Veterans & Military Affairs
I will work to ensure our national security remains strong. When our service members are called to serve, it is imperative that we provide our troops with the equipment and weapons they need to be successful. I will continue to support policies that protect our troops, their families, and our nation.
And we must make good on our promise to help our fighting men and women when they return home; we owe them much more than a “thank you for your service,” we owe them real actions to provide meaningful support. The federal government must live up to its responsibilities to properly support those who served in our armed forces and their families. I firmly believe that this is one of our nation’s chief responsibilities.
What I am Doing for You
Veteran’s Claims Backlog
It is unacceptable that our veterans wait so long for their benefits. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has made significant progress on its huge backlog of veterans’ benefits cases, in which delays at the Oakland Regional VA Office were among the worst in the nation. I’ve co-sponsored bills intended to speed up the VA claims processing and increase its efficiency. I will continue to work to ensure that those who proudly serve our country receive the benefits and care they have earned.
VA Medical Care
Long wait times and scheduling problems at VA Medical Centers are deeply concerning, and I am working to ensure veterans are receiving timely access to quality care. After learning of long wait times at VA Medical Centers, I wrote a letter to the VA Secretary requesting a system-wide audit of scheduling practices and wait times. I’ve also visited the VA facility in Livermore and have been assured by the director and her staff that while long wait times and access issues are occurring at VA centers across the country, this is not the case in the Bay Area. I will diligently work to ensure this remains true and to improve care for all veterans around the country.
I, along with and Rep. Ruben Gallego (AZ-7) and Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH), led a bipartisan, bicameral letter to Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough in June 2021 asking the VA to consider additional flexibilities for the VA Home Loan Guaranty program.
I'm an original cosponsor of H.R. 1282, the Major Richard Star Act, a bipartisan bill to provide combat-injured veterans with less than 20 years of military service their full benefits.
I'm an original cosponsor of H.R. 1585, the Mark Takai Atomic Veterans Healthcare Parity Act, a bipartisan bill to include veterans who participated in the cleanup of Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands between January 1, 1977, and December 31, 1980, as radiation-exposed veterans for purposes of the Department of Veterans Affairs presumption of service-connection for specified cancers.
I'm an original cosponsor of H.R. 1948, the VA Employee Fairness Act of 2021, which would ensure that VA’s Title 38 healthcare professionals — including nurses, physicians, dentists, and physician assistants who serve our veterans — have the same workplace rights currently granted to other VA clinicians and federal employees. By providing full collective bargaining rights to these healthcare professionals, VA will be better equipped to retain and recruit top tier staff to care for our nation’s veterans and empower VA staff to speak up about patient safety concerns.
I'm an original cosponsor of H.R. 2709, the Access to Contraception for Servicemembers and Dependents Act, to ensure military families receive the quality reproductive health care they deserve. The bill would bring health care provided by the military in line with current law for civilian populations by ensuring that those who receive health care through the military have access to all forms of Food and Drug Administration-approved contraception with no health insurance co-pay. The legislation would also guarantee access to emergency contraception for survivors of sexual assault upon their request and require the Defense Department to develop a comprehensive family planning education program. (I previously cosponsored this as H.R. 2091 in the 116th Congress.)
I'm an original cosponsor of H.R. 3224, the I am Vanessa Guillén Act, to revolutionize the military’s response to reports of sexual harassment and sexual assault by making sexual harassment a standalone offense within the Uniform Code of Military Justice and moving prosecution decisions of sexual assault and sexual harassment cases out of the chain of command, as well as establishing a process for compensating servicemembers who survive sexual violence when the military has been negligent. It also reforms the Army’s Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) program.
I'm an original cosponsor of and voted for, and the House passed, H.R. 1448, the Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (PAWS) for Veterans Therapy Act. This bipartisan bill would authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to create a pilot program on dog training therapy and provide service dogs to veterans with mental illnesses regardless of whether or not they have mobility issues.
I cosponsored H.R. 239, the Equal Access to Contraception for Veterans Act, to provide women veterans access to the same no-cost contraceptive care as their non-veteran counterparts.
I cosponsored H.R. 2734, the Veterans Health Family Services Act, to ensure that servicemembers’ and veterans’ fertility treatments (such as IVF and counseling) are included as part of their health benefits.
I cosponsored H.R. 2974, the Military Spouse Hiring Act, a bipartisan bill that incentivizes employers to hire spouses of members of the U.S. Armed Forces. Research from the Department of Defense and the Hiring Our Heroes Foundation has found that unemployment rates for military spouses far exceed that of the national average; this bill would help close the gap by expanding the Work Opportunity Tax Credit to include the hiring of qualified military spouses, allowing employers to claim a tax credit equal to a portion of the wages paid to those spouses.
I'm an original cosponsor of, voted for, and the House passed H.R. 707, the Ghost Army Congressional Gold Medal Act, a bipartisan bill to honor a top-secret World War II unit with Congress’s highest expression of national appreciation.
I'm an original cosponsor of H.Res. 50, expressing the support of the House of Representatives for the naming of new or undedicated facilities of the Department of Veterans Affairs after women veterans and minority veterans in order to reflect the diversity of all who have served in the Armed Forces of the United States.
In the 116th Congress:
I cosponsored H.R. 3400, the Encourage New Legalized Immigrants to Start Training (ENLIST) Act, to provide the opportunity to pursue citizenship to legal immigrants through military service. The ENLIST Act would apply to DREAMers in the U.S. under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy.
