JAMESTOWN – Congressman Tom Reed was in Jamestown Friday afternoon to leaders of local veteran groups.
Reed held a closed door meeting with local vets at the Vietnam Veterans for America as part of an effort to have an open and frank dialogue with veterans about what can be done to help improve veteran services.
“One of the reasons we did a closed round table this time is because you get into issues that can be somewhat sensitive at times – they’ll bring up individuals cases and things like that – so we wanted to have that true dialogue,” Reed explained. “There’s something about the vet community, when you’re in that setting, the direct communication comes out. The non political correct information comes out and that’s what we’re looking for. I don’t want anything sugar coated. I want to know what are vets are dealing with.”
The Corning Republican said that one takeaway from the discussion was the Department of Defense could be more proactive by sending discharge papers of men and women leaving the armed forces to their local Veterans’ Services Offices. He said that would allow the local veterans agency to contact those veterans who’ve returned home and see if they need assistance transitioning back into civilian life.
“As vets transition out [of the military], we want to make sure the DOD can be a proactive resource for us. It can be as simple as having the vet’s discharge papers be disclosed and issued to the Veterans Service Office in which the vet’s last known address is located. That way the VSO knows who’s coming back into the community and have an obligation for the agency to check in on the vet and see how they’re doing,” Reed explained.
With the need for increased help for veterans, there’s also the potential for the need for increased funding. WRFA specifically asked Reed his thoughts on that matter, considering he’s gone on record as saying Washington and the federal government needs to reign in spending and work toward reducing the national debt.
“When we talk about these issues we talk about what are our priorities as a nation. This is a top priority,” Reed said. “I have yet to go anywhere in the district where people say our vets should be a lower priority. There is broad consensus… that is something I take as a sign that this type of funding should be at the top of the list and we need to make sure the resources can get out there.”
During his meeting, Reed also pointed to a total of 16 different pieces of veteran service legislation that he’s supported, which he says has helped to provide increased service and care to veterans.
Reed said he’ll take what he learned from the meeting with him back to Washington in an effort to build on legislation and policy he’s already supported since joining the house in 2010.