DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2005 -- (House of Representatives - June 22, 2004)
The Committee resumed its sitting.
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Mr. MORAN of Kansas. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.
Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the courtesies extended to me by the gentleman from California (Mr. Lewis), the chairman.
I rise to discuss an amendment that under appropriate circumstances, if the rules allowed, I would offer today concerning the health care services that are being provided to our service men and women.
In 1997 this Congress passed legislation requiring the Department of Defense to conduct predeployment and post-deployment physicals for our servicemen and women, and as a member of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs and one who chaired the Committee on Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Health for a number of years, we looked at this issue, and my goal in examining what was going on or not going on was based on a concern that we did not want our servicemen and women to return to the United States after deployment and incur Persian Gulf War syndrome.
And one of the things we learned from the Persian Gulf War syndrome studies was that we needed a baseline to know what our servicemen and women encountered, what their health condition was before they departed for their deployment and what their physical condition was when they returned.
In 1997, Congress passed legislation requiring the Department of Defense to conduct physical examinations upon those servicemen and women. I have concerns that those physical examinations are not occurring, and in fact, the GAO report that my subcommittee heard about, took testimony from the GAO, indicates that someplace between 38 and 98 percent of the deployed personnel are lacking in one or both of those physical examinations.
Again, this is an issue that I have requested an additional hearing from the Committee on Veterans' Affairs. During my term as subcommittee chairman, we conducted a series of hearings about the health conditions that our servicemen and women were encountering, and believed that it is awfully important for these physicals to take place, and it is uncertain as to whether they are.
In fact, in March of this year, the Committee on Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations took testimony, and the DOD indicated that servicemen and women who answer yes to certain questions on the questionnaire then have a referral for additional examinations. That implies to me that those who answer no to questions are not receiving those health care physical examinations by health care personnel.
And so the amendment that I am discussing here today would express a sense of Congress that the Department of Defense should fully comply with section 107(f)(b) of Title 10 of the United States Code relating to those predeployment and post-deployment medical examinations.
And, again, I would hope that we could hold the Department of Defense's feet to the fire for purposes of protecting the lives and safety and the health of our servicemen and women now deployed.