My Fellow Veterans:
Louisiana’s governor has a special duty to our state’s veterans. The Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs maintains Veterans Homes, State Veterans Cemeteries and numerous offices that help our veterans secure state and federal benefits.
As a former officer with the Army National Guard, a former member of the United States House of Representatives Veterans Affairs Committee, and a current member of the House Armed Services Committee, I deeply understand the importance of maintaining a strong military and have consistently advocated for the men and women who serve in our military. I have also been a leader in ensuring that our government supports former members of the military and their families, including access to high-quality healthcare, mental health services, disability benefits, and many other important programs and services. As your next governor, I will support and enhance our state’s commitment to securing health care, education, disability benefits, long-term care and burial honors for Louisianians who have honorably served our country.
Since being elected to Congress in 2015, I have fought day in and day out to enact laws that support our military, our veterans and their families. Shortly after taking office, I introduced the Veterans’ Compensation Cost of Living Adjustment Act of 2016, which ensures that Veterans receive cost of living rate increases for disability compensation, additional compensation for dependents, the clothing allowance for disabled veterans, and dependency and indemnity compensation for surviving spouses and children. In July 2016, my bill was signed into law.
As a member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, I also worked to hold the Department of Veterans Affairs accountable and pass legislation to help fix the broken system. I voted for the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, which made it easier to fire poor-performing employees and increased protections for those who exposed problems within the VA. I also voted for the VA MISSION Act, which reduces red tape and provides more care options to ensure veterans receive the high-quality healthcare they need and deserve. Under the law, VA patients are able to choose a community care provider if they have a wait time of 20 days or more for primary or mental health care, and 28 days or more for specialty care. The MISSION Act also changes the VA mileage rule by allowing Veterans who face a drive time of more than 30 minutes for primary or mental care or 1 hour for specialty care to choose a community care provider closer to them.
I have also co-sponsored numerous bills to ensure that veterans and their families receive disability and survivor benefits they are entitled to. This includes the Military Surviving Spouses Equity Act, which would repeal provisions that require Dependency and Indemnity Compensation and Survivor Benefit Plan compensation to be offset, and the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019, which extends disability benefits covering medical conditions associated with Agent Orange exposure to those who served on ships off the coast of Vietnam.
Under President Obama, the United States military was depleted, and funding was slashed. Thankfully, President Trump and his conservative allies in Congress like myself, have rebuilt our military and increased funding that will allow our military to modernize, improve readiness and protect our nation from threats. Since I joined the House Committee on Armed Services, military funding under the National Defense Authorization Act has increased by over $100 billion dollars. I also helped secure a 2.6% pay raise for our troops in FY 2019, the largest in 9 years.
My work to support our troops and veterans has not been limited to Washington. I have also secured funding for Louisiana’s bases and military assets and worked to ensure no Louisiana bases are at risk of reductions or closures. Just recently, I helped secure $12.25 million for a new gate complex at Bossier’s Barksdale Air Force Base to help ensure it will be ready for a new $500 million Weapons Storage Facility.
Men and women who serve this country through military service have chosen to make the ultimate sacrifice to keep America safe and defend freedom. As Governor, I will fulfill my responsibility to support these men and women, and their families.
I look forward to working with each of you and humbly ask for your vote.
Congressman Ralph Abraham
Candidate For Governor