Freshman U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., whose name has garnered buzz as a contender to lead the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, has been named to the U.S. House Veterans Affairs Committee.
Mast made the announcement of his new assignment on Wednesday. At the start of the year, Mast, who served in the Army and who was wounded when serving in Afghanistan in 2010 which resulted in the amputation of both his legs, became the first member of Congress to open an office in a VA facility when he set up shop in the West Palm Beach VA. Since then, he has been joined by three Democrats who represent the area --Congresswoman Lois Frankel and Congressmen Ted Deutch and Alcee Hastings -- as they all take turns in the office meeting with constituents and helping veterans.
“I’m really excited to have the opportunity to serve our veterans on the Veterans Affairs Committee,” Mast said. “Our first-of-its-kind office in the West Palm Beach VA has resulted in more than 100 new cases that we’re taking a look at to help veterans in our community, and being on this committee will give me an even better platform to advocate for my fellow veterans.”
“I am thrilled to welcome Representative Mast to the House Committee on Veterans Affairs,” said U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., the chairman of the committee. “Brian is already a tireless advocate for veterans, and – as a veteran himself – is keenly aware of the challenges our nation’s heroes face. Representative Mast will be an excellent addition to the committee, and I look forward to working with him to reform VA.”
Mast, representing CD 18 along the Treasure Coast, wants his fellow members of Congress to follow his lead and open offices inside Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities.
Noting that it took a year of clearing red tape to open the office in a VA facility, back in March, Mast introduced the “Improving Veterans Access to Congressional Services Act.” Mast’s bill makes the VA secretary allow members of Congress to set up offices in VA facilities. The Florida Republican testified before the committee about his bill on Wednesday.
When he unveiled the bill, the freshman Republican said that having an office in a VA facility ensures veterans have better services and he encouraged other members of Congress to follow his example.
“Serving veterans in our community is not only deeply personal to me, it’s also the most frequent request that I get as a member of Congress,” Mast said when he introduced the bill. “Opening the first-ever congressional office inside a VA hospital has allowed us to help veterans on the spot: when and where they’re having an issue. Every single member of Congress should do the same at their local VA and this bill will pave the way to make that high level of service a reality for our veterans.”
Last week, there were reports that the White House was considering naming Mast to lead the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.