Weekly Capitol Report

Here to Help

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Washington, October 4, 2019 | comments

When I was a freshman in high school, I was summoned before my local city council over their objections to my FFA project. Their inflexible position forced my family to make a tough decision: if I wanted to keep my project operating—which is ultimately how I paid my way through college—my family and I would be forced to leave town. After multiple attempts to change the city’s mind, we moved outside the city limits.

After my experience, I wanted to make sure the government did not intrude on other people’s lives and freedoms, which is what inspired me to become an advocate for our area and our way of life.

Being your Representative has given me the ability to protect and support my fellow Missourians, especially those who have served in our military. Whether it is assistance in dealing with the Department of Veterans Affairs, trying to better understand GI Benefits, home ownership options, survivor benefits, or getting a copy of military records, I am always here to help the veterans of Southern Missouri. So far this year, I have assisted nearly 500 of our veterans and secured over $2 million in benefits they were duly owed. Veterans risk their lives to protect our freedoms and it is my privilege to advocate for our veterans and fight for the care and services they have earned.

One of my most rewarding experiences helping a local veteran happened a few years ago. This particular veteran was struggling to get a special cornea transplant approved at the VA because of an outrageous bureaucratic holdup: the only doctor who could do this surgery was not an approved provider in the VA Choice network. Frustrated by this administrative error, he reached out to me to expedite the approval of the doctor and his surgery, which I did within the week. It was months later that I ran into his mother, and she told me how the surgery saved her son’s eyesight. She shared with me touching words of gratitude about what this life-changing procedure meant to her and her family. It was such a special moment to see the real impact my work had on this family, and it is stories like this one that continue to fuel my love of service to our community.

My office’s assistance is not just limited to those who have served in the Armed Forces, but to any Missourian in our area who is struggling with the bloated bureaucracy of Washington. I want to make sure you are receiving the care and attention you are guaranteed as an American citizen.

Earlier this year, a Missourian in his early 50s, who had recently suffered a stroke and undergone open heart surgery, was struggling to pay for his medication. With only 20% heart function after his debilitating health issues, he felt completely distraught and totally helpless facing the uphill battle for his disability benefits. After being denied for a second time, he reached out to me to help him navigate the overly cumbersome and confusing appeals process at one of our federal agencies. Within two weeks, we were able to secure this man his disability benefits. Missourians should not have to be on a never-ending rollercoaster ride through red tape to obtain the assistance they are rightly owed.

There is no greater joy than directly helping the people I am so proud to represent. If you know of a veteran in need of help, or anybody needing assistance with Medicare or Social Security benefits, passport renewals, disaster assistance, federal grants, or even tours of our Nation’s Capital, please let me know – I am here to help! I am often traveling throughout our area visiting with many of the farmers, families, and local business owners who call Southern Missouri home so I can learn how I can better help and serve you. If you don’t see me when I’m out and about, please contact me by calling one of my five offices throughout southern Missouri, or by visiting my website at jasonsmith.house.gov/contact. Just let me know what I can do for you, because I am always here to help!