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Before the United States Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs Regarding 2006 Legislative Priorities
March 30, 2006

VVA addressed the committee of the Senate for Veterans Affairs regarding the funding priorities and issues of significance for veterans and their families. VVA communicated emphatically the need for more funding and postulated the FY’07 health care budget to be short $4.2 billion, which would include the cost of treating those Priority 8 Veterans who were “temporarily” restricted from enrolling in the VA health care system in January 2003. VVA strongly suggests that Congress form a bipartisan group that would be in charge of changing the way veterans’ health care is funded to ensure adequate funding for veterans. VVA also brought attention to the continuing backlog in the adjudication of claims at the Veterans Benefits Administration.

According to VVA the VA must also expand their outreach so that veterans are aware of the benefits they are entitled to. Since not all Veterans live close to VA hospitals it should be mandatory that the VA provide care via a fee-basis provider of choice for service-disabled veterans. The Veterans Health Administration must become a true veterans hospital by focusing on needs of veterans who are inflicted with ailments as a result of their military service. Additionally, VVA emphasized the importance of the VA funding research and Congress should also provide funds for study by reputable scientists into the long-term health effects of dioxin, the culprit element in Agent Orange. Other topics VVA determined essential to target are: the relationship between lung cancer and Veterans, the exploration of Project 112/SHAD, employment, training, and business opportunities for veterans, homeless veterans, compensation and pension, the new generation of veterans, as well as POW/MIA.

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