March 06, 2024

Ranking Member Takano Kicks Off Multiple-Day VSO Hearings to Hear Directly from Veterans About Their Priorities

Press Contact

Libby Carlson

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Ranking Member Mark Takano (CA-39) and Committee members began the 2024 Veterans Service Organization (VSO) hearings. These yearly hearings are bipartisan and bicameral, to allow all Committee members to hear directly from veterans and VSOs about their priorities in the next year. 

The first panel featured witnesses from the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), including VFW Commander-in-Chief Duane Sarmiento. Ranking Member Takano highlighted the success of the implementation of the Honoring our PACT Act and how more veterans than ever before are applying for healthcare and benefits.

Ranking Member Takano said, “Beyond the PACT Act, however, a great deal remains to be done on behalf of veterans during this Congress.  Among my principal priorities are preserving women veterans' healthcare freedoms, ensuring access to IVF, delivering a VA for all veterans, working to end veteran homelessness and food insecurity, and rejecting efforts to privatize VA by siphoning off more of VHA’s budget for private care. Unfortunately, we have yet to make much progress on those issues this Congress.” 

Commander-in-Chief Sarmiento’s testimony focused on VFW’s support of the GUARD Act and not paying unaccredited for-profit companies, or claims sharks, to file veteran claims, combatting homelessness, and suicide prevention.  

The second panel included Paralyzed Veterans of America, Wounded Warrior Project, National Association of State Directors of Veteran Affairs, Mission Roll Call, Blue Star Families, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Blinded Veterans Association, Service Women’s Action Network, Student Veterans of America, and American Veterans. 

Former Senator Elizabeth Dole spoke on the second panel urging lawmakers to pass the Elizabeth Dole Home Care Act (H.R. 542), which will provide additional support for caregivers. The other VSOs highlighted strengthening VA’s specialty care system, auto enrolling transitioning servicemembers into VA healthcare, and supporting victims of military sexual trauma by working to upgrade their discharge status. 

Ranking Member Takano concluded, “Sadly, the legislative response to many of these issues from this Congress has largely been nonexistent. Instead, we’ve spent time chasing scandals where they don’t exist, complaining about flags and mottos, and arguing about whether it is a good thing that VA is open and welcoming to veterans from all walks of life. At best, it has been a distraction from the more pressing issues at hand. At worst, it has been a case of severely misplaced legislative priorities. However, I commit to all those watching today, that I will continue to fight for real, concrete, actionable solutions to the problems veterans currently face.” 

Tomorrow will be the Legislative Presentation of Disabled American Veterans.