Members of a local veterans group were able to get some questions answered by their congressman this week.
On Monday evening, American Legion Post 307 welcomed District 7 Rep. Rob Woodall at the group’s first meeting at the Sgt. David P. Land Memorial Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #82 on Castleberry Industrial Drive.
Woodall spoke on several conservative policy victories made since the election of President Donald Trump, such as the relocation of the United States’ Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which opened early Monday.
“It’s a big day today. I’ve been watching that news,” Woodall said. “Newt Gingrich, when he was speaker of the House in the 1990s, passed the legislation making [Jerusalem] the official location of the United States’ embassy, but it’s been waved in the name of national security for two decades, with presidents on both sides saying, ‘Now’s not the right time’ … You know what? Things that are hard, it’s almost never the right time.”
Woodall told the group the “first audit in the history of the Defense Department” would soon wrap up to see where money is going.
“Things get lost. Tanks get lost. Planes get lost,” he said. “It’s not a perfectly efficient organization. We have been clamping down on those dollars to try to squeeze some efficiencies out of the system.”
He said military funds will go toward $25 billion for new equipment and $137 billion in payroll for the “largest pay raise in a decade.”
“These conversations we’re having with North Korea, this moving the embassy to Jerusalem, these things are not happening in a vacuum,” Woodall said. “These things are happening as world leaders recognized that the United States already was investing more per-capita than any other nation on the planet, and now we’re spending even more money per-capita to make sure our diplomats are backed up with a military that speaks with one voice.”
Woodall also responded to questions from members of the group about the Department of Veterans Affairs and said there was a disconnect between older and younger veterans on whether to fix issues with the department or to move to a system allowing veterans to go to alternative sources if they cannot be seen by the VA in 30 days or if the VA’s closest facility is challenging to access.
“Many of my older veterans say, ‘Rob, the Veterans’ Choice program is undermining the stability of the VA. I want the VA to be successful. Stop paying private doctors more money. Make the VA more successful like you promised me you would,’” he said. “Younger veterans are kind of the opposite: ‘I’ve got relationships in my community, let me stay there.’
“We are paying more in the Veteran’s Choice program. It’s not cheaper. It’s just the right thing to do to not make people stand in line.”