Smith Named VFW Legislator of Year
Congressman noted for his work on vet issues
The New Jersey State Veterans of Foreign Wars has named Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04), former chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, its 2015 Legislator of the Year.
VFW State Legislative Director William F. Thomson presented Smith with the award Monday in Hamilton, Mercer County. VFW State Commander Jack Kane announced the honor on June 19 at the VFW's annual convention in Wildwoods Convention Center in Wildwood, N.J.
“The men and women in uniform make tremendous, selfless sacrifices for our nation, and they must know that when they come home they will received the care and assistance they earned,” said Smith, who chaired the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee from 2001-2005 and authored more than a dozen veterans’ laws. “It is an honor for me to accept this award, but it is more of an honor to work for our veterans.”
The award read: “Congressman Chris Smith: 2015 Legislator of the Year. In recognition of your years of service and your outstanding support of America’s military service personnel and veterans. As a champion of veterans issues, ensuring that service members receive the necessary support and resources upon completing their service: you have continuously lead the challenge to keep America’s promise to our veterans.”
“Congressman Smith has been there for veterans for many years,” Thomson said. “He could receive this award every year.”
Smith is currently working on a homeless veterans bill to follow up his law Homeless Veterans Comprehensive Assistance Act. The bill is expected to be introduced this summer.
Smith was also an original cosponsor of the 2015 ‘‘Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act,” named in honor of the late Iraq and Afghanistan War veteran and suicide prevention advocate, Clay Hunt. It was passed by Congress and enacted into law earlier this year. The law, H.R. 203 seeks to quell this growing epidemic by increasing access to mental health care, requiring the VA to create a one-stop, interactive website to serve as a centralized source of information regarding all VA mental health services for veterans. The law also requires evaluations of all mental health care and suicide prevention practices and programs at the VA to find out what’s working and what’s not working and make recommendations to improve care, and creates a peer support and community outreach pilot program to assist transitioning servicemembers with accessing VA mental health care services.