As the son of a decorated WWII Navy aviator, Sen. Thune knows firsthand the sacrifices made by those who have selflessly served their country and their families. In addition to its debt of gratitude, a thankful nation has a responsibility to care for its veterans.
Highlights of Sen. Thune’s Commitment to South Dakota Veterans:
- Fighting for an Automatic Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) for Veterans:
- Per law, Congress must annually approve the COLA for disabled veterans, even though it is already anticipated in each year’s budget.
- In 2008, Sen. Thune first introduced legislation to make the annual COLA automatic, which would help give America’s disabled veterans the peace of mind they deserve and has reintroduced it as recently as 2016.
- Advance Funding for Veterans Health Care:
- In 2009, Sen. Thune helped champion advance funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical programs with the Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act, insulating critical medical funding from uncertainty and instability.
- Prior to this legislation, Congress failed to authorize VA funding before the start of the next fiscal year 19 of the previous 22 years.
- Sen. Thune remains focused on ensuring veterans get adequate funding for their needs.
- Holding VA Leadership Accountable:
- After the VA scandals of 2014 broke, Sen. Thune introduced one of the first bills to address the epidemic of mismanagement by seeking a national audit of wait times for veterans seeking VA appointments and treatment.
- Sen. Thune supports VA accountability provisions to expedite the removal of senior VA employees found guilty of misconduct and rescinding bonuses paid to VA employees found guilty of wait list manipulation.