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IMMEDIATE RELEASE





Press Release

May 9, 2006

No. 06-005



Contact:
Bernie Edelman

(301) 585-4000 Ext. 118

 

VVA Praises Congress for ‘Substantial Move’
On Budget to Meet Needs of Veterans


(Washington, D.C.) – “Although veterans’ programs will get fewer dollars than VVA believes are actually needed, the VA health care system will be funded by more than we expected” when the House and Senate meet to iron out differences in spending levels for the FY’07 Military Quality of Life and Veterans’ Affairs appropriations bill, said John Rowan, National President of Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA). 

“While this really is not the ‘historic level of funding’ touted by some,” Rowan said, “it does represent a substantial move in the right direction, and VVA is grateful to Chairman Walsh and Ranking Member Edwards for their strong assistance within the constraints of the full committee’s allocation to their subcommittee.  Instead of relying solely on VA projections, Congress looked to input from the veterans’ service organizations, in particular the Independent Budget, whose estimates are more in line with ours,” Rowan said. 

“Still, we will be more pleased if Congress specifically directs the VA to spend a small amount of the Research & Development funds to conduct the National Vietnam Veterans Longitudinal Study,” Rowan said.  “The refusal of the VA to meet the mandate of Public Law 106-419 and fund this study dashes the last, best hope we have to really understand the health impacts of service in Southeast Asia.  

“This is more than unfortunate,” Rowan said. “Apparently, only Congress, through the Appropriations process, can make the VA obey the law. The VA will not do the honorable or legal and decent thing on their own.” 

 “The refusal of the VA to contract with a reputable outside institution to conduct this study shows a desire to not find out the truth of what happened to Vietnam veterans that would be of immeasurable value to those of us who served in Vietnam, and also to those young people serving in Iraq and Afghanistan today. This is yet another slap in the face of those of us whose lives were irrevocably changed in the rice paddies and jungles of Vietnam, and those who are risking their lives under fire in the desert sands today.”

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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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