Wednesday, March 08, 2006

VA Watchdog dot Org - VA NEWS FLASH - 03-08-06 #2

VA Watchdog dot Org:
Dear Mr. Speaker:

We believe that providing for our military veterans and their families is a continuing cost of war and an important component of our national defense. We simply have no excuse for not meeting their needs. For some, it easy to forget that budgets and numbers ultimately reflect our priorities and affect real people. Indeed, by failing to include any money for veterans’ health care and readjustment services in the $72.4 billion emergency war supplemental request, the Administration again has failed to acknowledge the added stress and resource demands the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are placing on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Accordingly, we respectfully request that you work with the Appropriations Committee to provide additional resources for the VA within the emergency war supplemental.

We believe that at least $630 million is urgently needed to care for troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the heroes from prior conflicts who rely upon the VA for their health care. Specifically, we are seeking $250 million to support increased demand for mental health services for returning troops; $200 million for direct medical services, including treating traumatic brain injury and other complex blast injuries, and additional resources for the VA’s Polytrauma Rehabilitation Centers; $110 million for increased demand for VA prosthetics; $15 million for medical and vocational rehabilitation services; and $55 million for increased staff to process the growing disability claims backlog of more than 370,000, including claims homeless disabled veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who are waiting months for decisions.

Mr. Speaker, last year, we saw the VA face disgraceful shortfalls in its health care budget, shortfalls that had a direct impact upon the care received by veterans. Ultimately, the Administration begrudgingly admitted these shortfalls and was forced to request additional resources. We are concerned that the Administration may have once again underestimated the total number of veterans that will seek services at the VA, including new veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Mr. Speaker, we strongly urge you to correct the Administration’s oversight and recognize that caring for our veterans is an ongoing cost of war.

Sincerely,

John Salazar

Lane Evans

Nancy Pelosi

Steny Hoyer

James Clyburn

John Larson

John Spratt

Ike Skelton

Stephanie Herseth

Ted Strickland

Shelley Berkley

Vic Snyder

Tom Udall

Luis Gutierrez

Bob Filner

Darlene Hooley

Silvestre Reyes

Corrine Brown

Mike Michaud

Zoe Lofgren

Carolyn McCarthy

Ed Case

Debbie Wasserman-Schultz

Lloyd Doggett

Robert Brady

Robert Wexler

Adam Smith

Mike Thompson

Mark Udall

Joe Crowley

Stephen Lynch

Joe Baca

Mike Doyle

Patrick Kennedy

Jim Davis

David Scott

Frank Pallone

Allyson Schwartz

Jim McGovern

Brian Higgins

Albert Wynn

Stephanie Tubbs Jones

Rush Holt

Tammy Baldwin

David Wu

Jan Schakowsky

Jim McDermott

Kendrick Mek

Tom Allen

Robert Scott

Susan Davis

Rahm Emanuel

Raul Grijalva

Ben Chandler

Donna Christian-Christensen

Eddie Bernice Johnson

Danny Davis

Diana DeGette

Al Green

Julia Carson

Grace Napolitano

Lois Capps

Hilda Solis

Dennis Kucinich

Ed Markey

William Jefferson

Peter DeFazio

Eleanor Holmes Norton

Rick Boucher

Paul Kanjorski

Henry Waxman

Bernard Sanders

Gary Ackerman

Barney Frank

Peter Visclosky

Rosa DeLauro

Jerry Costello

Alan Mollahan

Bart Gordon

Marion Berry

Doris Matsui

Gene Taylor

John Dingell

Nita Lowey

Lucille Roybal-Allard

Carolyn Maloney

Sherrod Brown

Alcee Hastings

Marcy Kaptur

Tom Lantos

Maurice Hinchey

Mike McIntyre

Robert Andrews

Solomon Ortiz

Madeline Bordallo

Barbara Lee

Ron Kind

Diane Watson

Charlie Gonzales

Tim Ryan

Martin Meehan

Chet Edwards

Ben Cardin

Earl Blumenauer

Jerrold Nadler

James Oberstar

Brian Baird

Sanford Bishop

Dan Lipinski

William Lacy Clay

Neil Abercrombie

Adam Schiff

Bart Stupak

Louise Slaughter

William Delahunt

Norm Dicks

Eliot Engel

Maxine Waters

Edolphus Towns

Rick Larsen

Xavier Becerra

David Price

Dale Kildee

Elijah Cummings

Mike Ross

Jim Langevin



cc: Honorable Jerry Lewis, Chairman, House Committee on Appropriations



Tom Manatos
Advisor to the Leader
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi
(202) 225-0100
tom.manatos@mail.house.gov

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