AKAKA HOLDS HEARING TO REVIEW VETERANS' BENEFITS LEGISLATION
Chairman Committed to Improving Veterans' Benefits While Finding Necessary Cost Offsets
WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, held a hearing today to review veterans' benefits legislation now pending before the Committee. Legislation under consideration included bills specific to veterans returning from our current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as broad legislation to benefit veterans of previous wars as well. Chairman Akaka noted that much of the legislation on the agenda addressed the needs of veterans with service-connected disabilities.
"Many of these bills focus on the needs of the highest priority veterans - those with service-connected disabilities. Recognition of the special needs of these veterans is a necessary measure of gratitude afforded to those veterans whose lives were irrevocably altered by their service to this country," Akaka said.
Akaka also highlighted his personal commitment to finding the most fiscally responsible methods of improving benefits for veterans. "The biggest hurdle for implementation of these bills into law is cost," Akaka said. "I am working to find appropriate offsets within the Committee's jurisdiction."
Witnesses at today's hearing included Daniel L. Cooper, VA's Under Secretary for Benefits, as well as representative from various veterans service organizations, including: Meredith Beck, National Policy Director, The Wounded Warrior Project; Carl Blake, National Legislative Director, Paralyzed Veterans of America; Kimo Hollingsworth, National Legislative Director, AMVETS; Eric Hilleman, Deputy Director, National Legislative Service, Veterans of Foreign Wars; Brian Lawrence, Assistant National Legislative Director, Disabled American Veterans; Colonel Robert F. Norton, USA (Ret.), Deputy Director, Government Relations, Military Officers Association of America; and Alec Petkoff, Assistant Director, Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Commission, The American Legion.
Chairman Akaka's full opening statement can be found at:
An mp3 audio file of the statement can be found at:
More information on the hearing, including witnesses' statements, can be found on the committee's website: