Less than a week after the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee lost its top Republican lawmaker, the senior Republican on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee announced he will retire from Congress at the end of this year.

Tennessee Rep. Phil Roe, the ranking member on the committee and served as its chairman from 2017 to 2019, has been in Congress since 2009. He said he made the decision in recent days to make his sixth term his last.

“As someone who practiced medicine for over 30 years, I said I would serve five or six terms because I never intended this job to be a second career,” he said in a statement. “I look forward to spending more time at home with my wife, Clarinda, my adult children and my grandchildren.”

Roe has been a key feature in veterans health care debates in recent years, both in his role as a top committee lawmaker and because of his background in the medical industry. During his time on the Hill, he would frequently mention the thousands of babies he helped deliver during his time working as a physician in Tennessee.

Roe, 74, served in the Army for two years after graduating from the University of Tennessee College of Medicine. His service included a deployment to South Korea to work in medical billets at Camp Casey.

He considered retirement in 2017 after being diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer, but opted to run again after treatments removed all traces of the disease.

Roe listed among his most notable accomplishments the committee’s focus on new health care access standards and oversight of the Department of Veterans Affairs new push towards electronic health records that are compatible with Department of Defense systems.

“I was proud to author the MISSION Act — a transformative piece of legislation to ensure veterans have the ability to receive the best possible care now, and in the future — and the Forever GI Bill — to ensure veterans never lose access to the education benefits they have earned,” he said.

“I’ll leave Congress at the end of the year knowing that our nation’s heroes are better served today because of our work.”

Roe’s news comes just days after the departure of former Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., who retired at the end of December in part because of increasing health issues.

So far, 26 House Republicans have announced plans not to seek re-election this fall. Only nine sitting Democratic House lawmakers have opted to leave thus far.

Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.

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