CRAIG SAYS VA HEALTHCARE SHOULD NOT BE TARRED WITH THE PROBLEMS AT WALTER REED
During a hearing Tuesday concerning the legislative proposals of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, U.S. Senator Larry Craig praised VFW members for their contributions in combat abroad and their leadership since returning home.
"You and your predecessors have been advocating for America's Veterans of Foreign Wars for over a century," said Craig. "I'm sure we can all agree that our servicemen and women fighting overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan - tomorrow's Veterans of Foreign Wars - deserve our Committees' utmost attention."
The top Republican on the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs also noted that the VFW and other veteran's organizations have been successful in helping VA's healthcare system become better than ever.
"Is the VA health care system perfect? No, but everywhere I go, I see veterans wanting into the VA healthcare system, not out." Craig said. "The deplorable living conditions within building 18 of Walter Reed Hospital - which is under the direction of the Department of Defense and not the Department of Veterans Affairs - has painted the wrong picture of the overall great care and service veterans are receiving from VA."
Within the past year and a half stories published in a variety of national magazines, including Fortune, U.S. News and World Report, Business Week, and Time, have discussed how VA's health care system has greatly improved. A recent news release by the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) organization noted that VA consistently sets the benchmark for patient satisfaction, and reviews by the National Institute of Medicine and Harvard Medical School have praised VA's healthcare system.
To ensure that the quality is maintained and improved, the Bush administration recently recommended boosting VA's healthcare budget to approximately $37 billion for next year. Overall spending on veterans will increase nearly 8 percent, while other federal spending - excluding defense and homeland security - will increase just 1.3 percent.
"Once again, the President's request shows that in these challenging fiscal times, he has chosen to make veterans a top budget priority," Craig said. "Within a 36 billion dollar budget for health care, we have the money to provide the much earned and deserved top health care services to our troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and to our service connected disabled veterans."