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Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care Personnel Enhancement Act of 2004

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. SIMMONS. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the Senate bill (S. 2484) to amend title 38, United States Code, to simplify and improve pay provisions for physicians and dentists and to authorize alternate work schedules and executive pay for nurses, and for other purposes.


Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me this time.

Mr. Speaker, after 22 years on the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, Pat Ryan, our chief counsel and staff director, is retiring from government service. I want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to his extraordinary career and his many, many accomplishments.

For over 2 decades, Pat Ryan has made tremendous contributions to many of the most important new veterans laws that have been approved by Congress. He worked on numerous bills to expand services for aging veterans and those in need of long-term health care.

He was instrumental in helping to establish domiciliaries for homeless veterans and was the principal drafter of legislation to authorize VA's transitional housing guarantee program to benefit homeless veterans. Pat played an essential role in helping to establish the Department of Veterans Affairs and in creating the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

Pat has been deeply involved in numerous successful committee initiatives that expanded and strengthened programs to assist surviving spouses and children of servicemembers killed in action or who later died of service-related causes. Over the past 20 years, Pat has helped to increase the Montgomery GI Bill benefit for qualified veterans from $300 per month when he joined the committee to over $1,000 per month today.

Using his budget expertise gained from 10 years working for the VA early in his career, Pat has been an extraordinarily valuable person in helping the Congress to ensure that the VA's budget has been both appropriate and responsive and that all funds are well spent. His extensive knowledge of the law and the inner workings of the VA greatly aided our committee in its work to create exemplary oversight of veterans programs.

From managing the committee's professional staff, to drafting legislation, to overseeing VA's programs and services, Patrick Ryan is the consummate professional. I consider him to be a great friend and a great partner in all that this committee has accomplished during our time together, and it has been an honor to work side by side with him.

On a personal level, Pat Ryan has lived his life in a way that has truly made a difference and has walked to the beat of our Lord's drummer when He said whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do likewise to me. For Pat, that means always looking out for the little guy. I have such respect and admiration for that character trait, and it is very strong in Patrick Ryan. What motivates him more than anything else, and it is first and foremost in his life, is his love for his wife, Kathy, and their three children: Kerry, Dan, and Julia. For Pat Ryan, family always comes first.

Pat is ever proud of his father who has passed, William Everest Ryan, who was a proud Marine and who saw combat during World War II in the South Pacific where he was wounded and won the Purple Heart award. He later joined the Justice Department while continuing in the Marine reserves as an officer in the JAG, retiring with the rank of colonel in 1964. Pat Ryan has spent his entire career in Congress, defending the same values his father defended on the battlefield and in the courtroom.

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of his colleagues in the House and members of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs who know and admire him so much, and other Members who have known and worked with him, and on behalf of millions of veterans who have benefited from his work, but have never known his name, I want to thank Pat Ryan for a distinguished career of faithful public service. It has been an honor to work with him.


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