrington, USMC

Rene Flurey of Manchester, USMC

Louis Foskin of Manchester, US Air Force

Richard Goulet of Goffstown, US Air Force

Paul Hackel of Nashua, US Army

Lou Henry of Gilmanton, US Army

Arthur Hilson of Portsmouth, US Air Force

Roland Hofemann of Dover, US Air Force

Elroy Hume of Somersworth, US Army

Lionel Ingram of Exeter, US Army

Sherwood Jackson of Stoddard, US Army

Nicholas Kalipolites of Manchester, US Navy

Harvey Keye of Nashua, US Army

Merton King of Hooksett, US Army

Burton Knight of Amherst, US Air Force

Charles Kokkinos of Manchester, US Army

Dennis Kounas of Candia, US Air Force

Antonia Laflamme of Littleton, US Army

Raymond Lakeman of Gilford, US Navy

Linda Lauer of Bath, US Navy

Robert LeBlanc of Meredith, USMC

Irving Legeti of Lebanon, US Air Force

Doug Micklon of Salem, US Navy

Gordon Miller of Orford, US Air Force

Terence O’Rourke of Alton, US Army

Gerald Olsen of Nashua, US Army

Bertrand Ouellette of Auburn, US Air Force

Norman Page of Derry, US Army

Frank Pizzutillo of Manchester, US Army

Joe Plaia of Portsmouth, USMC

Paul Proulx of Manchester, US Air Force

Dan Proulx of Nashua, USMC

Leonard Pufahl of Portsmouth, US Air Force

Ken Putney of Derry, US Navy

Richard Querze of Manchester, US Air Force

Gerald Reilly of Manchester, US Army

Denis Roy of Milan, US Army National Guard

Kevin Rutledge of New Ispwich, US Navy

Louis Ryan of Middleton, US Army

Joel Saren of East Hampstead, USMC

Lonn Sattler of Barrington, US Navy

Dan Shaheen of Dover, US Army Reserve

Steve Shurtleff of Penacook, US Army

Tim Siekmann of Londonderry, USMC

Lincoln Soldati of Exeter, US Army

Stan Soloman of Albany, US Army

Pete Stearns of Amherst, US Army (Ret.)

Norman Talbot of Rochester, USMC

David Taylor of Derry, US Army

Eugene Tillock of Durham, US Army

Andrew Tuttle of Bridgewater, US Army

Gareth Vincent of Hudson, Army of the United States

William Watts of Manchester, US Army

Lon Weston of Bethlehem, US Army

Bradford Whipple of Sugar Hill, US Air Force

Dept Of Justice Report Reveals Severe Inequalities In Federal Benefits For Same Sex Military Couples

Underscores need for legislation to extend federal benefits to same-sex couples

Gay Couple from back Holding HandsU.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) reacted with disappointment today to a Department of Justice announcement that declared that some federal agencies have been unable to extend benefits to same-sex couples in spite of last year’s Supreme Court ruling striking down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), further underscoring the need to pass her Charlie Morgan Act. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is one department that because of current law is unable to grant important benefits to same-sex couples living in states that do not recognize such marriages even if they are legally married in another state. This has created a situation in which veterans who have volunteered to serve in our Armed Forces are discriminated against and can be denied benefits based simply on geography.

“In the year since the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act we’ve seen significant progress toward ending discrimination in federal policy on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity but more work remains,” Shaheen said. “Today’s announcement underscores the need for legislative action. It is unconscionable that same-sex couples in half the country are denied services extended to all couples in the other half and we cannot allow this to continue, particularly for our veterans who have already sacrificed so much for our country. We need to pass the Charlie Morgan Act because all veterans deserve access to the benefits they have earned.”

“Every legally married, same-sex couple deserves to have their marriage fully recognized by the federal government regardless of where they live or what federal benefits they have earned,” said David Stacy, Government Affairs Director of the Human Rights Campaign. “Senator Jeanne Shaheen didn’t wait while VA was deciding whether they would act to ensure our veterans marriages are respected by their country—she took the lead in introducing legislation to guarantee them the benefits they earned. With Senator Shaheen leading the fight, soon every citizen will be treated equally regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.”

