Rep. Mike Bost (R-Ill.), the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, and Rep. Greg Murphy (R-N.C.), led a letter to Chairman Takano urging him to bring the Committee back to Washington, D.C. immediately to conduct a full committee hearing on veteran mental health following the events in Afghanistan.
Additional co-signers of the letter include: Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Mich.), Rep. Barry Moore (R-Ala.), Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), Rep. Matthew Rosendale, Sr. (MT at-large), Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Iowa), and Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-Tex.).
“As the world bears witness to the Biden Administration’s failure in Afghanistan, the VA Committee must be laser focused on supporting the veterans who served there,” said Ranking Member Bost. “We know this continued crisis is already taking a toll on veterans’ mental health. That’s why I joined my colleagues in calling on Chairman Takano to hold a hearing to ensure the men and women who served have what they need to cope. We should have no higher priority.”
“As a physician of more than 30 years, I am deeply concerned about the psychological impact that President Biden’s failed withdrawal is having on veterans and active-duty service members across the country,” said Rep. Murphy. “I represent over 89,000 veterans in North Carolina’s Third District, which includes Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. Every day I am hearing from veterans and their loved ones who express serious concern regarding ongoing events in Afghanistan. As members of HVAC, we have an obligation to provide resources for our veterans and assure them that they are not alone. There is never any shame in asking for help. I urge Chairman Takano to call our committee back to Washington immediately so we can hear from experts and discuss much-needed veteran mental health services in the wake of this crisis — we simply cannot afford to wait.”
“Those who honorably served in Afghanistan deserve our appreciation and support,” said Rep. Ellzey. “They did not fail our country. Washington did. The untold impact that this withdrawal will have on our service members must be addressed.”
“Mental health in our veteran community has always been a challenge. For decades we have worked to improve mental health access and services for our veterans,” said Rep. Miller-Meeks. “Over the last few weeks, the world has watched Afghanistan become a true crisis. I have spoken to many veterans and active-duty soldiers who served in Afghanistan and they need to know that we support them and their sacrifice to our country.”
“The American people owe a great debt to our veterans, and Congress cannot let them down during this extremely emotional and painful period” said Rep. Moore. “The House Veterans Affairs Committee must reconvene immediately to examine the impacts of our failed Afghanistan retreat on the mental health of our veterans. Congress must send the clear message to all those who served that their sacrifices will never be forgotten and our joint resolve to support them is unshaken.”
Full text of the letter the Members sent can be found below:
Dear Chairman Takano,
As our nation bears witness to President Biden’s failed withdrawal from Afghanistan, our nation’s veterans are being bombarded with devastating images of retreat resulting in the loss of life and liberty. As a result, many veterans have understandably expressed fear, stress, disdain, or regret about their service, worrying if their sacrifices and the loss of their fellow servicemembers occurred in vain.
Needless to say, this is an incredibly painful time for our servicemembers and veterans, particularly those who served in Afghanistan and Iraq over the past 20 years. Our hearts are with them and also with all the Gold Star families and loved ones of servicemembers and veterans across the country.
As we mourn the sacrifice that our selfless soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are making in Kabul, we are deeply concerned about the psychological impact that this foreign policy disaster is having on our nation’s veterans at home. With this in mind, we urge you to bring the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee (HVAC) back to Washington, D.C. immediately to conduct a full committee hearing on the short and long-term implications of this devastating debacle on veteran mental health and ensure veterans are aware of the many resources VA has to offer them during this challenging time.
The hearing should include Secretary McDonough, leaders from the veteran community like the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, and individual servicemembers and veterans who can speak to the immediate and long-term effects of the stress and trauma they are undergoing.
We must convey to our nation’s veterans that their service and sacrifice have not been in vain, and that despite political failures in Washington, they are heroes that have indeed accomplished their mission in Afghanistan and left the world a better, safer place.
Thank you for your consideration and attention to this pressing matter. As the tragic situation in Afghanistan continues to unfold, I look forward to your prompt reply.