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Woodall talks VA woes, immigration
District 7 U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall recently addressed a gathering of the Cumming chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America. - photo by For the Forsyth County News


The local Vietnam Veterans of America chapter meets the first Monday of each month at the Golden Corral Restaurant on Market Place Boulevard. Dinner is at 6 p.m. followed by a 7 p.m. meeting, which is open to all Vietnam-era vets.

CUMMING — U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall opened his remarks at the August meeting of the Cumming Vietnam Veterans group by acknowledging that the current atmosphere in the nation’s capital means that it’s “hard to make things happen in Washington.”

Woodall, whose 7th District includes south Forsyth, said the scandals revolving around the quality of patient care and improper activities related to timely scheduling of appointments at the Atlanta, Phoenix and other VA hospitals was shocking to him and everyone in the House of Representatives and Senate.

That's why both chambers, which can rarely agree on anything, voted to allow veterans who live far away from VA health facilities, or those not receiving timely care, to access treatment at non-VA facilities.

According to Woodall, that will mean a $10 billion commitment, but America needs to keep its promises to military veterans.

The new law also puts an end to automatic pay raises and bonuses for VA managers and gives the agency more ability in hiring and firing.

"I have been incredibly touched by the bipartisan response to the mess at the VA," Woodall said.

The congressman did lament, however, that the nation remains divided.

"I'm concerned about that,” he said. “You need look no further than immigration as an example."

Woodall went on to say that although the House voted to deal with the crisis on the southern border, the measure won't become law because the Senate is on a five-week recess.

To Woodall, expedited removal of illegal immigrants is one way to send the message that can stop it.

"We need the kind of robust immigration policy that encourages people to do it the right way,” he said.

According to Woodall, many countries have immigration laws that allow them to choose who is allowed into the country — in most cases, those with talents and skills needed to advance the economy. In the United States, he said, “[we] are uncomfortable picking and choosing."

For all its problems, America still is the greatest country on Earth and that's why the rest of the world wants to come here, Woodall said.

Asked about reports that the Pentagon was sending pink slips to Army officers in combat zones as part of a reduction measure, Congressman Woodall said he couldn’t imagine a circumstance where that would be the right thing to do.