The Charlie Morgan Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act would require the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs to honor any marriage that has been recognized by a state and provide a number of key benefits to the spouses of all servicemembers. By allowing for an individual to be considered a “spouse” if their marriage is valid in their state, Shaheen’s bill ensures that same-sex military families receive many of the same federal benefits as heterosexual couples regardless of where they live.

Shaheen’s amendment honors New Hampshire National Guard Chief Warrant Officer Charlie Morgan who passed away last year after a battle with breast cancer. Morgan’s wife and daughter have not been able to receive certain survivor benefits due to restrictions in the federal code prohibiting the VA from administering benefits.

Sen. Shaheen Introduces Veterans Access To Care Accountability Act

In Response to Inspector General Report, bill addresses gaps in VA health system, prohibits bonuses for VA officials 

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) introduced legislation today designed to address the gaps and gross mismanagement of Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) resources that were recently identified in an Office of Inspector General (OIG) report and have led to delayed care for veterans. Shaheen’s bill, the Veterans Access to Care Accountability Act, includes numerous provisions to remedy identified instances of veterans being delayed care, strengthen VA accountability and hold individual VA officials responsible, including through precluding bonuses from being paid to VA officials involved in mismanagement.

“The problems we’ve seen at VA hospitals across the country are unacceptable,” Shaheen said. “We need to do everything we can to make sure that veterans are getting timely access to the quality medical care they’ve earned. If there are problems, we need to know immediately, and those responsible need to be held accountable. This bill will go a long way toward improving oversight of the VA and ultimately providing our veterans with the care they deserve.”

Shaheen’s bill would implement a new random auditing requirement by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Office of Inspector General and other watchdog agencies for VA medical facilities and would require veterans be contacted within 48 hours and scheduled an appointment with an outside medical facility within one week if a report determines veterans have been delayed access to care. The Veterans Access to Care Accountability Act also includes provisions to hold VA officials involved in potential delays accountable, specifically banning the distribution of bonuses to VA officials who may have been involved in mismanagement.

The bill builds off bipartisan legislation Shaheen is co-sponsoring that has been included as an amendment to the FY 2015 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill to give the Secretary the authority to fire or demote senior level employees based on their performance. Shaheen, who called for the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki following the release of the OIG report, has also requested a full briefing on the findings of rapid audit teams deployed across the VA enterprise, including at the Manchester and White River Junction VA Medical Centers that serve New Hampshire’s veterans.

AFGE President Cox Responds To Attack On Workers At The VA

Once again the conservative media is going after the unionized workers at the Department of Veterans Affairs.  They are claiming that it is the union workers are to blame for the fact that the VA is underfunded and that wait times are out of control.

The David Cox, the President of the American Federation of Government Employees, who represents workers at the VA responded with a blog post in the Huffington Post.  Here are some excerpts of the post, which you should read in its entirety.

Employees, Unions Hold the Key to Ending VA’s Health Care Crisis

Federal unions always have been active partners in improving the Department of Veterans Affairs and addressing problems as they arise. Contrary to what many in theconservative media have desperately suggested in recent days, unions are not the reason why the VA is facing a crisis over delays in providing health care to our nation’s war heroes. In fact, unions are the solution.

The anti-government naysayers conveniently place the blame on officials from the American Federation of Government Employees and other unions, makingoutrageous and unsubstantiated claims alleging complicity in veterans’ deaths. This is an insult of the highest order, and one that cannot go unanswered.

What they and other critics of labor unions fail to realize, or refuse to acknowledge, is that the union fights not just for employees’ interests but for the well-being of the men and women our employees serve. In fact, the nation wouldn’t even know these problems existed if it wasn’t for front-line employees and union representatives stepping forward to blow the whistle.

AFGE union officers and unionized employees have been speaking out for years about the management and performance failings that have only now entered the public’s consciousness. Unions are not the problem; neither are the hardworking and dedicated doctors, nurses and support staff who are providing world-class care to our nation’s veterans and family members.

We were at the table in the 1990s, providing our expertise on electronic health care records, bar code medications, and other patient safety advancements that helped transform the VA into the premier health care provider it is today.

