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Arkansas Delegation Members Tell President to Make Veterans a Priority

Location: Washington, DC

Arkansas Delegation Members Tell President to Make Veterans a Priority

Alarmed by the increasing number of pending compensation and pension claims for veterans, members of the Arkansas congressional delegation called on President Bush to provide adequate funding for our nation's veterans in his upcoming budget submission to Congress.

In two letters sent to the President earlier this week, the Arkansas lawmakers highlighted the Veterans Benefits Administration's (VBA) "Workload Report," which found that over the past year the backlog of veterans' claims had increased nearly 17 percent, from 517,574 to 604,308. With an aging veterans population and more servicemen and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, the number of pending claims will undoubtedly continue to rise.

Members of the Arkansas congressional delegation called for the President to provide the VBA with the funding it needs to overcome its increasing backlog and offer timely and accurate benefits to veterans and their families.

"Our nation's veterans deserve the best services we can provide them after their great sacrifice on our behalf," U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln said. "The number of veterans whose lives are put on hold is unacceptable and the President should maintain our country's commitment to our veterans and make funding their needs a top priority."

"We must do all that we can to keep our commitment to take care of our servicemen and women who put their life on the line for our country," U.S. Senator Mark Pryor said. "Ensuring that the VBA is properly funded is a critical step toward fulfilling this promise. I hope the President will recognize this and ensure that the funding is available to alleviate this ineffective backlog."

"With the President's recent announcement to increase troop levels in Iraq, it is absolutely critical to strengthen support for veterans' services," said U.S. Representative Marion Berry. "These men and women have served their country well, and deserve the best treatment possible when they return to the United States. They do not deserve to wait months for answers to their claims or to stand in line for critical health care services."

"The needs of our active duty soldiers, veterans and their families should receive the highest priority in the President's budget next year," U.S. Representative Mike Ross said. "With the ever-increasing strains and the growing backlog of claims faced by the Veterans Benefits Administration, it is essential that the President include the necessary staff and resources in his budget to provide for all men and women who have sacrificed so much for our nation. I am proud to join with my colleagues to advocate for these necessary funds."

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