WOUNDED WARRIOR ASSISTANCE ACT OF 2007
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Mr. LARSON of Connecticut. Mr. Chairman, today I rise in strong support of H.R. 1538, the Wounded Warrior Assistance Act, which would be the first step in addressing poor patient care and problems experienced in navigating the military's medical bureaucracy.
In February 2007, the media uncovered the grotesque living conditions, inattentive care, and bureaucratic hassles experienced by some of the wounded soldiers staying at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. However, the situation at Walter Reed is not an isolated case, but a systemic problem that plagues the veteran health care system. A recent review by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) of 1,400 hospitals and other veterans' care facilities found ``more than 1,000 reports of substandard conditions--from leaky roofs and peeling paint to bug and bat infestations.'' In Connecticut, approximately 2,500 veterans are waiting for benefits. The military health care system is understaffed and drowning in a backlog of cases and unable to provide our veterans with the benefits and resources they sacrificed a great deal to earn.
The Wounded Warrior Assistance Act would restore the process of integrity and efficiency in our nation's military health care system. This bill would create a new system of case managers, advocates, and counselors for wounded service members returning from combat overseas to help them get the care they need and to help navigate the military's health care bureaucracy. The legislation would also require the establishment of a toll-free hotline for reporting deficiencies in facilities supporting medical patients and family members. Under H.R. 1538, the Department of Defense (DoD) and the VA would conduct a joint study on the disability evaluation systems operated by both departments in order to improve the consistency between these two systems.
I applaud the leadership of Chairman SKELTON and the honorable members of the House Armed Services Committee who crafted the legislation before us today. Congress has an obligation to be a watchdog for our veterans and ensure they receive appropriate care. These men and women have sacrificed their lives for our freedoms and they deserve the best health care and resources our country can provide.
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