AFGE members are the critical eyes and ears on the ground at VA medical centers. Day in and day out, we share with lawmakers and veterans’ groups the harsh effects of underfunding that limit the VA’s ability to adequately care for our nation’s veterans and their loved ones. AFGE and veterans’ groups worked hand-in-hand to secure advance appropriations for the VA health care system so medical centers would have more stable and adequate funding. Unfortunately, thanks to lawmakers playing austerity politics with veterans, the VA is facing a $2 billion budget shortfall next year. That is certainly not the union’s fault…

…We are the ones who witness the impact of performance measures that tie executive bonuses to how many patients can be moved through the queue, rather than on the quality of care those patients receive. It was these unrealistic performance goals that prompted some managers to game the system to show compliance and secure bonuses. This, again, was not the union’s fault — in fact, union activists are the ones who brought this situation to the light of day….

…In February 2013, AFGE local president Kathleen Dahl testified before the House Committee on Veterans Affairs regarding a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease at the Pittsburgh VA Healthcare System and the subsequent cover-up by management officials. Prior to the hearing, however, Dahl was intimidated by a VA manager and told that she could “call in sick” instead of testifying….

…Today, AFGE members are being intimidated to keep quiet by the very managers who manipulated performance goals to ensure they received their bonuses. Meanwhile, the consequences of staffing shortages are swept under the carpet.

Luckily, AFGE is there to help protect employees who have been retaliated against for speaking out and to serve as a voice for employees and veterans. We advocate for additional funding for VA programs and services, lobby for legislation to enhance whistleblower protections, and aid congressional oversight of the department….

We must encourage employees to speak out about these problems, and to protect them when they do. If we silence their voices, our veterans will be the ones who pay the ultimate price.


Senator Shaheen Presents NH Veterans With Service Medals

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) awards service medals to Maurice Lavigne and Raymond Lakeman

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) awards service medals to Maurice Lavigne and Raymond Lakeman

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) this afternoon awarded service medals to two New Hampshire veterans, Maurice Lavigne and Raymond Lakeman, for their service during World War II and the Korean War. Both veterans earned the medals during their time in the Navy but were unable to secure them. Senator Shaheen’s office assisted in obtaining the medals.

“It is a great pleasure to say thank you to Mr. Lavigne and Mr. Lakeman for their great courage and sacrifice for our country,” Shaheen said. “This is a long overdue recognition and I was very pleased to help these two extraordinary veterans receive the recognition they deserve.”

Mr. Lavigne of Manchester, enlisted in the Navy on January 8, 1945 and spent more than a year and a half deployed on the USS Kaskaskia an oil refueling tanker and served as maintenance worker, radioman and helmsman. Today Mr. Lavigne received: The World War II Victory Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic Pacific Medal with 1 Bronze Star appurtenance, Navy Occupation Service Medal with Asia Clasp, China Service Medal (extended) and Combat Action Ribbon.

Mr. Lakeman of Gilford, enlisted in the Navy in 1950 at the age of 18. He traveled to Korea aboard the USS Haven where he served in a Marine medical unit. Mr. Lakeman served two tours aboard the USS Haven. Today Mr. Lakeman received: The Navy Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal w/4 Bronze Stars, United Nations Service Medal, Republic of Korea War Service Medal and Republic of Korean Presidential Unit Citation.

Senator Shaheen Files Amendment To Tax Bill To Promote Jobs For Veterans

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) today filed an amendment to promote job creation and economic opportunity for U.S. veterans to legislation extending expired job-creating tax credits currently under consideration by the Senate. The Veterans Hiring Act would cut payroll taxes for businesses that hire veterans creating immediate incentives for employers to provide jobs for veterans.

“The men and women who serve in our armed forces deserve our support while deployed and when they return home,” Shaheen said. “My plan incentivizes the hiring of our service members by giving companies access to immediate savings when they hire veterans. This straight-forward proposal will promote jobs for veterans and help small business expand and grow our economy.”

The unemployment rate for U.S. Iraq and Afghanistan veterans was 9 percent for 2013, more than 2 percent higher than the national average. Shaheen has made promoting economic opportunity and jobs for veterans one of her top priorities in Washington. She has visited numerous businesses across New Hampshire that have been leaders in hiring veterans and has introduced legislation such as the Veterans Entrepreneurship Act to help veterans start and grow small businesses.

Previously Shaheen filed an amendment designed to protect New Hampshire and other non-sales tax states from the burden of collecting sales taxes for other jurisdictions on online sales.


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