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VA Readiness Initiative Pushes For Better Care For Colorado Veterans

DENVER (CBS4) - At the American Legion in Denver, veterans like Terri Clinton shared war stories, not of enemy battle but battles at home with homelessness, unemployment, suicide.

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Teri Clinton (credit: CBS)

"If we make our veterans, who serve, come home and feel worthless, then we're not doing any of them any justice," said Clinton.

She says the country has failed to keep all it's promises to veterans. Sen. Cory Gardner introduced sweeping legislation aimed at changing that.

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Sen. Cory Gardner (left) (credit: CBS)

"These are pieces of legislation that we believe are important to make sure that we are ready every inch of the way to serve our veterans after they serve us," Gardner said.

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Gardner's VA Readiness Initiative includes six bills. They would reduce wait times for medical care by eliminating limits on who can access private doctors and expediting the hiring process at VA hospitals. There are also bills to expand the Boots to Business program for veteran entrepreneurs, help families of homeless veterans access shelter, increase medical oversight and accountability and improve health care outcomes using artificial intelligence.

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"Whether it's results of agent orange, whether it's other toxicities that they may have been exposed to by comparing a huge group of people to each other, we can learn how to treat them better," said Gardner.

Better treatment of veterans -- in all areas -- Terri Clinton says is desperately needed.

"I'm so thankful for you for doing this for us."

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The bill also addresses last year's controversy involving delays in GI benefits by auditing the program in the future and requiring the VA to make retroactive payments to veteran students immediately. Gardner is holding roundtables with veterans across the state to get their input on the legislation.

Colorado has among the highest number of veterans in the country.

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