Congresswoman Luria Fights for Key Seapower and Veteran Priorities in Committee Hearings

February 10, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Elaine Luria had a productive week on the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs (HVAC) and the House Armed Services Committee (HASC). Over the last few days, the Congresswoman introduced a bill to give veterans more information higher education options, questioned Navy leadership about military readiness, and highlighted struggles that military sexual trauma (MST) survivors face as they pursue VA claims.

On Wednesday morning, Congresswoman Luria participated in the HVAC Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations & Women Veterans Task Force joint oversight hearing. There, Congresswoman Luria detailed specific challenges that survivors of military sexual trauma (MST) experience.

One of these challenges is that MST survivors often have trouble designating an alternative representative, such as a medical professional or a lawyer, to provide the VA information regarding their claims. This forces MST survivors to relive painful memories of the sexual trauma they endured, while they tell their stories to claim agents. Congresswoman Luria highlighted that while survivors are permitted to have alternative representatives, many of them are unable to utilize one to detail their claims. Through her questioning, the Congresswoman showed this is due to issues regarding the interpretation of the rules and the training of claim agents.

“It is unacceptable that during the claims process, MST survivors are routinely forced to re-live the trauma they experienced,” Congresswoman Luria said. “The VA must work to make the rules clear, so that all claim agents know that survivors can utilize alternative representation as they pursue their claims.”

Click above to watch Congresswoman Luria’s questioning of VA officials.

The next hearing was at the HASC Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee where Congresswoman Luria serves as Vice Chair. During the hearing, Congresswoman Luria questioned Navy leadership about key surface Navy readiness issues.

Congresswoman Luria pressed Vice Admiral Richard Brown for answers on unit readiness of the Pacific Fleet. Responding to Vice Admiral Brown’s “A” grade for the combat effectiveness of the surface Navy, Congresswoman Luria cited a concerning statistic. In a 2018 test of seamanship skills, only 27 of 164 junior surface warriors were able to pass without concerns. She then quoted from a February 2019 report from the Readiness Council that described the surface Navy as only “safe to operate.” Throughout the hearing, Congresswoman Luria continued to question Vice Admiral Brown about specific details of readiness and training. This culminated when the Congresswoman asked the Vice Admiral about why the Navy had not adopted the recommendations from the Strategic Readiness Review or the Comprehensive Review.

Click above to watch Congresswoman Luria question Vice Admiral Brown.

For additional footage of Congresswoman Luria’s questioning of Vice Admiral Brown, click here.

On Thursday, Congresswoman Luria introduced a bill through the HVAC Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity. Her bill, the GI Bill Comparison Tool Data MOU Act, would give veterans the resources to help them choose the best educational options that best fits their needs. It expands access to critical data, such as graduation rates, transfer rates, and post-graduation employment statistics.

“The GI Bill Comparison Tool Data MOU Act is an important step that provides our bravest men and women with the best available information to allow them to make informed decisions about their education,” Congresswoman Luria said. “Pursuing higher education is a massive commitment of time and energy. We must ensure that our veterans have all the relevant data needed before using their GI Bill Benefits.”

Click above to watch Congresswoman Luria speak about her GI Bill Comparison Tool Data MOU Act

Congresswoman Elaine Luria represents Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District. She serves on the House Armed Services Committee, where she is the Vice Chair of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, and the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, where she serves as Chair of the Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Subcommittee.