STATEMENT OF SENATOR RICHARD BURR
March 9, 2010
Good morning, Chairman Akaka, Chairman Filner, and Ranking Member Buyer. Thank you all for convening this joint hearing to listen to the legislative priorities of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States.
Commander Tradewell, welcome. And welcome to those accompanying you at the witness table. Thank you for the work you all do on behalf of veterans from my home state of North Carolina and across the country. I want to extend a special welcome to the North Carolinians who have made the trip today.
Hearing from the VFW gives us the opportunity to gain the perspective of a distinctive group of men and women. Your members have all been on foreign soil and many have seen combat. Many of them experienced the burden of being apart from family and friends for extended periods of time and under the most difficult of circumstances.
VFW members are uniquely positioned to let us know what benefits and services are working well for them, and, more importantly, what improvements need to be made. This insight, together with feedback from our constituents at home, helps guide our efforts to improve the lives of veterans and their families across the country.
Commander, let me first comment on one issue that you raise in your testimony on the VA claims processing system. As we all know, this system takes far too long and frustrates many veterans -- including veterans from North Carolina.
As you mentioned, with the increasing number of claims it is important for timely and accurate decisions which will reduce the growing backlog. I hope we can all work together to find common-sense solutions that will make this system work better for veterans and their families, both now and in the future.
In your testimony, you discussed provisions of S.1963 which will provide more support for female veterans and family caregivers. I was pleased to join the Chairman in sponsoring the provisions of this bill.
Women play a vital role in our Armed Force. VA needs to be able to provide for their specific needs, especially with the growing number of women veterans accessing VA health care.
Family caregivers provide critical support for seriously injured servicemembers. S. 1963 would provide training, monthly stipends, health care, and other support for family caregivers. This is a step in the right direction to better the lives of those who have sacrificed so much, and I am confident it will soon become law.
VA has taken significant steps to improve its Mental Health programs as well as reduce suicides among our Nation’s veterans. Last week, we had a hearing on this very topic. The committee heard from an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran and the struggles he faced once returning from deployment. His testimony shows we still have areas where we need to improve.
Finally, I agree with VFW that we need to end homelessness. I’m encouraged about the progress that has been made, especially with the emphasis on prevention. In my view we should stop the cycle of homelessness by ensuring it never begins in the first place.
Commander, as we collectively work on these and other important issues affecting our nation’s veterans, we should keep in mind that just funding programs is not enough. We must make sure that these benefits and services are meeting the needs of our nation’s veterans and their families and that they are actually improving their lives. I am committed to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to do just that.
Thank you again, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.
Table of Contents