Today, we observe Veterans Day to celebrate the men and women who have bravely served this country, and to honor their sacrifice. As your congressman, it has been my distinct privilege to meet and engage with so many of Idaho's veterans — whether they need help with the VA, are advocating for a bill relating to veterans issues, or are simply looking to voice their opinion on the topic of the day. Veterans are a critical part of our communities, and I am proud to serve the more than 70,000 veterans in Idaho's First District.
Arn, a Boise veteran, reached out to our office for help. He was experiencing double vision and after going to the VA emergency room he was referred to an optometrist in Eagle. The doctor assured Mr. Allemand that he had an authorization number and the VA would pay for the treatment. A year passed and the VA still hadn’t paid the eye doctor for Arn’s treatment. My team contacted the VA directly on Arn’s behalf and explained the issue. The case was put into further review and the VA agreed to pay Arn’s treatment bill.
Arn commented on the services he received from our office: “Bless Russ Fulcher and all of your staff! Thank you for all your help and concern-- you are appreciated!!”
Harold from Homedale, Idaho is a Navy veteran in his 70’s. After being denied for a hearing loss claim, the VA requested that he get another examination to retest. Over a year passed with the VA postponing appointments. He reached out to our office and we were able to set an appointment for Harold at the VA. After the testing was complete he was granted 30% disability and they backdated it to the day of the original exam over a year earlier, giving him over $5,000 in retroactive pay.
Harold told our Casework Director Tori, “When you lay your head on your pillow tonight, know that you have made someone’s day.” He also gave feedback to our team, noting, “Ms. Shockey was never afraid to pick up the phone and ask questions.”
Donald, a veteran from Star, called our office because he is almost deaf and has difficulties hearing over a telephone line. He and his wife had tried on numerous occasions to make an appointment with audiology department at the VA. The VA would schedule appointments and cancel them without notifying him and he was very frustrated. Our casework team was able to contact the VA, and after hearing about the scheduling debacles, his VA doctor called him immediately.
Donald sent the following feedback after his experience with our office, “Sir, Yesterday was interesting for me. The doctor contacted me and we spent 20+ minutes discussing my concerns. He assured me that he personally would follow up. The VA is going to use my case as a Training Tool in communications for the Nursing Staff. Also, the nurse that was the main person of my concerns would be required to have some specialized training. Russ, I wish to thank you for the attention that you brought to my issue. Your Personal Assistant, Tori Shockey was very easy to work with and very helpful. Thank You!”
This program gives veterans the opportunity to tell their story and have it preserved by the Library of Congress.
Along with over 30 minutes of video footage, the Library of Congress accepts copies of photographs, mementos, letters, and other items that add to the story of each veteran. Our office is equipped to help veterans record their stories and collect these items to be submitted for preservation.
“Not only does this opportunity provide a way for our veterans to share with us the stories of their service to our country, it also allows future generations to learn from these stories and remember the sacrifices of our service members to protect the freedoms we enjoy today,” Congressman Fulcher commented. “I am looking forward to meeting these veterans and taking part in this wonderful project.”
Veterans or their family members interested in the Veterans History Project can learn more and sign up for the project at https://fulcher.house.gov/veterans-history-project or by calling Tori in Congressman Fulcher’s Meridian District Office at (208) 888-3188.
Voted YES to pass H.R.4300, the Alexander Lofgren VIP Act, a bill to amend the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act to provide free annual America the Beautiful Passes to current military service members, veterans, and Gold Star Families. The pass covers the entrance fee and standard amenity recreation fee for all federal recreational lands and waters.
Voted YES to pass H.R.5293, the Department of Veterans Affairs Expiring Authorities Act of 2021, a bill to cover the costs for veterans who travel from underserved rural areas to the closest veterans center, along with a pilot program which allows the VA to accept donations of facilities and related improvements. In addition, the bill would extend permanently the VA’s authority to offer dental insurance for veterans and survivors and dependents of veterans.
Voted YES to pass S.189, the Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2021, a bill to increase the rates of veteran’s disability compensation, compensation for dependents, clothing allowance, dependent and indemnity compensation to surviving spouses and children. It would do so by tethering increases in such payments to cost of living adjustments (COLA) for Social Security recipients.
Voted YES to pass H.R.3469, the Veteran Entrepreneurship Training Act of 2021, a bill to codify the Boots to Business Program. The Boots to Business Program is a two-day, in person entrepreneurship program offered by the Small Business Administration as part of the Department of Defense’s Transition Assistance Program. Initially launched in 2012, the Boots to Business program connects individuals with potential Small Business Administration including access to capital, counseling, and training. In FY 2020, 21,799 Veterans, Service Members, and military spouses participated in the two-day course.
Voted YES to pass H.R.4035, the Real Justice for Our Veterans Act of 2021, a bill to create a pilot program to seek to increase retention rates of Veterans in veterans treatment courts and drug court programs. This bill will also require the Department of Justice to report to Congress on the effectiveness of veterans treatment programs modified by the bill.
Voted YES to pass H.R.5142, a bill to award posthumously a Congressional Gold Medal, in commemoration to the service members who perished in Afghanistan on August 26, 2021, during the evacuation of citizens of the United States and Afghan allies at Hamid Karzai International Airport, and for other purposes.
Voted YES to pass H.R.1029, the Free Veterans from Fees Act, a bill to waive any fees for Veterans’ special events at the War Memorials in Washington, D.C. These memorials are “any memorial or monument which has been erected or dedicated to commemorate a military unit, military group, war, conflict, victory, or peace.” Typically, fees are assessed by the National Park Service for the use of special use permits, however, this waives those fees for veterans’ service organizations.
For more legislative actions, click here.