A Veterans Administration (VA) clinic in Hickory, NC was first proposed in 1992 to improve the quality of health care for veterans of the Tenth District. Upon arriving in Congress in 2005, Congressman McHenry built bipartisan support to cut the bureaucratic red tape that had stalled the project for years. McHenry brought the Secretary of Veterans Affairs into his office to make the case for expediting a VA clinic in Hickory, NC.
With relentless pressure and persuasion, the clinic was finally approved and opened its doors on June 4, 2008. In its first phase, the VA clinic was serving 5,500 local veterans and was staffed by 39 full-time health care personnel and 5 primary care physicians.
The Hickory CBOC moved to a larger facility (23,000 Sq. Ft.) on Tate Blvd in June of 2010. The Clinic serves 8,600 veterans with 69 full-time staff. The staff includes eight providers in primary care, eight providers in mental health, two providers for eye care, two providers in audiology, one provider for home-based primary care, and features an on-site lab.
Congressman McHenry was recognized by the North Carolina Chapters of the American Legion and Marine Corps League for his work in getting the Hickory VA clinic opened.
Additionally, Congressman McHenry has worked tirelessly to end the systemic crisis facing the VA. He supported and helped pass the VA CHOICE Act to offer non-VA care at the Department’s expense to qualified veterans, and later worked to help fix the problems with the Choice program through the bipartisan VA MISSION Act, which Congressman McHenry supported. The bill strengthens and improves the VA healthcare system for the benefit of our nation’s veterans, while streamlining its community care programs to ensure timely and quality care. It consolidates the Choice Program with other VA community care programs into a single, permanent Veterans Community Care Program and expands community care eligibility to ensure that the decision to seek care outside of the VA will be between the veteran and his or her doctor. The bill also expands the Family Caregiver Program to pre-9/11 vets, which was heavily advocated for by Veteran Service Officers in Western North Carolina.
The House of Representatives also passed the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act in the 115thCongress to establish a streamlined process to remove VA employees for poor performance and the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act to modernize the VA’s broken appeals process and reduce backlog. Congressman McHenry supported both measures, which were later signed into law by President Trump.
Congressman McHenry has supported a number of legislative efforts to improve the lives of our nation’s veterans. While Social Security benefits are automatically adjusted for a cost-of-living (COLA) increases, legislation must be enacted annually to do so for VA beneficiaries. The Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2019, was passed by the House and signed into law on September 26, 2019. This legislation increases the COLA for veterans with service-related disabilities and the spouses, dependents, or survivors of disabled veterans receiving compensation from the VA. Other bills that McHenry helped pass include the Forever GI Bill to extend and improve the Post-9/11 GI Bill for veterans, surviving spouses, and dependents. He has also supported bills to address alternative forms of therapy for anxiety and PTSD, provide job training for careers in the STEM field, and assist veteran-owed small businesses.
Furhtermore, McHenry believes the epidemic of suicide among veterans is unacceptable and more can be done by the VA to combat this problem. That is why he cosponsored the Clay Hunt SAV Act, which included some of the most significant reforms to veterans’ mental health Congress has ever passed.