WASHINGTON, D.C.—Delegate Madeleine Z. Bordallo, together with Delegate Aumua Amata (R-AS) and Delegate Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (D-CNMI), wrote to Chairman Phil Roe and Ranking Member Tim Walz of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs requesting an oversight hearing to examine the challenges facing veterans residing in Guam, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Independent Samoa, and the Freely Associated States. The Representatives noted that these areas suffer from minimal involvement by the national Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
“Veterans in Guam and the Pacific territories should be treated equitably with their counterparts in the mainland, and receive the level of benefits they have earned from their service to our nation,” said Bordallo. “Unfortunately our veterans continue to experience significant challenges, especially in receiving timely and accessible health care. While I was successful in obtaining funding to remodel and expand Guam’s CBOC and in requiring the GAO to review the level of care provided to veterans in the Pacific, both of which are ongoing, I have been frustrated by continued short staffing levels on Guam and lack of resources dedicated to the needs of our veterans. I hope the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee will work diligently to provide appropriate oversight for the concerns on Guam, American Samoa, the CNMI, and other Pacific islands. I look forward to working with Congresswoman Amata and Congressman Sablan, and the Veterans Affairs Committee, to improve services provided to veterans in the Pacific.”
“American Samoans enlist in the United States Army at a rate higher than any other place in the United States. American Samoa has also one of the highest percentage of veteran population of any area of the United States. Yet veterans in American Samoa must travel over 2,500 miles to receive care in Hawai’i, and that’s not to mention the lack of any benefits guidance by the VA counselors in Americans Samoa. American Samoans have served with distinction in the US Armed Forces for over a hundred years. It’s time they received the care that they are owed,” said Amata.
“The Northern Marianas is the only U.S. jurisdiction without a VA clinic, dedicated VA medical or mental health professionals, or a Vet Center,” said Congressman Sablan. “Our veterans have to travel to Guam or Hawaii to receive basic medical care. The VA must do more for the veterans in the Northern Marianas who served our country with honor and distinction. Veterans in the Pacific territories are entitled to the benefits they earned and should be able to access those benefits where they live.”
Amata and Sablan are members of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and sit on the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs. Additionally, Amata sits on the Subcommittee on Health and Congressman Sablan serves on the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. (PR)