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Public Statements

Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2014

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. JACKSON LEE. Madam Chair, I'm hoping to convince my colleagues that, albeit what numbers you may have in this increasing and emerging epidemic of post-traumatic stress disorder, let me give a personal story that comes by way of my interaction often with veterans and, particularly, a post-traumatic stress disorder center that we were able to fund in a hospital that previously had not had the ability to serve Active Duty soldiers and veterans.

It's a small hospital off the campus of our main Veterans Hospital in Houston, Texas, but we established a post-traumatic stress disorder center there that allowed veterans who may not have traditionally been at the Veterans Hospital, not because they did not have benefits, but for a variety of reasons, to find a comfort place to be treated for their post-traumatic stress disorder.

And they were not just veterans of the Afghan and Iraq wars, but these were ones from the Persian Gulf, from Vietnam. And they could not thank the staff and could not thank the work that we had done to secure just a small amount of dollars, which this amendment does.

This takes a small amount of dollars from a very large funding for, certainly, a commendable challenge, but it is one that I believe would benefit, as we seek to create a better quality of life for our soldiers, wherever they might be, and our veterans.

This is a $500,000 deposit, if you will, on the high numbers of post-traumatic stress disorder. I have seen it in our returning soldiers, I have seen it in our veterans, and it is clearly something that is not going away.

I think the poignant story that I want to share is how grateful this particular veteran was, who said he had never been to treatment and his whole life had been turned around. His wife was there with him. She said their lives have been turned around.

So I ask my colleagues to consider the responsible approach that we have taken for just this amount of money to reinvest in our needy, but deserving, men and women who are both Active Duty. In the instance of the story that I gave, because this facility was able to utilize TRICARE, they could serve Active Duty, and they could serve those who were veterans as well.

So I thank the chairman and ranking member and urge support of the amendment.

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Ms. JACKSON LEE. Madam Chair, I'm overwhelmed and very grateful to Chairman Young, my dear friend who has done so much, as well as the ranking member, likewise, for his great service. He's done so much.

Let me just conclude by saying that PTSD, as both the chairman and the ranking member have agreed, is an invisible wound that you don't often see. One of the best ways to increase access to treatment is to increase the medical facilities and also the medical professionals. These additional dollars, as I understand the intent of both the ranking member and chairman, will be used effectively.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is one of the most prevalent, devastating psychological wounds suffered by the brave men and women. I ask my colleagues to support this amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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Ms. JACKSON LEE. I thank the chairman of the subcommittee and I thank the ranking member of the subcommittee.

Madam Chair, let me, first of all, acknowledge the hard work that it takes to provide for the men and women of the United States military and to secure America. As a member of the Homeland Security Committee, I am well aware of the combined efforts, obviously, in the military and the line of demarcation between civilian, but we all are committed to the national security of this Nation.

This amendment deals with the reduction in funding of the procurement Defense-wide by $1 million. I want to give the good news. The good news is that this money would be put in deficit reduction. But I do want to acknowledge that one of the issues that we must address as we go forward in the collective intelligence agencies, as we have listened to some of the challenges that we are facing in light of the present status of the leaks that have occurred by an American citizen who was working in the capacity as a contractor--this impacts all of us. So as this $1 million would be submitted into the deficit reduction pool, I believe it is extremely important that we look very closely at the extended use of civilian contractors, the extended use of a budget that is responsible for 70 percent of the intelligence of this country.

Now, I know that some of the contractors deal with issues that are not individual personnel, but are dealing with research and dealing with equipment. But I believe that it is important that we look at the question that resulted in the disclosure of leaked and highly sensitive classified information, and the continuing raising of concern of whether or not the national security of this Nation has been impacted because of the outsourcing of intelligence responsibility.

In particular, I think we need to look at the outsourcing of determining top secret clearance. Obviously, the circumstances that resulted in the leaking is an individual that had an interesting resume, from the educational level of a high school GED--of which we respect and encourage people to complete their education--of the military service, and then on to top secret by a contractor who gave out top secret clearances. We hope that there was some kind of review. So my amendment is intended to highlight this issue.

I would hope that as we proceed, that this question will, if you will, have the ability to slow--not halt--the use of civilian contractors out of all of our agencies dealing with the issue of intelligence. We want to assure the American people that we are concerned about the protection of this Nation's national security--civil liberties as well, but also to prevent the leaks that have occurred.

Let me conclude my remarks and let me just say that I hope this brings about a discussion that will cross jurisdictional lines of the Judiciary Committee, the Intelligence Committee, our appropriators. Let's fix this enormous use and reliance on these contractors' outsourcing. Let's develop a highly trained group of Federal Governmental professionals committed, if you will, to the ongoing service to their Nation. Respecting contractors have the same loyalty, but I think it would be better, Mr. Chairman, if we can frame the utilization of contractors in such a way that we can be assured that everything that deals with the national security of this Nation will be protected.

With that, I will withdraw the amendment.

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Ms. JACKSON LEE. Again, Mr. Chairman, I want to thank Mr. Young and Mr. Visclosky for their leadership for an important responsibility in this Nation.

My amendment increases funding for the Defense Health Program's research and development by $10 million. These funds will address the question of breast cancer in the United States military.

The American Cancer Society calls several strains of breast cancer as a particularly aggressive subtype associated with lower survival rates; in this instance, it's a triple negative. But I raise an article that says: ``Fighting a Different Battle; Breast Cancer and the Military.''

We all know, by the way, that breast cancer can affect both men and women. The bad news is breast cancer has been just about as brutal on women in the military as combat. Let me say that sentence again. Breast cancer has been just about as brutal on women in the military as combat. More than 800 women have been wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the Army Times; 874 military women were diagnosed with breast cancer just between 2000 and 2011. And according to that same study, more are suspected. It grows.

The good news is that we have been working on it, and I want to add my appreciation to the military. This, however, will allow for the additional research. As new young women come into the United States military, as women stay longer in the United States military, as women get older in the United States military, as women ascend to leadership roles in the United States military, these dollars provide research.

Not only is breast cancer striking relatively young military women at an alarming rate, but male servicemembers, veterans and their dependents are at risk as well. With a younger and generally healthier population, those in the military tend to have a lower risk for most cancers than civilians--including significantly lower colorectal, lung and cervical--but breast cancer is a different story.

Military people in general, and in some cases very specifically, are at a significantly greater risk for contracting breast cancer, says Dr. Richard Clapp, a top cancer expert at Boston University who works at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on military breast cancer issues. He says life in the military can mean exposure to a witch's brew of risk factors directly linked to greater chances of getting breast cancer.

So, my friends, I am asking that we do the right thing. We're on the right track, we're on the right rail, we're on the right road. But with the expansion of women in the military, I can assure you, for long life, a vital service that these men and women give, it is extremely important to move forward with this amendment.

Researchers point to a high use of oral contraception that's linked to breast cancer among women that would ensure that this particular amendment would be a positive step forward.

So I ask my colleagues to support the Jackson Lee amendment. With that, I reserve the balance of my time.

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