VVA Testimony VVA Testimony
VVA Testimony


IMMEDIATE RELEASE





Press Release

February 16, 2006

 

No. 06-001


Contact:
Mokie Porter

(301) 585-4000 Ext. 146
(301) 996-0901

 

VVA Cites Another Budget Shortfall,
Burden of Serious Health Care Problems in Vietnam Vets
 

See VVA Testimony


(Washington, D.C.) – “The bad news is that the good news is wrong,” said John Rowan, National President of Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), in testimony before the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs this morning.

“The administration heralds the FY’07 VA budget request as a boon for veterans.  We believe that despite the decent increases in recent years, the budget is short by at least $4.2 billion, which would open enrollment into the VA’s health care system to all eligible veterans.  Even if the VA continues its exclusionary policy that has denied health care to hundreds of thousands of veterans, the budget for health care is still short by some $2.3 billion.  We have no doubt,” Rowan added, “the VA will find that the funds appropriated for the current fiscal year will not carry through till October.”

Citing two recent Government Accountability Office reports affirming that the VA’s health care budget formulation is flawed, Rowan challenged Congress to “form a bipartisan group to meet, study the issues and options, hold hearings, and recommend legislation that would fundamentally change the way in which veterans health care is funded.  A fair funding formula can be arrived at,” Rowan said, “one that won’t bust the budget, yet one that recognizes our nation’s obligations to veterans and is indexed to medical inflation and the per capita use of the VA health care system.  There’s no reason why serious minds can’t come up with a solution before the next budget cycle.”

Rowan noted that the continuing and increasing burden on the health-care system is not just caused by the influx of veterans fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, but “because Vietnam veterans are getting sicker at an earlier age with diseases and maladies that can be traced back to our service in Southeast Asia.  These service-connected illnesses will pose serious long-term fiscal problems for the VA that must be addressed.”

Rowan added that the VA “has an obligation to reach out to all veterans – not just those who seek care and compensation from the VA – to ensure to the maximum extent possible that they know what benefits they have earned for having served our nation, and how to access these benefits.”

The full text of Mr. Rowan’s testimony for the record can be found at www.vva.org

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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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