IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Release

August 16, 2002

No. 02-13

(301) 585-4000
Contact:
Mokie Porter

 

VETERANS CALL FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE OF
VITAL VA MEDICAL-CARE FUNDING


(Tucson, Arizona) – Vietnam veteran leaders from 38 states have called on President George W. Bush to release needed funds for veterans’ health care immediately. In a late-night meeting August 14, the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) Conference of State Presidents, representing 38 states (see list below), unanimously called on the President to reconsider his ill-advised decision not to fund the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare system properly. The President announced on Tuesday that he would neither declare an emergency situation nor use the funds contained in the Emergency Appropriations bill, which included $275 million in desperately needed funds for the nation’s crumbling veterans healthcare system.

Vietnam veterans support the President in time of war, but this move to diminish resources for the VA healthcare system further weakens the nation's preparedness to care for veterans wounded in previous conflicts," said Richard DeLong of Lafayette, Louisiana, president of the VVA Conference of State Council Presidents, and president of the VVA Louisiana State Council. "The VA hospitals cannot take care of the veterans seeking services now, much less provide proper treatment to the young men and women who are and will be casualties of the current war on terrorism.” 

DeLong also noted that the VA is in desperate need of the $275 million refused by the President, in addition to the minimum of $25.5 billion that is absolutely necessary to run the VA healthcare system for FY 2003, which begins on October 1. The congressional appropriation now being considered is $1.6 billion short of the minimum $25.5 billion needed to maintain the current system, long waiting lines and all.

“It is time for the American people to convince our elected leaders that a crucial part of Homeland Security is to maintain and strengthen the VA hospitals, which should provide the optimum services in the nation,”  DeLong said.

The states represented are: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Jersey, New York, Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and West Virginia.

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Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) is the nation's only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated 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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