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Friday, November 8, 2019

New Video Highlights Isakson’s Efforts for Veterans

Colleagues commend Isakson for lifelong service, commitment to improving lives of veterans

ATLANTA – In a video released today, colleagues of U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, discuss Isakson’s efforts to improve the lives of veterans across the country through his tireless efforts to reform the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). From VA Secretary Robert Wilkie to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and more than a dozen of Isakson’s colleagues in the Senate, Isakson’s leadership and commitment to veterans is widely praised by Republicans and Democrats alike.

“I think that when we look at Johnny’s tenure at the veterans’ committee and for veterans, it’s that he brought real solutions to problems that affected veterans, day in and day out, and his legacy will be that he leaves this institution having made a contribution to people he’ll never have the opportunity to meet that were benefited by something that Johnny Isakson did,” U.S. Senator Richard Burr, R-N.C., said in the video.

Isakson became chairman of the Senate VA Committee in January 2015. From 2015 to 2019, under Isakson’s leadership, the Senate VA committee passed 57 pieces of legislation that were signed into law. These include significant reforms to improve accountability at the VA, expand VA education benefits, modernize the process for veterans’ appeals of benefit determinations, and overhaul the VA’s community care programs.

“There is no question that without him, there is no fundamental reform of VA,” VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said in the video. “He saw what was happening in 2014, 2015 and 2016. He knew that there had to be change from the bottom up, and he shepherded legislation that, I’ve said, is the most far-reaching legislation to hit this department since the G.I. Bill was signed by Franklin Roosevelt in 1944. His business acumen combined with his knowledge of how to get things done in this environment has been absolutely vital.”

Leading to the success of the veterans’ committee under Isakson’ leadership has been his ability to appeal to both sides of the aisle to find common ground on legislative solutions. Isakson is called a “bridge builder” by his colleagues and commended for his willingness to listen to differing opinions when seeking results for veterans.

“When you talk about a chairman, Johnny was the ultimate one when it came to being a bipartisan chairman,” said U.S. Senator Mike Rounds, R-S.D., a member of the Senate VA committee. “He worked with people on both sides of the aisle. He wanted to hear the entire story. He was always fair to every single witness.”

“It’s not about him, it’s about a result. A result that is good for veterans,” said U.S. Senator John Boozman, R-Ark., also a member of the VA committee.

In 2017-2018 alone, Isakson and the Senate VA committee shepherded through 25 pieces of veterans legislation that were all signed into law, including the landmark VA MISSION Act, which transformed the VA’s health care delivery system and gave veterans a choice in where they receive care.

“We had an incredible year last year passing bills that everybody said, ‘when you take them up, you can’t do that. It’s too controversial,’” said U.S. Senator Jon Tester, D-Mont., the top Democrat on the Senate VA committee. “Those were not easy bills, and we could have given up at any moment in time on it. If I had given up on it, or he had given up on it, it would have reduced the chance of getting those bills passed, but Johnny kept pushing forward, and Johnny kept letting me know that we were not going to stop until we got this done.”

“A lot of times, you know, you know you’ve got a problem, and you talk about the problem all day long, but that’s all you do,” said Isakson. “You never do anything. So we decided we’d set out at the outset to really try and perfect the VA legislation that had passed over the years to get rid of some of the problems we have had, and we did it and we made the whole committee a committee of the whole in doing it.”

To view the video, produced by the Senate Republican Conference, click here. For a full list of Isakson’s accomplishments for veterans, click here.

Background:

Isakson, a veteran himself, served in the Georgia Air National Guard from 1966-1972. Isakson has been a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs since he joined the Senate in 2005. Since becoming chairman of the committee in 2015, Isakson has played a key role in reforming veterans’ health care and benefits and making the VA more responsive to the veterans it serves through oversight and accountability.

Isakson’s home state of Georgia is home to more than 700,000 veterans as well as more than a dozen military bases. During his time in the Senate, Isakson has made it a priority to hire veterans on his personal office and Senate VA committee staff. Since 2005, he’s employed 17 veterans and service members to serve in various capacities on his team. In addition to aiding veterans, Isakson also has worked to strengthen our armed forces and has shown unwavering commitment to the men and women serving our country today.

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The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is chaired by U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., in the 116th Congress. Isakson is a veteran himself – having served in the Georgia Air National Guard from 1966-1972 – and has been a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs since he joined the Senate in 2005. Isakson’s home state of Georgia is home to more than a dozen military installations representing each branch of the armed services as well as nearly 700,000 veterans.