(Washington, D.C.) – On February 3, 2011 the Senate voted to establish U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) as Chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee. Chairman Murray released the following statement after the announcement. Senator Murray, who has been a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee since 1995, is a widely recognized and outspoken advocate for America’s veterans. She has been honored for her work for veterans by the Vietnam Veterans of America, American Ex-POWs, the VFW, the Paralyzed Veterans of America and the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs. Among other things, Senator Murray has fought to give veterans access to quality care and benefits, has pushed Republican and Democratic administrations to provide the VA with responsible budgets, and has worked to ensure the VA is preparing for the influx of new veterans. Senator Murray has also worked to expand access to care for Washington state veterans by saving three state VA facilities from closure and by pressuring the VA to open community based health care clinics.
“This is a great honor, but an even bigger responsibility. As Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I have a tremendous duty to the 22 million veterans across the country who have stepped up to serve our nation and who deserve the highest quality care, benefits, and treatment in return.
“I am humbled by this Chairmanship not only because of the great veterans I’ll serve, but also because of the man whose shoes I’ll be working to fill. Senator Akaka has been, and always will be, a champion for his fellow veterans. I know that in the coming years he will continue to be a leader on this Committee, someone who I will rely on heavily, and someone who’ll never stop fighting for the veterans of his home state and our nation.
“I plan to work each day to ensure that the VA is working for our veterans, not against them. Our service members should never have to come home from fighting a war only to fight to get the benefits and care that they deserve.
“I know the VA has some of the most dedicated employees in the world and provides tremendous services to many of our veterans. But I also know there are a great many challenges to be met. Today, too many veterans are waiting far too long to get the benefits they’ve earned. Too many veterans are struggling to get access to mental health care, worker training, and other resources to help them transition from the battlefield to the civilian world. And still, far too many veterans are sleeping on the streets after serving their country. These are among the many issues I plan to take an active and aggressive approach to helping find solutions for.
“It has been one of the great privileges of my Senate career to fight for veterans like my father - a World War II veteran, or the Vietnam veterans I met interning at the VA in college, or the countless Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who I have spoken to about returning home with the visible and invisible wounds of war.
“These men and women, and all American veterans, will always be who I fight for, who I listen to first, and who I answer to. Their needs, their struggles, and their stories will be the ones I bring to the VA to help deliver change and meet the many challenges we face.”
February 4, 2011