Congress Members From Pacific Territories Call For Hearings On Veteran Affairs

Office of American Samoa Congresswoman Aumua Amata
Washington, DC

October 13, 2017

Congresswoman Aumua Amata (R-AS) along with her colleagues Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (D- CNMI) and Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo (D-GU) wrote to Chairman Phil Roe and Ranking Member Tim Walz of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs requesting an oversight hearing to examine the challenges facing veterans residing in American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Independent Samoa, and the Freely Associated States.

The Representatives noted that these areas suffer from minimal involvement by the national Department of Veterans’ Affairs. 

“American Samoans enlist in the United States Army at a rate higher than any other place in the United States. American Samoa has also one of the highest percentages of veteran population of any area of the United States. Yet veterans in American Samoa must travel over 2,500 miles to receive care in Hawai’i, and that’s not to mention the lack of any benefits counselors in American Samoa. American Samoans have served with distinction in the US Armed Forces for over a hundred years. It’s time they received the care that they are owed,” said Aumua Amata.

“The Northern Marianas is the only U.S. jurisdiction without a VA clinic, dedicated VA medical or mental health professionals, or a Vet Center,” said Congressman Sablan. “Our veterans have to travel to Guam or Hawai’i to receive basic medical care. The VA must do more for the veterans in the Northern Marianas who served our country with honor and distinction. Veterans in the Pacific territories are entitled to the benefits they earned and should be able to access those benefits where they live.” 

Said Congresswoman Bordallo, “Veterans in Guam and the Pacific territories should be treated equitably with their counterparts in the mainland, and receive the level of benefits they have earned from their service to our nation.

“Unfortunately our veterans continue to experience significant challenges, especially in receiving timely and accessible health care. While I was successful in obtaining funding to remodel and expand Guam’s CBOC and in requiring the GAO to review the level of care provided to veterans in the Pacific, both of which are ongoing, I have been frustrated by continued short staffing levels on Guam and lack of resources dedicated to the needs of our veterans.

Amata and Sablan are members of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and sit on the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs. Additionally, Amata sits on the Subcommittee on Health and Sablan serves on the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

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