Press Releases

Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09) introduced legislation today to ensure that veterans discharged for “combat-related” injuries receive the benefits they have earned. In March 2008, the DoD narrowed the definition of “combat-related” and it has cost disabled veterans thousands of dollars in benefits. The legislation would revert back to the definition used prior to March 2008.

“This policy change has denied men and women in our armed forces - who have obviously sustained combat-related injures - access to thousands of dollars in benefits,” said Congressman Adam Smith. “This is unacceptable. Our brave men and woman in the armed services put their lives at risk everyday for this country and the least we can do is pay them the benefits they have earned.”

Last year, the Department of Defense issued a directive-memo which narrowed the scope of the definition of “combat-related.” This new definition made it more difficult for disabled veterans to receive their benefits from both the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The previous definition of “combat-related” was broadly defined and covered most, if not all, injuries sustained in a combat zone, combat training or other hazardous service. The new policy restricts the definition to include only those injured directly through armed conflict. As a result, members of the military who were injured while taking cover from incoming fire or sustained injuries from a roadside bomb have had their injuries ruled as being unrelated to combat, costing them thousands of dollars in benefits.

Due to his concerns with the change in policy and its impact on disabled veterans, Congressman Adam Smith introduced bipartisan legislation to require the Department of Defense to revert back to the definition used prior to the policy change in March 2008.

###

Sign up for email updates to learn more.

Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09) toured the town of Pacific over the weekend to meet with local leaders and residents and survey damage caused by the recent flooding. In addition to surveying the damage, the purpose of the trip was also to identify how the Federal Government can help with the recovery efforts and evaluate what can be done to prevent flooding of this scale in the future.

"I want to applaud the residents and local leaders who have responded extremely well in the face of this crisis. They had an emergency plan in place and they executed the plan very effectively," said Congressman Adam Smith. "We must now focus our attention on getting assistance to individuals and businesses in need of help with their recovery efforts. Homes and businesses have been severely damaged and there cannot be a delay in getting help to these people, they are relying on us to give them direction and assistance during this difficult time."

Governor Gregoire gave a preliminary estimate of damage to roads and state property at $125 million. U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters announced Friday that the state had immediate access to $2 million in federal aid and pledged more support once detailed assessments have been made. Congressman Smith has called for the disbursement of more federal funding and a timely assessment of what can be done to prevent this sort of flooding from happening again.

"We must also continue to assess the situation and put measures in place to prevent this sort of flooding in the future," Rep. Smith continued. "We should evaluate the levee system and current flood plain management plans and make any adjustments necessary to ensure flooding of this magnitude never happens again. My office will continue to be a resource to all the individuals, business owners and local officials during their recovery efforts."

###

Sign up for email updates to learn more.
 

Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09) congratulated Pierce County Fire Department District 17 on being awarded a $291,393 grant from the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency and U.S. Fire Administration.

“This money is critical to improving the safety conditions and efficiency of our firefighters. Over the last couple years, this program has become increasingly competitive and I applaud the department for its efforts in receiving this grant.” said Congressman Adam Smith. “The funding will not only protect the health and well-being of our firefighters, it will also improve their ability to protect the health and well-being of the residents they serve. Our nation’s fire departments are the first responders to almost every emergency situation and sometimes communities struggle to find the funding necessary to ensure their local fire departments function as safely and efficiently as possible. This grant program is one of the ways that we can help to ensure they have the funding necessary to protect our communities and themselves.”

The grant will provide funding to purchase new radio devices to improve communication and install an exhaust removal system in all four of its stations. Currently, the department has no formal exhaust removal system. The new systems will dramatically reduce firefighters’ exposure to harmful toxins released by vehicle exhaust and trapped in the garage. The new radios will significantly increase communication abilities within the department and allow emergency response to be coordinated more effectively.

The primary goal of the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) is to meet the firefighting and emergency response needs of fire departments and emergency medical services organizations. The grant, which has existed since 2001, helps firefighters and other first responders obtain critically needed equipment, protective gear, emergency vehicles, training, and other resources needed to protect the public and emergency personnel from fire and related hazards. The grant is administered through the Federal Emergency Management Agency in cooperation with the U.S. Fire Administration.

Rep. Adam Smith released the following statement on the recent attacks in Mumbai, India:

“The terrorist attacks that took place last week are extremely unfortunate and saddening. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families, and the people of India.”

“These coordinated and ruthless attacks on innocent civilians demonstrate the severe and urgent threat of violent extremism that the whole world faces. I hope this incident will remind people around the world that we must work together to root out violent extremism wherever it exists. This threat is not confined to a single nation or alliance of nations, it’s an ideology that spans the globe and so must our effort to stop it.”

Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09), Chairman of the House Armed Services Terrorism Subcommittee and Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, released the following statement on President-elect Barack Obama’s choices for his administration’s national security team:

“President-elect Obama has demonstrated, once again, that he will be a pragmatic, thoughtful leader detached from partisan politics and grounded in his commitment to restoring America’s standing in the world and safeguarding our security here at home.

“Retaining Secretary Gates is an excellent decision. Over the last two years, he has restored accountability to the Department of Defense and done a tremendous job managing extremely difficult situations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Gates is a highly competent leader who commands respect and can help President-Elect Obama shift gears in Iraq responsibly and place greater emphasis on Afghanistan.

“Senator Hillary Clinton is a very good choice for Secretary of State. She is respected around the world and has an understanding of the international system and how the United States can lead more effectively within it. Her appointment will be well received around the globe and her service will help to restore our standing in the world.

“I am pleased with all of President-elect Obama’s appointments to his national security team.  In particular, Gen. James Jones and Dr. Susan Rice, both of whom I have worked with and come to respect immensely over the years, will make an excellent National Security Adviser and Ambassador to the United Nations, respectively.  As demonstrated by the recent attacks in Mumbai and the attacks in Iraq today, difficult global challenges will continue to confront the next administration and it’s imperative that President Obama be surrounded by dedicated professionals who share his vision and compliment his sound judgment. With the appointments today, President-elect Obama has ensured this.”