U.S. Congressman Brian Mast (FL-18) announced the introduction of three pieces of legislation to support veterans in Florida’s 18th Congressional District and across the country. The trio of bills are aimed at increasing access to services, enhancing efficiency, and tackling the ongoing mental health crisis.
“Hardly a day goes by when I don’t receive a call from a veteran who needs help navigating the red tape of the VA. It’s clear that our system is not meeting their needs, and when it comes to treating mental health, that can be deadly,” said Mast. “We owe it to them to explore creative solutions to ensure that they have the care that they need, which is why I’m introducing these bills.”
The Improving Veterans Access to Congress Act empowers Members of Congress to open satellite offices in VA medical centers, providing veterans more direct access to their Members of Congress and the services they provide. Congressman Mast previously opened a first-of-its-kind Congressional office inside a VA facility, and this bill would ensure other Members of Congress are able to do the same.
The Oath of Exit Act would provide a network of support for veterans struggling with mental health and help stop the stigma surrounding mental health issues among veterans by creating an “oath of exit” to commit those separating from service to support their fellow veterans.
The Leadership Evaluation At Department of Veterans’ Affairs (LEAD VA) Act would establish a pilot program in which active duty military officers run VA medical centers to improve the level of care received by veterans at those facilities.
Congressman Mast served in the U.S. Army for more than 12 years, earning medals including The Bronze Star Medal, The Army Commendation Medal for Valor, The Purple Heart Medal, and The Defense Meritorious Service Medal. While deployed in Afghanistan, he worked as a bomb disposal expert under the elite Joint Special Operations Command.