WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI), Chairman of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, chaired a joint hearing yesterday with Representative Bob Filner (D-CA), Chairman of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, on the legislative priorities of the following veterans and military organizations: AMVETS, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Gold Star Wives of America, Fleet Reserve Association, The Retired Enlisted Officers Association, Military Officers Association of America, and the National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs. Most of the witnesses explicitly noted their support for a veterans' program budget for the coming fiscal year above and beyond the Administration's proposal.
Chairman Akaka, who continues to work for a budget that recognizes veterans' care and benefits as a cost of war, stated, "These organizations play an important role in ensuring that this nation honors the sacrifices made by our servicemen and women. I will continue to advocate for those who, in the immortal word of Abraham Lincoln, ‘have borne the battle, and their widows, and orphans.'"
While the witnesses testified on matters of interest to each of their organizations, a strongly unifying theme was the need for a stronger VA budget. AMVETS National Commander John Brown highlighted the need for sufficient prosthesis research and construction funding. The Retired Enlisted Association's National President, Patrick Corbett, commended the House and Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Majority Members' rejection of the President's proposal to increase copay fees on veterans seeking healthcare in the Majority Members' Views & Estimates letter to the Budget Committee. Rene Campos of the Military Officers Association of America also applauded the Majority Views & Estimates, while Joseph Barnes, Executive Director of the Fleet Reserve Association, along with Military Order of the Purple Heart National Commander Henry Cook, highlighted their support of the Independent Budget.
Additionally, the Gold Star Wives of America expressed support for S. 2617, the Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2008. S. 2617 was introduced by Chairman Akaka, and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.
The full witness list can be viewed here: ?action=release.display&release_id=b400f806-d8a5-4651-a9be-c076123a0f7b&view=all
The Chairman's opening statement can be viewed here: ?action=release.display&release_id=b400f806-d8a5-4651-a9be-c076123a0f7b&sub_release_id=16867d79-1da5-4fdd-85a9-125c53722391&view=all