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
(Washington) Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) released the following statement in response to reports that the Administration is negotiating with the Lao People's Democratic Republic to deport long-time Lao and Hmong residents of the United States:
(WASHINGTON) - Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) released the following statement after Gov. Newsom's announcement of $11.5 million in emergency grants to address the homeless crisis in Fresno:
The 99-year-old World War II veteran and Pearl Harbor survivor used a walker as he made his way slowly to the front of the room, amid hugs and kisses. The look on his face was one of awe, wonder and tearful happiness.
Family members, friends and fellow veterans gathered for the surprise ceremony to honor Paredes and present him with a series of medals he earned in wartime overseas but never received during in his long life back in America.
The Atwater resident served in the Unites States Army from 1941 to 1945.
WASHINGTON) – Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16), introduced H.R. 4204, The Special Guerrilla Units (SGU) Service Recognition Expansion Act, bipartisan legislation that expands eligibility for interment in national cemeteries to all Hmong and Lao citizens who fought in support of the United States during the Vietnam War. Currently, only Hmong and Lao SGU Veterans who became naturalized citizens after the Hmong Veterans Naturalization Act of 2000 are eligible to receive burial benefits.
Fresno, CA – Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) launched his annual holiday card drive for servicemembers and veterans today, continuing what has become a Valley holiday tradition.
Each year, Rep. Costa invites residents of California’s San Joaquin Valley to drop off or mail holiday cards to his Fresno and Merced district offices to be delivered to servicemembers and veterans. Costa also partners with local schools in Fresno, Merced, and Madera counties, where students make cards to thank these Valley heroes and wish them a happy holiday season.
Merced, CA – Today, Donald Heran received the Congressional Gold Medal in Merced for his World War II service to the United States as a pilot with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the predecessor to the CIA and the U.S. Special Operations Command.
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.