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Florida and New York representatives on support for Veterans and families

WASHINGTON (CBS, KYMA/KECY) - Representatives Mike Waltz (R-FL) and Pat Ryan (D-NY) sat down with Margaret Brennan on Face the Nation Sunday.

The representatives discussed being members of the For Country Caucus and talked about the now annual tradition of cleaning up the Vietnam Veterans Memorial during the Memorial Day weekend.

"Once I got elected...and I saw the acrimony and the end fighting and I said, 'You know, let's get a group of Veterans together. People who really have skin in the game.' I think that's important for the American people to see. To see us honoring our forefathers, to see us where Democrat, Republican, black, white, brown, none of that matters. It just matters that we're all Americans. We're all Veterans, and we're honoring those that came before us."

Rep. Mike Waltz (R-FL)

"This is the most powerful thing I've done in Congress, truly...It's very emotional and it's positive. I mean, there's so many divisive forces, and so to get together with fellow Veterans, all services, all generations, and just actually do something with your hands that improves the world, that honors our Veterans, that prepares this memorial for hundreds of thousands of Americans that are gonna come here this weekend. It's honor."

Rep. Pat Ryan (D-NY)

Providing mental health resources for Veterans

The representatives also talked about the importance of the government providing mental health resources for Veterans.

"I actually think that's a big part of the reason why we see people coming home from service and feeling alone, even surrounded in their hometowns, feeling alone because they can't relate. And so there's so many aspects to solving it, but it can't. The government has to do a whole lot more. We, in Congress, have to do a whole lot more, but the whole country has to do more. The whole country has to come into Memorial Day weekend, and yes, you can celebrate, but please take a moment and think about the names on this wall. The names on your local hometown memorial, [and] the names on the memorial bracelets of the Veterans that you see, ask them about it. Ask them to tell you those stories, and we should be sharing those stories.

Rep. Pat Ryan (D-NY)

"You know, I would just say from the government perspective, you know, the VA's budget has gone from about $90 billion in 2000 to almost triple that with the same results. And that's not necessarily a knock on the VA, but I think we have to start talking about this problem and thinking about it differently. I want the providers to have the full menu, not just drugs or another appointment, but a full menu of service dogs, of therapeutics, of hyperbaric chambers, even hallucinogenics and other kind of non-traditional therapies. They should have everything at their disposal, number one. And number two, I don't think government can solve this. This is a societal problem. This is going to be solved in churches and communities and neighbors and families that I think need to be more deliberate in reaching out to veterans. They know that they're struggling."

Rep. Mike Waltz (R-FL)

Talks then came to Ryan's legislative bill that would try to expand healthcare coverage for the children of Veterans until the age of 26.

Brennan asked if there's "any pledge from leadership to actually move this anytime soon," to which Ryan said, "We've been working together with this Caucus of bipartisan military veterans to apply pressure. Because if we don't apply that pressure, if we don't shine the spotlight on this problem, it will get sort of stuck in the dysfunction of the Congress right now."

Waltz added, "The issue is getting it paid for underneath the caps that were agreed to last year. But, I do think eventually we will get this through."

Supporting Veterans and their families

During the interview, Brennan, Ryan and Waltz talked about the importance of the government providing more resources to veterans and their families.

"When you lose touch between those that are fighting our wars and their families and everyone else, that's something so essential that we have to figure out how to bring folks together, and get more folks serving," Ryan expressed.

Waltz shared similar remarks while adding, "And service doesn't just have to be in the military. And one of the things that we're both adamant and advocates of is getting us back to national service as a country. That's not a draft. That doesn't necessarily have to be in uniform, but it could be with the national park, inner-city tutoring, elderly care. But, how do we get young people out in an environment where they're learning leadership, discipline, followership, serving a cause bigger than themselves and with fellow Americans who may not look or come from the same backgrounds as them. I think there's ways to incentivize that."

To watch more of Brennan's full interview with Ryan and Waltz, click here.

Article Topic Follows: National Politics

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