Mr. Carl DiGrazia, Department Service Officer, Veterans of Foreign Wars
---- STATEMENT OF
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CARL DI GRAZIA, DIRECTOR
VETERANS OF FOREIGN WARS OF THE UNITED STATES
DEPARTMENT OF ILLINOIS
CHAIRMAN OF THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON VETERANS AFFAIRS
July 6, 2005
TO: Mr. Chairman, The Honorable Senator Barack Obama
The Veterans of Foreign Wars would like to thank the Committee OnVeterans Affairs for
allowing to express our concerns of the Preparedness of VA Health Care for the men who
are returning from Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. A large percentage
of our returning military are members of the Military Reserve and the National Gu.ard.
The Department of Veterans Affairs hAvestated the VA Medical Centers are prepared to
meet the needs oithe returning troops. This service organi7~tionknows that many of the
returnees have already registered with the VA Health Care System. Some of these
veterans have been refused and do not understand why. 'Priority 8' veterans need to be
The fiscal 05 health care budget fell one billion dollars short of the cost of caring for the
health of our veterans. The Senate unanimously voted for an amendment to add
additional 1.5 billion to this years budget to meet the health care needs of our veterans
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from World War II to those now coming home from Iraq. There is already an
amendment request for additional funds for the FY06 budget.
The Reserve Component of the military on active duty in support of the partial
mobilization for the Army National Guard and Army Reserve is 124,552; Naval Reserve
is 3,323; Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve is 9,691; Marine Corps Reserve is
9,469 and the Coast Guard Reserve is 576. The total of National Guard and Reserve
units is 147,611.
That is 147,611 potential new VA Health Care recipients and compensation recipients.
Reflecting back to 1990/91 on the veterans who fought in the Gulf War many of whom
returned with a mysterious illness. Between 26 and 32 percent of the veterans who
served in the Persian Gulf continue to have serious and persistent health problems. It is
called undiagnosed illness. Now we have a new group of veterans coming home from a
new war in the Middle East. Time will only tell us if they will have this same fate.
Serious persistent health problems with no name.
HR 1220 The Veterans Compensation Cost of Living Adjustment Act was passed and we
support this action.
We particularly support the authorization of a two year demonstration project to collect
third party payments from insurance companies. We wholeheartedly support going after
the insurance companies that renege on their payments to the government, overcharge us
on our premiums and get wealthy at the expense of the disabled veteran.
Mr. Senator, the group of Americans we cannot be lukewarm about supporting are those
Americans who have given up their youth, their health, their limbs and a portion of their
minds for our freedom.
The Veterans of Foreign Waxs strongly supports Mandatory Funding for VA Health Care
by our elected representatives from Illinois. H.R. 515 and S. 331.