Brigid Callahan Harrison on Veterans Affairs

I am the proud daughter of a “tin can sailor,” who was a signalman during the D-Day invasion of Normandy, one of the greatest maritime battles in Naval history. My father, John Callahan, was one link in my family’s legacy of service in our nation’s armed forces that traces back to the Pennsylvania Infantry during the Civil War, and extends to my own daughter, who is currently attending the United States Naval Academy in preparation for a career as an officer in the US Navy.

My philosophy concerning veterans is simple: policymakers have the responsibility to value the lives and well-being of every member of the Armed Forces as if they were their own son or daughter. In Washington, I will advocate for foreign policy that driven by respect for the expertise of military leaders in consultation with expert civilian policymakers.

Active duty military and veterans need our help making a solid transition to civilian life, and this includes access to educational and employment opportunities. They deserve first-class healthcare, counseling, and rehabilitation, and these services should be easily accessible to the over 35,000 veterans who live in our area.

While some veterans’ services in our district succeed at filling our promise to veterans, sometimes Washington falls short in honoring our veterans by failing to ensure that they have the support they need. This is particularly true of veterans suffering from the psychological scars of war, and Washington needs to do better to help those afflicted with PTSD, Depression, and Traumatic Brain Injury so that the unseen wounds of war can heal and veterans can lead fulfilling lives.

For veterans who find themselves enmeshed in the criminal justice system, I will advocate for an expansion of the Veteran Court programs, which seek to rehabilitate and restore veterans as active, contributing members of their community by addressing the underlying causes of the veteran’s behavior, including substance abuse and combat-induced psychological issues.

In Congress, I will advocate for the resources needed by our Coast Guard Training Facility in Cape May. I will fight for our veterans and support fixing the Department of Veterans Affairs, including improving systems that would make it easier for veterans to receive care in our district. I would also advocate for increased services for female veterans and the expansion of telehealth programs, which enable veterans to access health services even when they are separated from their providers by geographical distance.

As the Congress member from the second congressional district, I will appoint a Veterans Ombudsperson to help active duty military and veterans in our district navigate the federal benefit systems.