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Public Statements

Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. OWENS. Mr. Speaker, I have a motion to recommit at the desk.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is the gentleman opposed to the bill?

Mr. OWENS. I am opposed.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Clerk will report the motion to recommit.

The Clerk read as follows:

Mr. Owens moves to recommit the bill H.R. 2055 to the Committee on Appropriations with instructions to report the same back to the House forthwith with the following amendment:

Page 30, line 17, insert before the period at the end the following: ``Provided further, That, in addition to the funds made available by Public Law 112-10 for `Department of Veterans Affairs, Medical Services' for fiscal year 2012, an additional $20,000,000 is appropriated for such account for advertising of assistance and services for the prevention of suicide among veterans (as authorized by section 532 of title 38, United States Code) for such fiscal year''.

Page 35, line 4, after the dollar amount, insert ``(reduced by $25,000,000)''.

Mr. CULBERSON. Mr. Speaker, I reserve a point of order against the gentleman's motion.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. A point of order is reserved.

The gentleman from New York is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. OWENS. Mr. Speaker, I rise to offer this final amendment for the benefit of those men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as for veterans of all wars in need of care.

There's been much debate in the House today about hard choices. Our veterans made hard choices, made difficult decisions, and many of them suffer because of that.

[Page: H4105]

This amendment is fiscally responsible as it is fully paid for and, most importantly, it takes care of veterans. We are asking that approximately $20 million be appropriated for such account to assist in the prevention of suicide among veterans.

I know as a young man--actually, as a young boy--I had uncles from World War I, friends of my father's from World War II who suffered from PTSD. It wasn't known by that term then, but clearly they did.

When you go to Walter Reed, when you go to Fort Drum and you look into the eyes of the young men and women returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, you can see the pain. This is what we are called to deal with today.

America's troops have served with honor and distinction, accomplishing tremendous progress in Iraq and Afghanistan. While we have gone to great lengths ensuring that they have what they need to accomplish the mission, it is the will and determination of the average servicemember that is winning the fight for our country.

The current wars have demanded much of soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines overseas who carry out their mission under constant threat from enemy fire, IEDs, and other dangers, all the while away from their family and friends back home. In short, the men and women of the Armed Forces are winning this fight through their incredible personal sacrifice.

As we all know, this sacrifice often includes great cost to the physical well-being of returning veterans, as well as mental health concerns from PTSD and traumatic brain injury. It is our duty, out of respect for their sacrifice, to ensure that every benefit they have earned is available to all returning servicemembers. We can and must do more to care for them. This includes increased services to address PTSD and TBI, as well as adequate mental health services to prevent the tragedy of suicide among returning combat veterans.

As the Representative for Fort Drum, the most deployed unit in the United States Army, I am especially committed to seeing that members of the Armed Forces are afforded everything they need when they return home to their families and our communities. This amendment provides an additional $20 million for veteran medical services to give the Veterans Administration the resources it needs to provide these essential services.

My amendment is fully offset and fulfills America's commitment to the heroes that have sacrificed so much to defend America. I urge a ``yes'' vote on this final amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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