Byrne: Taking care of our veterans is a top priority
My brother Dale is one of my heroes. He served our state and nation for decades in the Army and in the Alabama National Guard. Unfortunately, he contracted an illness while serving our nation overseas, and the illness ultimately took his life in 2013 at just 62 years old.
The issues that impact Alabama’s veterans are deeply personal to me. I always think about Dale when I talk with our veterans, and I consider my work to make life better for our veterans one way I can honor Dale’s legacy. Taking care of our veterans is a top priority.
Thankfully, Alabamians have an exceptional partner in President Trump when it comes to improving care for our veterans. President Trump has done more for our nation’s veterans than any modern-day president. Make no mistake: he inherited an absolute mess from President Obama. The VA system across the nation was in turmoil, and we were experiencing serious issues for veterans right here in Alabama.
The Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System in Montgomery was one of the absolute worst in the entire country. There were horror stories including extreme wait times to receive care, unread X-rays, falsified patient records, and unpaid bills. Most of you probably remember the horrible story of a Montgomery VA employee taking a recovering veteran to a crack house to buy illegal drugs. All these serious issues were happening right here in Alabama.
President Trump put his foot down and said enough is enough. He demanded accountability at the VA. He made changes in leadership, fired failed employees, made it easier for whistleblowers to report abuse, fixed backlogs in the system and ultimately reformed the culture of complacency that had plagued the VA for too long. I couldn’t have been prouder to vote for the VA Mission Act, which put many of these reforms in place.
He has also championed an idea that I am very passionate about. President Trump is a believer in giving our veterans choices and allowing them to seek medical care outside the broken VA bureaucracy. Instead of forcing veterans to drive hundreds of miles to a VA facility, President Trump is working to make it easier for veterans to seek medical care from doctors or hospitals in their local community. This is critically important for our veterans who live in rural areas.
Another example of President Trump’s commitment to our veterans is the Mobile VA outpatient clinic in Mobile. I have worked closely with the Trump Administration to make the new clinic a reality. After years of local veterans along the Gulf Coast being forced to receive care from an outdated facility in Mobile, just this spring we celebrated the grand opening of a new, state-of-the-art VA clinic that is making life easier for our veterans. It was on President Trump’s watch that we opened this new clinic.
The list of successes under President Trump goes on and on: a new 24/7 White House VA hotline, establishing a new VA Office for Whistleblower Protection and Accountability, enhancing and expanding post-9/11 GI Bill benefits, and an increased focus on ending veteran homelessness. There is zero doubt that our nation’s veterans are better off under President Trump.
There’s more that President Trump can do in his second term. As your senator, I promise to work with the president to hold VA bureaucrats accountable, increase veteran access to medical care in their local community, and ensure our veterans receive the best care possible.
I know I can’t bring my brother Dale back, but I can always honor his legacy by supporting and taking care of our Alabama veterans. And with the continued leadership of President Trump, that is exactly what I will do.