Kansas Common Sense


Welcome to “Kansas Common Sense.” Thanks for your continued interest in receiving my weekly newsletter. Please feel free to forward it on to your family and friends if it would interest them.

Standing Up Against Abuse at the VA
This week I spoke on the Senate floor to press for answers about the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) background check and hiring practices. I focused on one of the worst examples I’ve ever seen of the VA failing our veterans – the sexual abuse by a physician assistant at the VA Eastern Kansas Health Care System in Leavenworth, Kan. Click here to watch my remarks.

In this instance, the VA hired physician assistant Mark Wisner, who was previously convicted of a lewd act, continued credentialing him for patient care every two years, and kept him on their payroll for more than a month after he admitted to preying on, assaulting and abusing vulnerable veterans. I’ve written time and again and pressed VA Secretary McDonald for answers as to how this could have happened. I’ve also introduced legislation to cut pensions earned by VA providers who are convicted of a crime of violence against a veteran to make sure this never happens again. Click here to read more about my bill.

Giving Gold Star Families a Voice
The Library of Congress Veterans History Project collects stories that remind us of the courage and heroism of our veterans. Legislation I sponsored – the Gold Star Families Voice Act – passed the Senate this week and is now on its way to the president’s desk to expand the Veterans History Project to include servicemembers who died during their service or are missing in action. I led the effort to incorporate memories of fallen or MIA servicemembers to make certain the project best reflects the memories of generations of Americans like Jennifer Jackman, a Kansas Gold Star Mother who introduced me to this issue. Once the bill is signed into law, it will give Kansas families like Jennifer’s the opportunity to share their stories and honor their loved ones.

Supporting Legislation to Help Disabled Veterans
The Senate this week passed legislation I’ve led to support disabled veterans, the Veterans Mobility Safety Act (H.R. 3471). The bill includes provisions I authored to improve the quality and safety of mobility equipment for disabled veterans and language to improve the accessibility of hearing aid services for veterans seeking treatment at Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care facilities.

More than 1 million American veterans live with disabilities connected to their service. We must uphold our promise to provide quality care to those who sacrificed for our country. That care extends to the installation of equipment like wheelchair lifts and reduced-effort steering systems, which allow disabled veterans greater mobility and independence. This legislation makes certain the VA adheres to and enforces the highest quality and safety standards for mobility products.

The bill also includes common-sense improvements to increase veterans’ access to hearing specialists. Approximately 60 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans experience hearing loss and should not be forced to wait weeks or months to receive the care they deserve. There is a growing demand of veterans in need of services related to hearing loss, and this provides the VA with greater flexibility to treat our heroes. Click here to read full text of the legislation.

Joining the Wichita Rotary Club
Before my flight to D.C., I attended the Rotary Club of Wichita meeting on Monday and heard from keynote speaker Scott Redler who, along with Bill and Randy Simon, co-founded Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers. Freddy’s opened their first store in Wichita 14 years ago and now serves meals in 228 locations across the country. The business is a great example of how Kansas values – hard work, an entrepreneurial spirit and love of country – have combined to create an all-American success story. Restaurant namesake Freddy Simon was featured by ABC World News Tonight with David Muir on Veterans Day. Click here to see the video. Thanks to my friend Nestor Weigand for hosting me and to Rotary President Tammy Allen.

Learning About Augmented Reality Technology
I participated in a demonstration for a new innovation called augmented reality technology on Wednesday. This type of technology involves sensory input like sound or graphics designed to enhance or otherwise accompany your perception of the real-world settings. The potential for this new tech is significant, with implications in industrial, military, automotive, aviation and other fields. I learned specifically about applications using thermal vision to visualize pressure flow and improve worker safety. Augmented reality technology is already being used throughout the country today, and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for this exciting new tech, especially as it relates to workplace safety and efficiency improvements for the manufacturing industry in our state.

Marking World Pancreatic Cancer Day
On Thursday, I joined individuals from across the globe to raise awareness about this devastating form of cancer. While current statistics show that only 8 percent of pancreatic cancer patients survive more than five years in the United States, we can fight the disease with research, education and screening that helps with early detection and treatment. I am committed to changing outcomes for patients by making certain our country better understands this disease, as well as other forms of cancer. 

