Serving Valley Veterans
Our Valley’s veterans hail from all backgrounds and represent what is great about our nation. The debt we owe to these selfless individuals and their families is immeasurable and we must always deliver on the promises made to those who stand up to protect our freedom and values.
Every day we have the responsibility to assist our service members and it is my personal mission to help our Valley’s veterans access the benefits they have earned and deserve. Since taking office, I have helped over 1,000 Valley veterans cut through red tape at the Veterans Administration (VA) or other federal agencies to access their health care, social security checks, and even medals. If you or a veteran you know is having difficulty with the VA or federal government, I encourage you to call my office in Fresno at (559) 495-1620.
Along with working with our veterans personally, I have fought to secure funding for programs and pass legislation that will benefit members of our armed services.
Fresno Veterans Home
One of the greatest achievements for our veterans can be found right here in our Valley. After we fought to secure $92 million in funding and a location, I was able to join with local veterans and leaders to break ground on the first ever Veterans Home in Fresno County. In 2013, we opened the Fresno Veterans Home, which includes a 120-bed nursing home and a 180-bed domiciliary. Construction of the home created nearly 1000 jobs in the Fresno area.
Reducing the VA Backlog
Veterans in the Central Valley know all too well the severe backlogs that plague the Oakland and Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Regional Offices. When the VA announced that not one California benefits office would implement a pilot program to reduce the backlog, I urged the VA to reverse its decision and received a commitment from the VA for additional staff and training at the Oakland office. I also instructed the government watchdog agency to investigate the Los Angeles office and provide recommendations for how to reduce the backlog.
Legislation for Veterans
With over one million unemployed veterans in the United States today, it is imperative for us to find ways in which we can ease their transition to civilian life. One of the best ways to facilitate that transition is by helping them find gainful employment. That’s why I was proud to support the VOW to Hire Heroes Act. This law helps our veterans by expanding education and training programs; educating separating service members on how their military skills and training can be easily adapted in civilian life; allowing service members to begin the federal employment process prior to their separation; and providing a veterans tax credit to businesses that hire veterans.
The President also signed another bill that passed the House with my strong support, the Restoring GI Bill Fairness Act of 2011. In 2008, Congress passed the Post-9/11 GI Bill, landmark legislation that restored the promise of a four-year education for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This law builds upon the success of the Post-9/11 GI Bill by increasing the amount of educational assistance available to student veterans attending private universities and colleges.
Because just one veteran falling asleep at night without a permanent roof over his or her head is one veteran too many, I fought to secure $1 million to help homeless and at-risk veteran families in the Valley find sustainable, stable housing. Ending homelessness among veterans and their families once and for all must be a national goal.
On the battlefield, the military pledges to leave no soldier behind. Let it be our pledge that when they return home, we leave no veteran behind.
More on Serving Valley Veterans
By: Agnes Constante
Hmong and Laotian veterans who fought alongside the United States during a “secret war” in Laos against North Vietnamese forces celebrated a legislative victory last month after the passage of a bill that allows them to be buried in national cemeteries.
Fresno, CA – Yesterday, Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) was joined by Special Guerrilla Unit (SGU) veterans and veterans organization leaders to announce and celebrate the enactment of the Hmong Veterans’ Service Recognition Act as incorporated into last week’s appropriations law.
Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) continued his advocacy for securing Hmong and Lao American veterans recognition and honor for serving alongside American armed forces in the Vietnam War. Taking to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Costa called on his colleagues to support the Hmong Veterans’ Service Recognition Act. Costa introduced this bipartisan legislation with Congressman Paul Cook (CA-8) to extend veterans burial benefits in national cemeteries to these Hmong and Lao American veterans.
Fresno, CA — Today Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) hosted a press conference in front of the Lao Hmong American War Memorial in Fresno County’s Courthouse Park as part of his ongoing efforts to honor Hmong and Lao American veterans. Rep. Costa was joined by Mr.
WASHINGTON, DC – Yesterday Congressman Jim Costa (D-CA-16) was joined by Vietnam veteran Congressman Paul Cook (R-CA-8) in introducing H. R. 4716, the Hmong Veterans’ Service Recognition Act. The bipartisan legislation would extend to Hmong and Lao Americans who served alongside U.S. Armed Forces during the Vietnam War burial benefits in national cemeteries.
WASHINGTON, DC – Today Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) launched his annual holiday card drive for San Joaquin Valley servicemembers and veterans. In what is now a yearly tradition, Congressman Costa collects holiday cards at his Fresno and Merced district offices to be delivered to servicemembers and veterans receiving care at the VA Medical Center in Fresno. In addition to inviting residents of California’s 16th Congressional District to mail or drop cards off at his district offices, Rep.
Washington, DC – Yesterday the U.S. House of Representatives passed H. R. 3218, the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017. The legislation is the largest update to the GI Bill since the passage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill in 2008, making extensive changes to the education benefits provisions. The bill is referred to as the “Forever GI Bill” due to its elimination of the 15 year deadline by which veterans must use their education benefits.
WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. House of Representatives passed S. 1094, the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017, by a vote of 368 to 55 on Tuesday. The bill, which passed in the U.S. Senate by a voice vote earlier this month, uses two different approaches to strengthen the ability of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to hold department employees accountable when their misconduct, negligence, or incompetence jeopardizes the well-being of veterans.
The Korean War had been raging for two years when Riverdale native Bill Robinett spent his first night in a trench in Korea. He was 22 and scared.
“It was very scary, of course, especially the first week and first night,” says Robinett, now 85 and living in Fresno. “We were in our trench and they (North Koreans) were in their trench about a quarter-mile away and it was a case of who could shoot the most at each other.
Bill Robinett of Fresno is a Korean War veteran who will be traveling to Washington, D.C. with the Central Valley Honor Flight.