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Salazar, House Dems Call for Vets Care to be Included in Iraq Supplemental

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


Salazar, House Dems Call for Vets Care to be Included in Iraq Supplemental

"Providing for Veterans Is Continuing Cost of War"

3/7/2006

WASHINGTON, DC - Led by Congressman John Salazar (CO-3), the newest Member of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, House Democrats today moved to prevent a repeat of last year's shameful shortfall in funding for the Department of Veterans' Affairs. In a letter sent to Speaker Hastert this morning, more than 120 House Democrats called for the inclusion of $630 million in veterans' health care funds as part of the President's $72.4 billion Iraq War Supplemental request:

"We believe that providing for our military veterans and their families is a continuing cost of war and an important component of our national defense. We are concerned that the Administration may have once again underestimated the total number of veterans that will seek services at the VA, including new veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Mr. Speaker, we strongly urge you to correct the Administration's oversight and recognize that caring for our veterans is an ongoing cost of war."

Said Salazar: "With the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, we've created a whole new generation of veterans who need our care. We cannot have a repeat of last year's shameful budget shortfall. It is time for us to be honest in our budgeting and recognize the urgency of providing full funding for veterans health care. Our troops bravely put their lives on the line and it is our moral duty to provide them with the care and benefits they were promised."

The complete text of the letter and the full list of signatories follows:

Honorable Dennis Hastert
Speaker
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Mr. Speaker:

We believe that providing for our military veterans and their families is a continuing cost of war and an important component of our national defense. We simply have no excuse for not meeting their needs. For some, it easy to forget that budgets and numbers ultimately reflect our priorities and affect real people. Indeed, by failing to include any money for veterans' health care and readjustment services in the $72.4 billion emergency war supplemental request, the Administration again has failed to acknowledge the added stress and resource demands the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are placing on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Accordingly, we respectfully request that you work with the Appropriations Committee to provide additional resources for the VA within the emergency war supplemental.

We believe that at least $630 million is urgently needed to care for troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the heroes from prior conflicts who rely upon the VA for their health care. Specifically, we are seeking $250 million to support increased demand for mental health services for returning troops; $200 million for direct medical services, including treating traumatic brain injury and other complex blast injuries, and additional resources for the VA's Polytrauma Rehabilitation Centers; $110 million for increased demand for VA prosthetics; $15 million for medical and vocational rehabilitation services; and $55 million for increased staff to process the growing disability claims backlog of more than 370,000, including claims homeless disabled veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who are waiting months for decisions.

Mr. Speaker, last year, we saw the VA face disgraceful shortfalls in its health care budget, shortfalls that had a direct impact upon the care received by veterans. Ultimately, the Administration begrudgingly admitted these shortfalls and was forced to request additional resources. We are concerned that the Administration may have once again underestimated the total number of veterans that will seek services at the VA, including new veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Mr. Speaker, we strongly urge you to correct the Administration's oversight and recognize that caring for our veterans is an ongoing cost of war.

Sincerely,

John Salazar
Lane Evans
Nancy Pelosi
Steny Hoyer
James Clyburn
John Larson
John Spratt
Ike Skelton
Stephanie Herseth
Ted Strickland
Shelley Berkley
Vic Snyder
Tom Udall
Luis Gutierrez
Bob Filner
Darlene Hooley
Silvestre Reyes
Corrine Brown
Mike Michaud
Zoe Lofgren
Carolyn McCarthy
Ed Case
Debbie Wasserman-Schultz
Lloyd Doggett
Robert Brady
Robert Wexler
Adam Smith
Mike Thompson
Mark Udall
Joe Crowley
Stephen Lynch
Joe Baca
Mike Doyle
Patrick Kennedy
Jim Davis
David Scott
Frank Pallone
Allyson Schwartz
Jim McGovern
Brian Higgins
Albert Wynn
Stephanie Tubbs Jones
Rush Holt
Tammy Baldwin
David Wu
Jan Schakowsky
Jim McDermott
Kendrick Mek
Tom Allen
Robert Scott
Susan Davis
Rahm Emanuel
Raul Grijalva
Ben Chandler
Donna Christian-Christensen
Eddie Bernice Johnson
Danny Davis
Diana DeGette
Al Green
Julia Carson
Grace Napolitano
Lois Capps
Hilda Solis
Dennis Kucinich
Ed Markey
William Jefferson
Peter DeFazio
Eleanor Holmes Norton
Rick Boucher
Paul Kanjorski
Henry Waxman
Bernard Sanders
Gary Ackerman
Barney Frank
Peter Visclosky
Rosa DeLauro
Jerry Costello
Alan Mollahan
Bart Gordon
Marion Berry
Doris Matsui
Gene Taylor
John Dingell
Nita Lowey
Lucille Roybal-Allard
Carolyn Maloney
Sherrod Brown
Alcee Hastings
Marcy Kaptur
Tom Lantos
Maurice Hinchey
Mike McIntyre
Robert Andrews
Solomon Ortiz
Madeline Bordallo
Barbara Lee
Ron Kind
Diane Watson
Charlie Gonzales
Tim Ryan
Martin Meehan
Chet Edwards
Ben Cardin
Earl Blumenauer
Jerrold Nadler
James Oberstar
Brian Baird
Sanford Bishop
Dan Lipinski
William Lacy Clay
Neil Abercrombie
Adam Schiff
Bart Stupak
Louise Slaughter
William Delahunt
Norm Dicks
Eliot Engel
Maxine Waters
Edolphus Towns
Rick Larsen
Xavier Becerra
David Price
Dale Kildee
Elijah Cummings
Mike Ross
Jim Langevin

cc: Honorable Jerry Lewis, Chairman, House Committee on Appropriations

http://www.house.gov/apps/list/press/co03_salazar/vetssupp.html

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