U.S. House of Representatives and the United States Senate
In 2019, these Representatives and Senators were at the front and center on veterans’ issues and/or are dynamic veterans themselves. During challenging times at VA, and with more than 17 years at war, these members are on the leading edge of the policies that affect our nation’s servicemembers and veterans.
Senator Doug Jones and Senator Susan Collins
Since his election to the Senate in a special election held on December 12, 2017, Senator Doug Jones has brought his lifelong passion for justice and commitment to service to his role in the United States Senate. He understands that public service is a privilege that comes with the responsibility of making the country better for all Americans, regardless of their backgrounds or political views.
First elected in 1996, Senator Collins has earned a national reputation as an effective legislator who works across party lines to seek consensus on our nation’s most important issues. For the past six consecutive years, Senator Collins has ranked as the most bipartisan member of the U.S. Senate by the Lugar Center and Georgetown University. Her record demonstrates significant legislative accomplishments in such critical areas as homeland security, national defense, disaster response, education, business development, health care, and issues of particular interest to our nation’s seniors.
On December 19, 2019 Senator Jones and Senator Collins announced the inclusion of their bipartisan Military Widow’s Tax Elimination Act in the final annual defense bill, known as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). It marked a significant step in the 18-year effort to pass legislation to repeal the law that penalizes our nation’s Gold Star families by preventing them from receiving the full survivor benefits they have earned and paid for.
Under Senator Jones’ leadership, the bill earned a record-high 78 total cosponsors in the Senate. Since introducing the bill with Republican Senator Susan Collins in March, they have worked tirelessly to garner support among their colleagues in both the Senate and House as well as make the case on behalf of the 67,000 surviving spouses who are impacted by the military widow’s tax. Most recently, Senator Jones led an effort on the Senate floor to call for inclusion of the repeal in the final defense bill. His proposal passed by a vote of 94-0. The NDAA was then signed and approved by President Donal Trump on December 20, 2019, passing the repeal of the Widow’s Tax thanks to the hard work and dedication of both Senator Jones and Collins.
Representative Chrissy Houlahan and Representative Jack Bergman
Chrissy Houlahan is an Air Force veteran, engineer, entrepreneur, and educator who is continuing her career of service as the first woman ever to represent Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District.
Rep. Houlahan founded the Servicewomen and Women Veterans Congressional Caucus to consider and enact policy that protects and elevates brave women and honors what they have given to this country. As a member of the U.S. House Committee on Armed Services, she championed legislation accepted into the National Defense Authorization Act that expanded the Women’s Health Transition Program pilot and supported expanding access to child care.
Chrissy is a leader driven by a spirit of service. She’s a mom, a longtime resident of Southeastern Pennsylvania, and a first-time congressional representative for the people and communities of Pennsylvania
Whether serving as a Three-Star General in the Marine Corps, carrying passengers safely from one destination to another as a pilot for Northwest, or starting his own business in the medical equipment field, Jack Bergman has always been committed to serving others. He’s always been mission- and results-motivated, and as Representative of Michigan’s First Congressional District, that means supporting policies and practices that work for Michiganders. Jack is a Constitutional conservative who is adamant that public service should be about people and not about process. He believes that government’s role is to protect individual rights, to secure a free market economy that creates jobs and opportunities for success, and empower “We the People”—and not politicians or special interest groups—to make decisions about their lives and livelihoods.
In June 2019, Representative Houlahan and RepresentativeBergman introduced the IMPROVE Well-Being for Veterans Act (Incorporating Measurements and Providing Resources for Outreach to Veterans Everywhere) in the U.S. House of Representatives. This bill would fundamentally enhance coordination and planning of veteran mental health and suicide prevention services and would develop measurement tools to track the effectiveness of these community-level programs in order to address the suicide crisis and its impact on veterans.
Representative Ruben Gallego
Congressman Ruben Gallego is the son of Hispanic immigrants, a veteran, and a community leader. He was the first in his family to attend college, graduating from Harvard University with a degree in International Relations. He later joined the Marine Corps, serving in Iraq with the well-known combat unit Lima 3/25.In his first year in Congress, Congressman Gallego introduced the VETS Act, which would reduce the burden of student loan debt on veterans and has supported legislation to increase the hiring of veterans and provide additional benefits to wounded or deceased veterans and their families.
