Press Release

Contact: Mokie Pratt Porter, Communications Director 202-628-2700 Ext. 146

VIETNAM VETERANS OF AMERICA CELEBRATES 20 YEARS OF SERVICE,
PRESENTS AGENDA ON CAPITOL HILL

WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 25, 1998)

Vietnam Veterans of America national president George C. Duggings presented VVA's 1998 government relations agenda before a joint session of the House and Senate Veterans' Affairs Committees today. Prefacing his remarks by noting VVA's impressive record of tenacity and effectiveness in its 20 years of advocacy, Duggins expressed VVA's alarm regarding President Clinton's proposed budget for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The President's budget proposes flatline funding for VA at the same time it proposes substantial increases in other agencies. Said Duggins, "The myriad of reforms underway in both health care and benefits processing make this an absolutely inappropriate time to make cuts to VA spending. The proposed $18.9 billion for total discretionary program funding represents a cut of $32 million below the FY 1998 level, eroding VA medical care funding particularly. The $17 billion recommended for medical care amounts to a $40 million cut in actual spending, because the administration assumes that $677 million will be collected for insurance, copayments, and medical fees."

Duggins also noted the organization's distress at the President's proposal to eliminate VA compensation benefits for veterans with smoking-related illnesses. Congress seems intent on diverting the funds to transportation projects. Said Duggins, "The military did much more than tolerate smoking among its ranks--it irrefutably encouraged and subsidized smoking. It is for these reasons that VVA is absolutely opposed to the administration's proposal to eliminate veterans benefits for tobacco-related illnesses. VVA is strongly opposed to any attempts by Congress to build these new pork-barrel transportation projects on the backs of disabled veterans."

Duggins introduced to the House and Senate Veterans' Affairs Committees Paul Sullivan, the executive director of the National Gulf War Resource Center, noting that VVA is very proud ofits tradition of assisting all generations of veterans. Said Duggins, "In the spirit of our founding principle, 'Neverr again will one generation of veterans abandon another,' VVA has established a working relationship with our colleague organization." Through a grant from VVA, the National Gulf War Resource Center is able to have a national presence in our nation's capital to advocate their concerns.

For the full record of VVA's 1998 Legislative priorities, visit VVA's web site at http://www.vvv.org

Vietnam Veterans of America is the nation's only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated solely to the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families. VVA's founding principle is "Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another."



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