District Connection - 5/9/16

May 9, 2016
E-Newsletter Archive


 While no one week can completely capture all the hard work that goes into earning a spot at one of America’s Service Academies, in recent days I’ve had the opportunity to spend time with some remarkable Seventh District students eager to serve.  Some were just beginning to explore their interest in service and others were celebrating their hard-earned appointments that begin in coming weeks. 

Last Saturday, young people from across Georgia gathered at Dobbins Air Reserve Base for the annual Service Academy Day to hear from representatives and learn more about admission requirements. This event -- the best and largest of its kind anywhere in America -- unofficially kicks off our  7th District academy nomination process each year, and I always look forward to sharing it with local students and their families. Students as young as 8th grade and as old as high school juniors were on-hand to learn more about how to put their best application forward for one of the coveted academy slots. Saturday was especially rewarding as the 7th District’s own Brooke Wheeler, who I had the privilege of nominating four years ago, was chosen by the U.S. Air Force Academy to return to Georgia and speak to aspiring cadets about her passion for and experience with the U.S. Air Force Academy.  She’ll graduate next month, and I couldn’t be prouder of what she’s accomplished.

Rep. Rob Woodall visits with Air Force Academy Cadet and 7th District resident Brooke Wheeler

And while those young leaders were just beginning their application journey, on Wednesday I celebrated with students from the 7th District who are such standouts that my academy panel and I nominated them last year and they received appointments this spring to enter our Service Academies this fall.  The application process – not to mention the years of hard work required to get them to this point – is extraordinary and demanding, but through it, they have all earned their place at institutions second to none. It was a thrill to visit with them and their families as they finish one phase of leadership and prepare themselves for the next exciting chapter. I have no doubt they’ll be successful, and with young leaders like these, I have no doubt that America’s best days are most certainly ahead.

Rep. Rob Woodall meets with 7th District students who have been appointed to one of our nation's five service academies



On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to visit with local Kiwanis members from across the 7th District.  They face the very same issues that many families and small business owners across our nation face – a struggling economy, an overly burdensome federal government, and the sense that America is heading in the wrong direction. However, I was also reminded how critically important local communities are to America's success. Recently, these local Kiwanis members came together to raise more than $20,000 for pregnant women to provide vaccines for a devastating illness – maternal and neonatal tetanus -- which is entirely preventable, but often the treatment is unaffordable. I am constantly proud of my friends and neighbors who, when confronted with a problem, come together to find a solution. I appreciate the invitation to join them this month and look forward to coming back in the future.



I've said it many times before, but too often people believe that Washington just can't work together for the good of the country. The great news is that simply isn't true. I went to the House floor right before our most recent District Work Week to talk about those successes that we've built together and to discuss what more we have to do. I hope you'll take a moment to click on the picture below and watch my speech.



I want to extend a big thank you to Chapter 1030 of the Vietnam Veterans of America for inviting me to speak at their monthly meeting in Cumming last Monday. I absolutely admire the passion and commitment that Chapter 1030 has for advocating on behalf of all Vietnam veterans, and I was very glad to have the opportunity to visit with them. During the meeting, we discussed a number of serious and important topics including making sure we keep the promises that we’ve made to our nation’s veterans and the work that still remains to be done to ensure that the VA is kept accountable.

On a more personal note, we also discussed some of the recent “casework success stories” where my team has successfully resolved issues that several 7th District veterans were having with the VA. I’ll tell you exactly what I told Chapter 1030 during the meeting:  I am here to serve you and your family, so if you are a veteran who’s having any issues with the VA or know of a 7th District veteran who is, I hope you won’t hesitate to reach out to my dedicated team at 770-232-3005 or by email at woodall@mail.house.gov. My colleagues and I in Washington might not be able to change the law to fix all of the problems with the VA overnight, but I relish in the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of individual veterans in the meantime.   



I often say that the best part of my job is meeting with the young people of our community, and luckily, I was able to do just that last Tuesday. I visited an after-school program in the South Gwinnett cluster that was started by two individuals from Graystone Church. Jim and Melinda Hollandsworth founded a program – The Path Project – in 2009 to help kids from families with limited English proficiency perform better in school. We’re spoiled in Gwinnett and Forsyth Counties with tremendously high-achieving public schools, so it’s easy to forget that according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, in Georgia, only 64% of Latino students graduate from high school. That’s the third-lowest graduation rate in the nation for Latino students.

Federal laws, like the Every Student Succeeds Act, are meant to help local schools improve English language skills and boost graduation rates for all students. But it’s clear that the federal government can’t do it alone. We need community leaders like those involved in The Path Project in order to succeed. And the good news is that The Path Project isn’t just a labor of love for the Hollandsworth family; it’s a great example of how our entire community comes together to help each other -- from local moms, to Georgia Gwinnett College students, to members of local churches, and more. Again, when our community sees a need, our community members step-up to help. I am so proud to represent these values! 

Rep. Rob Woodall visits with students, teachers, and parents at The Path Project in Loganville

The Path Project partners with families, schools, churches, and businesses to help children and teenagers in at-risk communities close the achievement gap and find the right path for their lives in all aspects of life – spiritual, academic, and social. They hope that every child who is part of The Path Project will develop a stronger bond with God, graduate from high school with a plan for their future, and become productive members of society who will give back to our community. I can tell you first-hand from my visit that the parents and students who are involved in The Path Project are going to achieve all their goals. These kids are hungry for knowledge, and their parents are working hard right along side them to encourage them and show them that our community is invested in their success. I am grateful to the folks at The Path Project for opening their hearts to me and making me part of their team. I am proud to be working for them in Washington.



Though I don’t normally spend time during a District Work Week talking about what has been happening in Washington, I wanted to highlight a House oversight hearing from a few weeks ago that seems especially critical given the amount of time I spent last week with our nation’s future military leaders.

In the wake of another horrific terrorist attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, in April that killed roughly 65 and wounded over 300 more, the House Foreign Affairs Committee held a joint subcommittee hearing addressing the security situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan and examining the President’s proposals for dealing with terrorism in this part of the world. We all know that terrorism will not be stopped overnight. This is a long-term battle, but it’s one that we must win and one that our brave men and women in uniform are committed to winning. Our job as policymakers is to ensure that they have the ability to win the fight.

Unfortunately, members of the committee were warned that the Taliban is taking advantage of the Obama Administration’s restrictions on U.S. support for Afghan forces, and members were asked to pressure the Administration into expanding close air support and surveillance of the Taliban. We’ve seen what turning a blind eye to increased terrorist activity has done in Iraq and Syria and the extreme humanitarian and security losses that the world has endured. We simply cannot let that happen again in Afghanistan and Pakistan.



This week the House is expected to consider a number of bills that address our nation’s troubling epidemic of opioid addiction and abuse. According to the CDC, more than 60% of all drug overdose deaths can be attributed to an opioid – either a prescription drug or an illegal opioid like heroin. In fact, 78 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. Solving this terrible problem is going to require a nationwide effort, and I’m happy that the House and Senate are working together to help American families and our health care system better deal with this issue. 

On Tuesday evening, I will be hosting a Telephone Town Hall Meeting. This meeting is an open forum, so I encourage you to call-in and listen to what your fellow 7th District residents have to say. And if you have a question or a concern about how the federal government is serving you, I hope that you will share it with me. 

Telephone Town Hall Meeting
Tuesday, May 10th
7:30pm – 8:00pm
Dial-In: (877) 229-8493
Passcode: 115446

I look forward to talking with you on Tuesday!


Rob Woodall
Member of Congress