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Public Statements

Motion to Instruct Conferees on H.R. 2055, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. DICKS. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

The motion instructs conferees to provide the highest level of funding for medical and prosthetic research. This program helps the Department of Veterans Affairs develop cutting-edge treatments for veterans and their families. It is fully integrated throughout the medical community through partnerships with academic affiliates, nonprofits, and commercial entities, as well as other Federal agencies. It is unique because both the clinical care and research occur together.

The Medical and Prosthetic Research Program plays a vital role in advancing the health and care of our Nation's veterans. Some of the areas that the Medical and Prosthetic Research Program focus on include mental health research, prosthetics, traumatic brain injury, and posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. The program has emphasized efforts to improve the understanding and treatment of veterans in need of mental health care.

We hear a lot about the casualties of war and soldiers who have sacrificed their lives in duty. However, over the past few years, the VA has begun to examine the psychological wounds of posttraumatic stress disorder. The motion will provide funding for the VA to care for veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan who may suffer from depression, anxiety, and substance abuse.

Funding for medical and prosthetic research in the House-reported bill was inadequate, and during floor consideration the House majority agreed to increase funding by $22 million. While I was pleased to see this increase, I believe we need to do more.

The Senate-passed bill funds this program at the FY2011 enacted level, which is $51 million higher than the House-passed level. I believe the higher funding levels should be maintained because of the impact this research can have on the everyday life of our Nation's veterans.

This Nation must get its fiscal house in order. However, even in an austere budget, we need to make room to fully fund our priorities. The Medical and Prosthetic Research Program is a high priority.

I'm sure that all of my colleagues would agree we can never repay America's veterans for the sacrifice they have made for our country. As a first installment, we should make a substantial investment in health care research for our veterans, and I urge a ``yes'' vote on the motion to instruct.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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