I cosponsored H.R. 553, the Military Surviving Spouses Equity Act, a bipartisan bill to help protect military families from financial hardship by repealing provisions that require the offset of plan annuities from amounts paid in dependency and indemnity compensation to surviving military spouses.
I cosponsored H.R. 2617, the OATH Act, a bipartisan bill to require the Department of Defense to input any Occupational Environmental Hazard exposure into a service member's records, which follow the servicemember throughout their career and into veteran status. This bill would also mandate that the DoD and VA retroactively update service records based on information contained in the Burn Pit Registry. This bill's provisons were incorporated into the Fiscal Year 2020 and Fiscal Year 2021 versions of the National Defense Authorization Act.
I cosponsored H.R. 3166, a bill that would require DoD to update any administrative forms containing racially insensitive terms.
I cosponsored H.R. 1652, the Veteran Education Empowerment Act, a bipartisan bill to ensure that servicemembers have adequate access to higher education by directing the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out a grant program to provide Veteran Student Centers at colleges and universities to assist veterans in the pursuit of higher education.
In earlier Congresses:
Recognizing the unique needs and contributions of all servicemembers, I cosponsored the Voices for Veterans Act, which would extend and expand the membership of the Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans to include veterans who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.
I cosponsored the Give Veterans Home Loan Choices Act of 2017, which would ensure that veterans are provided all home loan options available to them, so that they can make a well informed decision when selecting a home loan for their families.
I cosponsored H.R. 3137, the Wounded Warrior Service Dog Act of 2019. This bipartisan bill would direct the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments to jointly establish the "K-9 Service Corps Program", which would award grants to nonprofit organizations to plan or operate programs to provide service dogs to certain military members and veterans.
To address the grave lack of mental health care available to our servicemembers, I co-sponsored the Veteran Urgent Access to Mental Healthcare Act. This bipartisan bill would require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to provide initial mental health assessments and mental healthcare to veterans with ‘an other than honorable’ discharge’ who have deployed and served in combat zones. Generally, individuals who have such discharges are not eligible for any veteran benefits.
I cosponsored the Veteran Suicide Prevention Act, a bipartisan bill which would direct the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to complete a publicly available review of the deaths of all covered veterans who died by suicide during the preceding five-year period.
Recognizing the need for a proactive policy to protect servicemembers from chemical and environmental threats I co-sponsored the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2017, a bipartisan bill which grants presumptive Agent Orange exposure status to U.S. military personnel who served in the territorial seas of Vietnam during the Vietnam War, so that they can receive expedited consideration for benefits if they suffer from any of the diseases the U.S. Government has linked to Agent Orange. The bill became law in 2018.
In a previous Congress, I sent a letter to the Appropriations Committee supporting funding for Veterans Treatment Courts. Veterans Treatment Courts provide veterans with substance abuse issues an alternative to incarceration by allowing them to seek mental health services and rehabilitative care instead of being jailed for non-violent, minor drug-related crimes.
I also sent a letter to the Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies in support of $164 million for veteran suicide prevention and outreach programs in FY 2017.
Rep. Swalwell and local students deliver Valentines for Vets at the Livermore VA Community Living Center, February 2016.
In my first term in Congress I co-sponsored a bill which would allow for veterans who have a service-connected, permanent disability rated as “total” to utilize no-cost, space-available travel on Department of Defense aircraft via the Space-A travel program.
I co-sponsored the Helping Heroes Fly Act, to add protections to improve the experience for severely wounded veterans when they go through airport screening. This bipartisan bill became law.
I co-sponsored the Homeless Veterans' Reintegration Programs Reauthorization Act of 2013, a bipartisan bill to extend the VA’s Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program through FY 2018.
I co-sponsored the Pay as You Rate Act, a bipartisan bill to require the VA to pay a veteran his or her disability compensation benefits as each element of a claim is reviewed rather than making them wait until the entire claim has been processed.
I voted for the Veteran Emergency Medical Technician Support Act. This bipartisan bill would provide states with funds to streamline the process by which veterans that were trained and worked as EMTs in the military could receive certification and licenses to serve as EMTs once they return to their home states.
I voted for the Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act. This bipartisan bill, which was signed into law, increases transparency regarding the VA’s medical care system and allows veterans to seek private health care under certain circumstances such as long wait times or distance from a VA Medical Center.
Rep. Swalwell speaks at Castro Valley's Veterans Day ceremony, November 2015.
More on Veterans & Military Affairs
WASHINGTON, DC — Representatives Eric Swalwell (CA-15) and Ruben Gallego (AZ-7), along with Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH), today led a bipartisan, bicameral letter to Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough asking the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to consider additional flexibilities for the VA Home Loan Guaranty program.
CASTRO VALLEY, CA – Rep. Eric Swalwell (CA-15) yesterday hosted a reception in Dublin for 10 students from the 15th Congressional District whom his office nominated to America’s military service academies.
Swalwell joined the students and their families at Dublin City Hall to acknowledge their achievements and thank them for their choices to serve our nation.
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Rep. Eric Swalwell (CA-15) announced he will hold a Facebook Live Q&A on Thursday, May 28 with special guest Thomas J. Fitzgerald III, CHESP, Director at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System.
“I am glad to resume our Facebook Live Q&A series with Director Fitzgerald of the Palo Alto VA,” said Swalwell. “This specialized conversation will focus on what resources are available for veterans in the Bay Area, and what testing and treatment options the VA currently offers.”