As a U.S. Army combat veteran, and as a member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Max is focused on ensuring the United States government keeps its sacred commitment to our veterans. This oath is vital not just for the nearly 22,000 veterans in New York’s 11th Congressional District, but for our men and women who served across the country.
Passing Bills for Better Healthcare and Benefits for Veterans
Max is a proud cosponsor of multiple pieces of legislation, including the Burn Pits Accountability Act and the Veteran Treatment Court Coordination Act, that seek to protect veterans who have been exposed to toxic chemicals in the line of duty, and to make sure veterans receive the benefits that they deserve. As a member of the Health Subcommittee, he cosponsored the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act, and successfully worked to see the bill signed into law by President Trump, guaranteeing benefits for our heroes that were long overdue.
After hearing that a retired Staten Island veteran incurred an $18,000 debt because of a bureaucratic mix-up at the VA involving snail mail, Max grilled the VA at a committee hearing, and got the veteran’s debt successfully liquidated, with all payments refunded. To prevent any veteran from going through the same debt collection problems at VA, Max introduced the Stopping Harm and Implementing Enhanced Lead-time for Debts for Veterans (SHIELD) Act to hold the VA accountable for their payment practices.
To provide better care and further combat the opioid epidemic, Max introduced and passed an amendment to the Veterans’ Access to Childcare Act to ensure that parents with appointments at VA for substance or drug abuse counseling can access VA child care. And as a member of the Women Veterans Task Force, Max introduced the bipartisan Breaking Barriers for Women Veterans Act, which passed through committee and then passed on the House floor as part of the Deborah Sampson Act. This bill will help to ensure that providers in the community network are equipped with training nodules specific to women veterans, and mandates that the VA ensures staffing levels specific to women veterans are appropriate.
Keeping in mind that thousands of veterans pursue secondary education after their service, Max is making sure that the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) for veterans attending college on Staten Island is equitable; if our vets want to attend college in their own community, they should receive benefits fairly. That’s why Max successfully passed a provision in the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act to equalize BAH for Staten Island, bringing the thousands of service members and student veterans on the island closer to justice than any other Member of Congress has gotten before.
Preventing Veteran Suicide
One veteran dying by suicide is too many--but we’ve seen that the staggering 20 veteran-per-day statistic persist for far too long. Max set out to change that, and as Vice Chair of the Military Mental health Task Force, he won’t stop fighting until we end veteran suicides once and for all.
Max led an amendment to the Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations bill which passed to increase funding by $5 million for the Veterans Health Administration to hire more mental health professionals, the most-needed occupation according to the VA's Inspector General. And in his first year in office, Max introduced and passed the bipartisan FIGHT Veteran Suicides Act in response to recent tragedies of veterans dying by suicide on VA campuses, requiring VA to report to Congress key data points to better understand the scope of the epidemic. To that end, Max introduced and passed the VA Reporting Transparency Act, to ensure that VA reports of all kinds can be accessed easily by the medical community, and by the public.
Max cosponsored the VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act, to make sure we can get a better understanding around the safety and effectiveness of cannabis to treat the signature injuries of war, including suicidal ideation. And he supported the Suicide Prevention Coordinators Act that would require an assessment of the workload, training, and vacancy rates of VA Suicide Prevention Coordinators, which passed in the House of Representatives and was signed into law.
Those that put their life on the line for our nation and its people deserve a fierce advocate; Max has gone to bat for them back at home, and in the halls of Congress.