(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman, Senator Patty Murray, released the following statement on the President's 2012 budget request for veterans programs. The President’s budget requests an increase of approximately $2.7 billion for VA health care over current year VA funding in a very difficult budget year.
"When we send servicemembers into harm’s way, it is our non-negotiable duty to take care of them when they come home. I know that the President understands that veterans’ health care cannot be jeopardized, that mental health concerns must be treated with the same seriousness as physical wounds, and that our benefits process needs to be improved. His overall request for increased funding for VA health care during an exceedingly difficult budget year appears to reflect that understanding.
“But I will want to hear directly from Secretary Shinseki and others at the VA about their specific plans to care for our veterans and make the VA into a 21st century agency capable of meeting the needs of all of our veterans. On first glance, it looks like the President’s request is a fair place to start, but the truth will be in the details.
"As we move forward I will be reviewing many of the specifics in this budget proposal, including how the VA can better use technology to address a benefits claims backlog that has gone on too long and must be a top priority for the Committee and the Congress.
“I will also pay close attention to a number of other concerns, including helping homeless veterans get off the streets, helping unemployed veterans find job training resources and meaningful careers, and ensuring that VA is addressing the growing needs of women veterans.
“Providing the best possible care and benefits to veterans is a cost of war, a cost that must be paid in full. As Chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I will continue to work diligently to ensure that veterans’ needs are met.”
February 14, 2011