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Veterans & Military Retirees

Our veterans, who have served during war and peace, have made tremendous sacrifices to protect our freedoms. They are defenders of democracy and have ensured all Americans can continue to enjoy freedom and peace.

I remain committed to holding the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) accountable and ensuring promises made to our veterans are kept. Our service members must have access to safe housing, good jobs and the healthcare they need when they come home.

There are still too many instances of our veterans not receiving the care and service they have earned and the VA system not meeting their needs. Veterans deserve to receive their benefits in a timely and consistent manner; clearing the current backlog will help us reach this goal.

I remain concerned as to how the VA healthcare system will reform the delivery of healthcare and do so with the deep fiscal obligations associated with the new healthcare reform. For this reason, I have supported reforms through Congress that will modernize the appeals process, bring accountability to the Department of Veterans Affairs and give student veterans the largest expansion of GI Bill benefits since the GI Bill was created.

Ongoing proposals to raise TRICARE deductibles, premiums and co-pays for beneficiaries remain a principle concern for military service members, retirees and their families. I fully understand that TRICARE is an earned benefit, and I am opposed to a “tiered” enrollment fee structure or “means-testing” for service members, retirees and their families. I understand that the unique military retirement and healthcare package is the primary incentive for top-quality people to endure the extraordinary demands and sacrifices inherent in a military career spanning 20 or 30 years.

As a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, I will continue to work with my colleagues to preserve pay, benefits and incentives for the military, retirees and veterans and at the same time address unsustainable government spending.

More on Veterans & Military Retirees

December 5, 2014 News Stories

The Oklahoman - Chris Casteel

The U.S. House easily passed a $585 billion defense bill on Thursday that protects Tinker Air Force Base from some of the Pentagon’s proposed cuts and promises more money for the huge maintenance depot there.

The bill passed 300-119, with all five of Oklahoma’s U.S. House members in favor. It now heads to the U.S. Senate.

Sen. Jim Inhofe, of Tulsa, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, negotiated the final version of the bill and strongly supports it.

November 10, 2014 Weekly Columns

Throughout the history of the American military, hundreds of thousands of men and women have volunteered to serve a cause greater than themselves. By taking an oath to defend our borders, preserve our values and ensure our freedom, these brave individuals understand the true price of freedom. Without question, they deserve our utmost appreciation both during and after their selfless service to our nation. 

September 30, 2014 Press Release
Washington, DC – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after Boeing announced the planned transfer of approximately 900 engineering and defense-related jobs to its Oklahoma City facility near Tinker Air Force Base. These jobs are related to the company’s restructuring of its Boeing Defense, Space & Security Unit and will include work on the KC-46A Tanker.
August 4, 2014 Weekly Columns

There is no obligation more sacred than to provide for our service members and their families, both during and after service to their country. Many return from war forever changed, sometimes with both physical and psychological challenges. Especially when these veteran heroes require special care, they should never receive less than the best treatment. As a grateful nation, we owe them that debt for their selfless sacrifice and service.

July 30, 2014 Press Release
Washington, DC – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after the House passed the Conference Report to Accompany H.R. 3230, the Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014. This legislation includes $10 billion for the Veterans Choice Fund, $5 billion for improving the internal medical force at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and $1.5 billion to start up new VA clinics, including one in Tulsa.
June 16, 2014 Weekly Columns

True patriotism is embodied in the lives of those who volunteered to defend and protect our nation, and their remarkable, selfless acts of service must never be taken for granted. We are forever indebted to them for their service, and they deserve the utmost support and appreciation every day of the year. Not only should they receive our continuous gratitude, but just as they answered the dangerous call of duty, we have the duty to take care of them when they return home from the battlefield.

June 11, 2014 Press Release
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after the House unanimously passed H.R. 4810, the Veteran Access to Care Act of 2014. This legislation allows veterans to seek medical care through a non-Department facility if they are unable to get an appointment secured within 14 days or if they live more than 40 miles from a VA medical facility.
June 5, 2014 Press Release
Washington, DC – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after it was discovered that Fort Sill Military Base in Lawton is expected to begin housing at least 600 unaccompanied minors who illegally immigrated to the United States. Since fiscal year 2011, the number of these individuals, usually from Central America, has grown from 6,000 to 66,000 last year. By next year, this number is expected to climb even higher to 127,000.
May 27, 2014 News Stories

NewsOK - Chris Casteel

President Barack Obama announced Tuesday that the United States would keep nearly 10,000 troops in Afghanistan through 2016.