As a U.S. Army veteran, I felt it necessary to respond to a recent op-ed in The York Dispatch that falsely depicted Sen. Pat Toomey's record on veteran issues.
First, Sen. Toomey has never voted against a bill that specifically and soley funds the Veterans Administration (VA). In fact, it was just last month that Toomey voted in favor of the bipartisan McCain/Sanders legislation that reforms the VA by giving veterans flexibility to choose doctors and medical facilities and lets the VA fire employees. The bill funds new VA facilities, doctors and other medical professionals.
Sen. Toomey also took it upon himself to address the problems at the VA by introducing his own bill, which provides veterans who have been wronged by the VA the ability to hold decision-makers accountable for their actions.
Frequently and unfortunately, Democratic leadership in the Senate lump worthy funding programs, like veterans programs, in huge funding bills loaded with pork barrel projects the big spenders love. I, for one, support the responsible use of taxpayer dollars and am encouraged by Sen. Toomey's efforts to advocate for efficient budgeting.
The previous op-ed was wrong about Sen. Toomey's work to eliminate the backlog of disability claims in the VA. Sen. Toomey has worked diligently to eliminate the backlog.
As a member of the bipartisan VA Backlog Working Group, he and other lawmakers, veterans and veterans service organizations have introduced legislation to tackle the backlog of disability claims within the VA head on. Any claim that funding shortfalls are to blame for this backlog would be comical if they weren't so dangerous. VA funding is at an all-time high and even President Obama has mentioned that funding for the VA is not the problem with the difficulties the agency is shouldering.
Sen. Toomey reached across the aisle and passed real assistance to veterans. As a member of the bipartisan Senate Veterans Lobs Caucus, Toomey worked with the Department of Labor to create an individual website that specifically matches veterans and employers based upon the veterans' military occupation. Additionally, last year, it was Toomey who ensured that a reckless cut to military retirees' pensions was restored and worked to have legislation passed that preserved tuition payments for active duty military. Finally, it was Pat Toomey who wrote a bill to enhance protections for VA patients from sexual assault.
False attacks motivated by politics are unfortunate, especially when veterans issues are the basis for the argument. The truth is that Sen. Pat. Toomey stands up for veterans and has worked tirelessly on behalf of them. I appreciate Sen. Toomey's work and appreciate all he does.
— Dirk E. Slack is a resident of Manchester Township.