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My Year in Washington

U.S. Senator David Vitter leads a town hall earlier this year.

Sen. David Vitter looks back at 2013

I’d like to take a moment to reflect on some of our accomplishments in 2013. National debates in Washington sometimes overshadow all of the positive progress we make for folks in Louisiana. We can get positive results outside of just passing bills. For example, my staff and I are here to help with any issues you may have with federal government agencies – from issues ranging from Veterans Affairs to FEMA. I have seven offices throughout Louisiana to help you with any problems you may have with a federal government agency.

Below are some of the ways my staff and I have helped Louisianians cut through the federal government’s bureaucracy this year:


Town Hall Meetings: Every Parish, Every Congress

Since my election to the Senate, I’ve made keeping in touch with Louisiana residents my top priority. In order to best hear about issues important to you, I made a pledge to hold a town hall meeting in all 64 parishes every Congress. Hosting town hall meetings has been a great way to stay in touch and hear about the issues most important to Louisianians.

In addition to my town hall meetings, my staff hosts satellite office hours around the state so folks don’t have to travel as far as they may need to reach one of my regional offices. My staff visited every parish at least once this year to host satellite office hours.

Thank you to everyone who has been able to make it to my town hall meetings or to satellite office hours with my staff. If you haven’t been able to, know that there will be many more town halls and satellite office hours next year too.


Protecting Louisianians from Flood Insurance Rate Spikes

A small business owner contacted our office for help with his unaffordable flood insurance premium of over $15,000. His policy was up for renewal, and he absolutely couldn’t afford the rate. After working with FEMA, we learned that his rate had been miscalculated. His new flood insurance policy saves him and his business over $8,000 – allowing him to keep his business open.

Additionally, fighting for a legislation fix is among my top priorities.


A Home for Homeless Veterans

A home for homeless veterans was opened in Bastrop earlier this year. It will be the first veterans’ shelter in northeast Louisiana.

The need is so real and the need is so great. Of all the U.S. veterans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan, over 5 percent are homeless. That’s about 63,000 veterans. Sadly we have more of our share in Louisiana and northeast Louisiana is the only part of the state with no homeless facility for veterans. This facility will help begin to fill that need, and I was very grateful to be a part of the dedication ceremony.


Bringing Family Home for the Holidays

Both Wendy and I are huge advocates of adoption, and it was very heartwarming to help a family in New Orleans. They had been struggling for years to adopt a child from Uzbekistan. I reached out to the Ambassador in support of the family, and they were invited to travel to the country to meet with adoption officials. The family was able to bring a daughter back to New Orleans just in time for Thanksgiving.


Recovering from Hurricane Damage

In Louisiana, it seems like just when we get through FEMA’s bureaucracy for reimbursements and assistance, we get hit by another storm. Earlier this year a parish president contacted our Baton Rouge office about getting reimbursed by FEMA for hurricane cleanup dating back to Hurricane Gustav. Without the reimbursement, the parish would be on the hook for millions of dollars that it couldn’t afford. We worked with FEMA to find a fair, positive resolution.


A Helping Hand for our Veterans

A veteran from Lafayette reached out to our office for help with getting monthly compensation from the VA. Compensation they earned and deserve by serving our country, I should add. By working with the VA, we were able to help him receive a retroactive reward of over $200,000 for corrected rate decisions. This allowed the veterans to afford a life-changing liver transplant.


Working in Washington certainly makes me appreciate representing Louisiana. I’m looking forward to spending this holiday season with Wendy, our kids and our extended family. And I wish you and your family a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.


David Vitter is a U.S. Senator for Louisiana.You can sign up for his newsletter by visiting http://vitter.senate.gov/

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Sean Green is managing editor of the Bossier Press-Tribune.

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