Congressman Salazar's Comments During The Veterans' Affairs Committee About President's Budget Proposal
Today, U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson was questioned by the House Veterans' Affairs Committee about President Bush's budget proposal that only increases funding for health care services by six percent. In the past, his department has testified that funding must be increased at least 13 percent to meet rising costs from medical inflation and increasing demand. As a member of the committee, U.S. Rep. John T. Salazar (CO-3) issued the following statement:
"Mr. Chairman, Monday I visited with soldiers from Colorado at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Monday also happens to be the day the President released his budget proposal for 2008. While at Walter Reed, I sat with a young man who took a shot gun blast at point blank range. Then I spent some time with a twenty-five-year old double amputee. The third soldier, a native of the Colorado plains, was recently fitted with a prosthetic left leg. And the fourth is a Lt. Col recovering from a bullet that shattered his right leg.
These brave soldiers are representatives of the thousands of injured men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces that have returned from Afghanistan and Iraq.
Over 50,000 troops have sustained serious injuries in this war. Yet the President is proposing an increase in VA health funding that fails to adequately fund the basic necessities of our future generation of war veterans.
The President says his budget meets the growing health care needs of our Nation's Veterans, yet fails to adequately fund medical care for Colorado's 400,000 veterans, and troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
The President claims he's expanding the Department's ability to provide mental health care, yet this proposed budget fails the thousands of servicemembers returning from war with PTSD and other psychological traumas of war.
With the President's proposed budget, the Veterans' Administration will be forced to shift resources from the care of our aging veteran population to address the needs of our most severely injured veterans returning from combat today.
Mr. Chairman, the cost of this war must not be shouldered solely by the brave men and women who have fought for our freedoms. It is our responsibility to guarantee that our veterans get the benefits that they were promised the day they signed up for service."