(Washington, D.C.) – "The
cost of caring for veterans and their families is part of the continuing
cost of the national defense," said John
Rowan, National President of Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), before a House
on Military Quality of Life and Veterans Affairs today.
"Despite the increases in recent years, the FY 07 budget is short by at least
$4.2 billion. Even if the VA continues to deny health care to hundreds of
thousands of veterans, the health care budget is still short by some $2.3
billion. We thank the House Veterans
Affairs Committee," Rowan added, "for adding $1.9 billion to the VA’s
proposed budget to cover compensation and pension enhancement."
Citing GAO reports that the VA’s
health care budget formulation is flawed, Rowan proposed that Congress
"form a bipartisan
investigative group. A fair funding formula can be arrived at,"
Rowan said. "One
that won’t bust the budget, one that
stresses accountability, yet one that recognizes our nation’s
obligations to veterans."
Rowan added that VVA is vehemently opposed to the rate hikes for Tri-care
proposed by the administration. These hikes would drive many more retired
disabled veterans into an overburdened VA healthcare system.
Rowan also called for the elimination of the "widow’s tax"
whereby military survivors benefits are deducted from VA DIC payments.
"The VA has an obligation," Rowan said, "to
reach out to all veterans and their families –
not just those who seek care and compensation from the VA – to ensure that they know
what benefits they have earned in serving our nation and how to access those
The full text of Mr. Rowan’s
testimony can be found at