This past year, Congressman Gallego has been a strong advocate for Native American veterans. As the Chair of the Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples and an Iraq War veteran, he introduced HR 4908, the Native American Veteran Parity in Access to Care Today (PACT) Act. This legislation would end the practice of charging American Indian and Alaska Native veterans a copayment for receiving care at the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). Gallego has been a fierce advocate for passage of this legislation. Currently, Native American veterans have to pay copayments when accessing health care that should be completely paid for by the Veterans Affairs Administration. This means the federal government is not only breaking its promise to them as veterans, but also the promise of free health care guaranteed in hundreds of broken treaties. His bill is critical to increasing access and affordability of health care to Native Veterans.
Senator John Boozman
Senator John Boozman is the senior United States senator for Arkansas, and a member of the Republican Party. First elected to the Senate in 2010, John was sworn in for a second term on January 3, 2017. Prior to serving in the Senate, he represented the people of the Third District of Arkansas in the U.S. House of Representatives.
As the son of an Air Force Master Sergeant, John learned at an early age about the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform, as well as the unique challenges military families face. He graduated from the Southern College of Optometry in 1977 and entered private practice that same year co-founding a family business with his brother that would ultimately become a major provider of eye care to Northwest Arkansas.
Senator Boozman is the ranking Republican on the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Subcommittee on Commodities, Risk Management and Trade and the Senate Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies. He is also a senior member of the United States Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.
Representative Dan Crenshaw
From an early age, Congressman Dan Crenshaw knew that he wanted to serve his country with the most elite fighting force in history: the U.S. Navy SEALs. His father’s career in the Texas oil and gas industry moved his family all over the world, including Ecuador and Colombia, where he attended high school. In 2006, Congressman Crenshaw graduated from Tufts University, where he earned his Naval officer commission through Navy ROTC. Following graduation, he immediately reported to SEAL training in Coronado, CA, where he met his future wife, Tara. After graduating SEAL training, Congressman Crenshaw deployed to Fallujah, Iraq to join SEAL Team Three, his first of five deployments overseas. On Congressman Crenshaw’s third deployment in 2012, his life changed forever. After six months of combat operations, he was hit by an IED blast during a mission in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was evacuated and awoke from his medically induced coma learning that his right eye had been destroyed in the blast and his left eye was badly damaged. Congressman Crenshaw was completely blind and the doctors did not believe he would ever see again. After several difficult surgeries and months of fighting a tough diagnosis, Dan eventually regained sight in his left eye, a miracle according to the head surgeon. Congressman Crenshaw went on to deploy twice more, first back to the Middle East in 2014 and then South Korea in 2016. Congressman Crenshaw was medically retired in September of 2016 as a Lieutenant Commander after serving ten years in the SEAL Teams. He left service with two Bronze Stars (one with Valor), the Purple Heart, and the Navy Commendation Medal with Valor, among others. Soon after, Congressman Crenshaw completed his Master’s in Public Administration at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. In November 2018, Congressman Crenshaw was elected to represent the people of Texas’s Second Congressional District. In Congress, he was appointed to the Homeland Security Committee and the Budget Committee. He was also named Ranking Member of the Oversight, Management, and Accountability Subcommittee of the Homeland Security Committee. Through his work on these committees he is focused on border security, disaster relief funding, port security, cutting frivolous spending and implementing fiscally responsible policies.
Representative Elaine Luria
U.S. Rep. Elaine Luria represents Virginia’s Second Congressional District. Prior to her election in 2018, Rep. Luria served two decades in the Navy, retiring at the rank of Commander. Rep. Luria served at sea on six ships as a nuclear-trained Surface Warfare Officer, deployed to the Middle East and Western Pacific, and culminated her Navy career by commanding a combat-ready unit of 400 sailors. A member of the House Armed Services Committee and the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Rep. Luria was one of the first women in the Navy’s nuclear power program and among the first women to serve the entirety of her career in combatant ships. She leads the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs, and is Vice Chair of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces. Of all members in the House Democratic Caucus, she served the longest on active duty, having completed 20 years of active military service with the U.S. Navy. Rep. Luria graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and received a master’s in engineering management from Old Dominion University. Rep. Luria’s office has helped recoup $917,000+ in benefits and back pay for constituents in the 2nd District since January 2019. Rep. Luria was also involved with the passage of the Bluewater Navy Vietnam Veterans’ Act, which benefits certain Vietnam-era veterans exposed to Agent Orange, and a cost-of-living adjustment for disabled veterans.