e-News 8/17/2018

The Week Just Past: The Recovery Begins
Our Work to Improve Services and Benefits for our Veterans
The Fight to End Modern Day Slavery
Salute: BG Sean Mulholland

Salute: a fond farewell to Rockaway Township Mayor Michael Dachisen

The Week Just Past: The Recovery Begins

Last Saturday, residents of Little Falls and Woodland Park faced catastrophe when torrential downpours led to major flooding in the Peckman River in a matter of minutes.  The flood waters have left behind incredible destruction and terrible heartache for families and small businessmen and women.

I would like to thank all the first responders, emergency managers, public works departments and local, county and state officials who responded to help those threatened by the devastating waters. Without their quick and professional actions the damage could have been much worse.

Clearly, a solution is desperately needed to reduce the impact of this flooding on the individuals who are forced to live with its dire consequences. On Tuesday, I wrote the Army Corps of Engineers, again, urging for an expedited solution that will address the flooding in the Peckman. 

Of course, I will continue to work with local, state and federal partners to assist residents with resources, information and support. Please do not hesitate to call my Morristown office (973-984-0711) for assistance.

Our Work to Improve Services and Benefits for our Veterans

As a Vietnam Veteran, one of my top priorities is ensuring the men and women who served our nation, on and off the battlefield, receive world class healthcare and benefits they have earned. The 115th Congress has worked to pass numerous bills that reform the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), ensuring they are delivering benefits and care to those who served.  

Prior to the start of the August District Work period, the House of Representatives continued its important work to increase benefits and support to our nation’s heroes by approving another nine bipartisan veterans bills. These measures would improve servicemembers’ transition into civilian life, provide financial assistance for veterans who choose to live in medical foster homes, increase educational and economic opportunities for veterans and more.

To date, the House has sent more than 70 bills to the Senate for their consideration, and we have had over two dozen bipartisan, bicameral bills signed into law.

In addition, the House Committee on Appropriations has ensured the VA has the necessary resources to fulfill our commitment to our veterans. The Fiscal Year 2019 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill, which was approved by the Committee and passed the House of Representatives in June, provides an almost  5% increase in funding from FY 2018 levels-- the largest dollar amount in history to the VA.

During the week of July 23rd, with my support, the House gave bipartisan approval to the following bills:

H.R. 2409, to allow certain servicemembers to terminate their cable, satellite television and internet access service contracts while deployed, would extend existing federal protections to cable and satellite television services under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. Under this legislation, servicemembers would only need to provide notice and a copy of their active duty orders to cable and satellite providers to terminate their contracts without penalty.

H.R. 2787, the VET MD Act, would direct the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to carry out a three year pilot program beginning no later than August 15, 2020, in at least five regionally diverse VA medical centers to provide undergraduate students a clinical observation experience within VA.

H.R. 5538, The Reserve Component Vocational Rehabilitation Parity Act, would add eligibility for Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) for active service under certain reserve orders.

H.R. 5649, the Navy SEAL Chief Petty Officer William “Bill” Mulder (Ret.) Transition Improvements Act of 2018, would make improvements to the Transition Assistance Program and the overall transition process for servicemembers to include more of a focus on career opportunities and entrepreneurship.

H.R. 5864, The VA HELP Act, requires VA to establish qualification standards and performance metrics for VHA HR positions and provide a report to Congress containing such standards and metrics.

H.R. 5882, The Gold Star Spouses Leasing Relief Act, would allow surviving spouses to terminate residential leases at the time of a servicemember's death without penalty.

H.R. 5938, the Veterans Serving Veterans Act, would require VA to identify specialties that correlate with open positions within VA, to coordinate with DoD to identify soon-to-be-separated servicemembers and to add those servicemembers’ specialties and contact information to VA’s recruiting.

H.R. 5974, the VA COST SAVINGS Act, would require VA to identify facilities that would benefit from cost savings associated with the use of an on-site regulated medical waste treatment system over a five year period.

H.R. 5693, Long-Term Care Veterans Choice Act would authorize VA, during a three-year period beginning on October 1, 2019, to transfer upon request up to 900 veterans for whom the VA is required to provide nursing home care to a medical foster home that meets VA standards.

The Fight to End Modern Day Slavery

Congress has taken a number of critical steps to fight the scourge of human trafficking. Unfortunately, human trafficking is a growing enterprise that affects individuals across the world, including here in the United States and New Jersey, and is regarded as one of the most pressing human rights issues of our time.

During this Congress, the House has led the fight to end human trafficking by passing dozens of bills designed to protect children and combat this growing problem – providing support and services to the victims of this crime and boosting resources for law enforcement. 

I was pleased to support the following bills as they passed Congress and were signed into law by the President:

  • Department of Homeland Security Blue Campaign Authorization Act, which helps protect victims of human trafficking by providing the right tools to federal, state, and local law enforcement, as well as private sector organizations to increase awareness and better defend against this heinous threat.
  • No Human Trafficking on Our Roads Actwhich prohibits individuals from operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) for their lifetime if they used a CMV to commit a felony involving human trafficking.
  • Combating Human Trafficking in Commercial Vehicles Act, which seeks to promote outreach and education to prevent human trafficking on our highways.
  • Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Actwhich combats online sex trafficking by providing new tools to law enforcement through a new federal criminal statute and by making it easier for states to prosecute criminal actor websites.

As a result of this legislation, online advertising for commercial sex trafficking has gone down by 60-80%.

Even with this progress, our work is not done. At its root, combating this scourge takes the increased awareness of every citizen. Speaking up is the most effective way to protect and support the victims and their families.

If someone you know is being trafficked or human trafficking is happening in your community please contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline here or you can call 24/7 at 1-888-373-7888 or text 233733.

To learn more about the signs and red flags of human trafficking please visit here.

Salute: BG Sean Mulholland 

It is with a heavy heart I learned of the passing of Army Special Forces Brigadier General Sean Mulholland.  Raised in Montville and a graduate of Morris Catholic High School in Denville, General Mulholland was a dedicated warrior and devoted family man, who served our nation with distinction for over 30 years. I was honored to know Sean and call him a friend-- he was truly a “Fighting Mulholland”!  Sean will certainly be missed, but his impact on and off the battlefield and his service to defend our nation will be long-remembered.

You can read more about Sean’s career in the Army and his numerous tours and assignments with the Special Forces here.

Salute: a fond farewell to Rockaway Township Mayor Michael Dachisen, a lifetime resident of the Township who passed away suddenly this week.  Throughout his life Mike always put others before himself, especially during his tenure on the Township Council for 15 years and as mayor for the last 6 years.

Mayor Dachisen was a strong supporter of Picatinny Arsenal and the work of thousands of men and women who support our war fighters every day.  Mike hosted our Picatinny Working Group in his municipal building for our regular meetings and was a gracious and well informed member!

It was clear his love for Rockaway was only outmatched by his love for his family.  He will be missed.  You can read more about Mayor Dachisen here