Veterans Oppose VA Bill, Which Fails in House

Jul 25, 2017

Evan Knappenberger, shown here with his service dog, served in the Army from 2003 until 2007 and spoke yesterday at the James Madison University Veterans Memorial wall.
Credit Christopher Clymer Kurtz

On Monday, July 24 the U.S. House of Representatives voted down S. 114, a bill that many veterans opposed. One veteran from Harrisonburg spoke to reporters Monday against the House bill, as WMRA’s Christopher Clymer Kurtz reports.

The Senate version of S. 114 amends veterans’ benefits law in order to require Veterans Affairs, or the VA, to report certain bonuses and performance awards. Yesterday’s House version would have added the appropriation of $2 billion to the Veterans Choice Program, which pays for some veterans to see community health providers. But some say that allocations like that come at the expense of VA funding.

EVAN KNAPPENBERGER: I have been in the VA since 2007. I found it to be very excellent care. It’s not perfect — I don’t think anything is perfect — but I don’t think that cutting funding is the approach to make it better.

Evan Knappenberger is a member of Disabled American Veterans, which was one of a number of organizations including Veterans of Foreign Wars and Wounded Warrior Project to protest the bill. In a statement, they said that allocating money only or primarily to the Choice program — without addressing “urgent VA infrastructure and resource needs” — endangers the viability of the VA.

KNAPPENBERGER: Free market competition is not going to help the VA. It’s actually been shown to be less effective than just the straight VA as we know it.

Knappenberger said he served in the Army from 2003 until 2007, and enlisted with the understanding that he would be cared for afterward.

KNAPPENBERGER: This is part of the cost of going to war. If we’re not willing to do that, then we shouldn’t have a military, and we shouldn’t go to war.