In order to best secure our national interests and protect the American people, as well as our allies in the international community, we must ensure that our troops are the best-trained, best-equipped and best-prepared in the world. With the Rock Island Arsenal in the Quad-Cities, the Illinois Air National Guard unit based outside of Peoria and major aerospace employers in Rockford, our Congressional District is vital to our country’s defense. I am proud that Northwest and Central Illinois plays this important part in ensuring our national security.
I am even prouder of our District’s service members and veterans who have served this nation with honor. Our veterans have earned the right to the best care and support possible as they return home from overseas.
That is why I strongly support providing returning service members with job training, higher education opportunities and financial planning tools to help those transitioning back into our communities and the workforce. I also support fully funding veterans’ health care benefits and providing state-of-the-art care for traumatic brain injuries and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
I have also worked to hold our defense leadership accountable and ask the tough questions to protect government support for our troops and veterans. Most recently, I held the Secretary of Veteran Affairs’ feet to the fire on his Department’s lacking response to the sobering COVID-19 crisis. Back home in Illinois, I led our entire state’s Congressional Delegation to successfully push for the extension of the activations of 2,000 men and women in the National Guard to continue to assist with the state’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
I also worked across the aisle to build on protections extended to Gold Star families and catastrophically injured spouses. I have prioritized making sure the Veterans Administration system is easy to navigate and provides our veterans with the needed benefits they’ve earned. I have hosted workshops, provided assistance with claims and connected local veterans with other resources available within our communities.
Finally, in my roles on the Defense and Veterans and Military Construction Appropriations SubCommittees, I have made protecting military readiness and national security a priority. In a major military spending package in 2019, I worked to include provisions that address significant barriers for veterans, ultimately securing a $300 million investment in the Department of Veterans Affairs’ rural health initiatives. I advocated for the Rock Island Arsenal during key Appropriations Committee hearings and secured over $50 million in funding for much-needed building repairs.
I will continue listening to servicemembers and veterans, and their families, to learn how to best take their fights to Congress.