Commonsense Conservative For Ohio

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ICYMI: Portman Joins Team River Runner at Kayak Event With Wounded Veterans

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Yesterday, Rob participated in Team River Runner’s (TRR’s) fundraising event, Paddling for Patriots, which featured live demonstrations of their adaptive paddling programs for wounded and disabled service members and veterans. The event, sponsored by Marathon Petroleum Corporation (MPC), also featured a friendly kayak race between veterans using Team River Runner’s adaptive technology and Rob, who is an avid kayaker in his personal time. Here's a quick recap video from yesterday's event that we think you will enjoy:

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And here are some pictures:

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And here is what they had to say:

Cincinnati Enquirer: Rob "strained his red, white and blue kayak paddles into the Cuyahoga River in a race against retired Staff Sgt. Major Ryan Major, a veteran who uses a wheelchair after being hit by improvised explosive device in 2006. Portman was no match for Major's strong, defined arms. The senator lost by more than a boat's length during a sunny Tuesday afternoon fundraiser for Team River Runners, a charity for wounded veterans that Portman volunteers with in Washington D.C."

Washington Free Beacon: Rob "participated in a kayaking race with wounded veterans on Tuesday, raising awareness and funds for an organization that helps disabled service members rehabilitate after returning from the battlefield. Portman has been volunteering with Team River Runner since his years serving as a U.S. trade representative in the George W. Bush administration. Team River Runner is a non-profit organization with chapters throughout the country that teaches thousands of active-duty military members and veterans how to kayak as a means to healing mentally and physically."

Boston Globe: Senator Rob Portman is among a handful of Republicans holding events in Ohio this week separate from the GOP convention. As convention entered its second day, Portman led a kayak trip on the Cuyahoga Rover in support of an organization that aids wounded veterans.

New York Times: "Mr. Portman’s wife, Jane Portman, joined her husband at the wounded veterans’ event Tuesday morning... “This is just how he rolls,” she said. “He’s a positive, optimistic person. These are activities that he’s been involved with and engaged with for years and years. They are positive and they are hopeful, and they lift people up and they pull people together.”

Rob Portman: Fighting for our Veterans
Honoring his dad, who was a World War II Army Infantry Lieutenant, and his grandfather, who was a World War I Army Infantry veteran, Rob believes we should do all that we can to fight for our nation’s veterans. They fought for us, and now we must fight for them.

Honoring All of Our Fallen Heroes:
Rob authored the bipartisan Veterans Missing in America Act, which became law in 2012. This important legislation allows the VA to work with veterans groups to determine whether unidentified or abandoned remains are those of veterans eligible for burial at a National Cemetery. Veterans have put country above self to defend our nation, and they deserve our utmost respect, even if they have no families to claim their remains.

Fixing the VA Backlog:
Rob is a leader in pushing for increased accountability and efficiency at the Department of Veterans Affairs.  He has consistently pressed the VA to address the unacceptable backlog in veterans’ claims, including joining the Ohio congressional delegation to request monthly accountability reports on the VA’s efforts to eliminate the backlog.

Rob has also worked to make sure VA resources are focused on our veterans – and not union activities. He introduced the Federal Employee Accountability Act, a bill that reduces the wrongly-named “official time” - time dedicated to political union activities that have nothing to do with the official work of the VA.  A report from the Office of Personnel Management showed that the government spent $155 million on 3.4 million hours of this so-called “official time” in 2011. This activity is an unacceptable use of taxpayer dollars, especially while so many of our veterans are awaiting responses on their claims.

Improving Mental Health Care and Access for Veterans:
Rob introduced the Medical Evaluation Parity for Servicemembers (MEPS) Act, a bill to improve the way the military handles mental health assessments by instituting mental health screenings at entry and exit from service. The entry screening would serve as a baseline for future mental health assessments throughout servicemembers’ careers and help detect potential problems earlier, a key element of successful suicide prevention and mental health treatment efforts.

The MEPS Act also requires the Defense Department to report on the effectiveness of mental health components of the Separation Health Assessment (SHA) servicemembers receive when leaving active duty. Rob’s bill has received the endorsement of over 40 prominent veterans organizations and mental health advocacy groups.

Leading the Fight on the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA):
Rob is a national leader in the fight to combat the prescription drug and heroin epidemic. Working with Ohio veterans, Rob crafted the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) in an effort to provide additional help and resources to veterans struggling with drug addiction. Specifically, CARA gives the Attorney General authorization to award grants to Veteran Treatment Courts as well as increases veteran access to drug courts as they recover. Last week, CARA passed the U.S. Senate by an overwhelming vote of 92-2.

Helping Veterans Receive College Credit:
Rob introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act in 2012 to standardize educational transcripts so veterans who are trying to go back to college can more easily receive credit for their military training.

Listening to Ohio Veterans’ Concerns:
Rob has hosted five Veterans Townhall Meetings across Ohio to hear directly from veterans. These include their concerns on compensation benefits, access to medical care, and their perceptions about the Department of Veterans Affairs overall.

Working to Improve Veterans’ Health Services:
Rob is a strong proponent for telemedicine for our veterans and has pressed VA officials to speed up pilot programs designed to reduce barriers to care.  

Telehealth is an innovative, 21st century approach to problems involving Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), especially for veterans living in rural areas, where access to mental health treatment is limited, wait times can be long, and in-home access opportunities are rarely utilized.

Rob successfully included an amendment to the NDAA that requires DOD to report on current telehealth initiatives as well as plans to integrate telehealth into the military healthcare system.  This report specifically addresses privacy concerns and challenges of implementing telehealth in-group treatment/therapy, outreach to rural areas, and as in-home use.

Rob is an original cosponsor of the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014. The legislation expands education and health care benefits for veterans as well as expands in-state tuition for Post 9/11 GI Bill eligible veterans.

Helping to Prevent Veteran Suicide:
Rob supported and voted in favor of the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act, legislation that improves the Department of Veterans Affairs’ mental health programs.

Helping Ensure Returning Veterans Can Return to their Jobs:
Rob cosponsored legislation that allows Guardsmen and Reservists employed at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to return to their jobs after they return from being called to active duty.  The jobs of all other non-military public and private sector employees called up to duty are protected under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployments Rights Act (USERRA).  The legislation required TSA to comply with USERRA.

Rob is an original cosponsor of the bipartisan Hire More Heroes Act. The legislation offers incentives to companies that hire veterans. The bill became law in July 2015.

Doolittle Raiders:
Rob teamed with Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) on legislation to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the World War II Doolittle Raiders. The bill, which passed the U.S. Senate in November 2013, also places the medal on permanent display in Ohio’s National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright Patterson Air Force Base.

Purple Hearts for Fort Hood Victims:
Rob is a cosponsor of the Honoring Fort Hood Heroes Act, which changes DOD policies to allow the Purple Heart to be awarded to servicemembers killed or injured during domestic terror attacks like the 2009 Fort Hood shooting.

World War II Memorial Prayer Act:
Rob introduced and championed legislation that directed the Interior Secretary to install a plaque or inscription at the National World War II Memorial with the words that President Franklin D. Roosevelt prayed with the nation on June 6, 1944, the morning of D-Day. Rob was proud to announce on June 6, 2014, D-Day that his legislation was heading to the President for signature.

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