Visiting Community Hospitals in Ulysses and Satanta
Upon my return from D.C., I made stops on Friday afternoon at two southwest Kansas hospitals working hard each day to provide quality care to their communities. At Bob Wilson Memorial Grant County Hospital and Satanta District Hospital, I visited with staff and administrators about how federal policies can help enable facilities like these to continue providing quality services to their communities in the future. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Health Subcommittee, it is useful for me to visit our providers in the state to witness how they utilize resources to care for patients. Thanks to Administrators Deanna Mustin and Jeremy Clingepeel for hosting my visits and showing me around the facilities.

Attending Jewish Community Relations Bureau/American Jewish Committee Dinner in Kansas City
Over the weekend, I joined the Kansas City community in honoring Julia Irene Kauffman at the annual Jewish Community Relations Bureau/American Jewish Committee 2016 Human Relations Dinner. Julia Irene received the Henry W. Bloch award for her leadership and activism in the Kansas City community. She is the Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation. The Foundation's mission and vision focus on support of the performing and visual arts in the Greater Kansas City area. Sunday's JCRB-AJC event, attended by people of all faiths and backgrounds, reinforced the importance of justice for all, contributions to others and mutual respect among all members of the community.

Congratulating Gen. Richard Myers, Newly Named President of Kansas State University
The Kansas Board of Regents this week announced that General Richard Myers will continue serving as the 14th President of Kansas State University. Our nation’s first land-grant university is certain to benefit from his continued leadership. An esteemed alumnus, he not only served our nation honorably for 40 years, but also held the highest military position one can as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. As a longtime member of my Military and Veterans Advisory Committee, Gen. Myers’ counsel has been uniquely helpful. Our first-rate higher education institutions are among Kansas’ greatest assets, and I look forward to continuing to work alongside President Myers to help our state prosper.

Kansans in the Office
Via Christi Health
Bruce Witt of Wichita

Independent Sector
Rachel Marsh of Salina
Jerry Jones of Kansas City
Matt Stephens of Salina

American Civics Center State Department Congress Bundestag Exchange Students
Sarah Edenharter of Wamego
Antonia Lang of Baldwin City
Pauline Sauter of Baldwin City
Lauren Idahosa of Overland Park
Miriam Gaentgen of Olathe
Leticia Bork of Topeka
Anna Steven of Osawatomie
Louisa Schaefer of Wichita
Tom Smets of Paola

Overland Park Chamber
Mike Hess of Overland Park
Tracey Osborne of Overland Park
Tony Rupp of Overland Park
Tom Robinett of Overland Park
Brad Stratton of Overland Park
Michael Tracy of Overland Park

Citizens Climate Lobby
Tony Schmidt of Lawrence
Darrel Hart of Wichita
Tomas Green of Lawrence

Kansas Department for Children and Families
David Kurt of Topeka
Andrew Wiens of Topeka

Francis Xavier Catholic Church
Karen Stigers of Kansas City
John Stigers of Kansas City

Society for Human Resource Management
Lisa Carlton of Topeka
Stephanie Cool of Salina
Jennifer Locanthi of Manhattan
Catherine McMillen of Garden City
Stacey Moeder of Hutchinson
Amber Neises of Wichita
Shelbye Smith of Wichita
Brandy Soule of Winfield
Tammy Galvan of Wamego
Crystal Malchose of Wamego
Kevin Cool of Salina
Kathryn Carnahan of Lawrence
Theodore J Neises of Wichita

Heart to Heart International
Jim Mitchum of Lenexa

Capitol Tour
Steve Thomas of Hays
Sharon Steimel of Hays
Libby Charvat of Salina
Larry Charvat of Salina

Honored to Serve You in Washington
It is an honor to serve you in Washington, D.C. Thank you to the many Kansans who have been calling and writing in to share their thoughts and opinions on the issues our state and country face. I appreciate the words of Kansans, whether in the form of a form of letter, a Facebook comment or a phone call, who wish to make their voice heard.

Please let me know how I can be of assistance. You can contact me by email by clicking here. You can also click here to contact me through one of my Kansas offices or my Washington, D.C., office.

Very truly yours,

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