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Opening Statement of Honorable Raul Ruiz

Thank you Mr. Chairman for holding today’s hearing on mental health care services for our veterans.  Oversight of VA’s mental health programs has long been a focus of this Committee.  And while much has been accomplished, we still have a long way to go in providing our veterans with quality, efficient mental healthcare.
I am always discouraged when I hear stories of struggling veterans facing delay and denial of much needed care here at home when they sacrificed so much abroad.  Our healthcare system is not only dated, but also strained to capacity.  We need to begin modernizing and streamlining the process so veterans who need care can get care quickly.
In this spirit, I am encouraged by a recent announcement last April of the addition of 1,600 mental health clinicians and 300 support staff to the VA’s existing workforce. While this is a start, the VA needs to continue to focus on the many other cracks in the system including its inaccurate reporting of timely patient care.
These issues are extremely important to veterans in my district considering the location of VA’s Palm Desert clinic which provides primary care services for veterans in the Coachella Valley, including mental healthcare services.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I yield back my time.