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Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. BARROW. Mr. Speaker, I rise to offer one final amendment to the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies appropriations bill.

Three days ago on Memorial Day, I held town hall meetings at the American Legion posts in Augusta and Statesboro, Georgia. During these town hall meetings, veterans repeatedly expressed two of their most pressing concerns for our country.

First, they're concerned that our increasing debt puts America on a path toward a fiscal crisis that threatens our national defense and the promises we've made to veterans and seniors.

Second, they're concerned that the men and women returning home today, after fighting for our freedoms, are not receiving the proper medical care for the injuries they face, like traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, and loss of limb.

After my town hall meeting in Augusta, a Vietnam veteran came up to me and described how he had suffered from an undiagnosed case of PTSD until just a few years ago, and that his life had been a struggle for a long time as a result.

This gentleman's candor reminds us of what we already know. In too many cases, we fell short in providing Vietnam veterans the care and dignity they deserved after giving the best years of their lives to our service. We cannot make the same mistakes today we made then.

My amendment will do two things to try to be responsive to the veterans I represent. It takes $56 million of preexisting surplus money from the BRAC closure account and applies half, just $28 million, to veterans' medical and prosthetic research, and the other half to deficit reduction.

This figure doesn't come out of thin air. That's the unanimous recommendation of the VFW, the Paralyzed Veterans of American, the Disabled Veterans of America, and AMVETS--in their annual independent budget recommendations--as the additional amount necessary to provide for appropriate program growth and to cover anticipated inflation. This money will go directly to research and treatments unique to the 21st century combat our soldiers face overseas today.

Again, this is the final amendment to the bill. It will not kill the bill or send it back to committee. If adopted, the bill will immediately proceed to final passage as amended. For all these reasons, I encourage my colleagues to support this motion, and I yield back the balance of my time.


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