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Opening Statement of Hon. Corrine Brown, a Representative in Congress from the State of Florida

I want to thank the groups coming today to share their legislative priorities at the beginning of the session, so we can work on them all year and GET THINGS DONE!

I am pleased of all the Floridians who have made the trek to Washington, bringing all this beautiful weather with them.

From the Blinded Veterans Association: DR. GEORGE STOCKING

From the Jewish War Veterans: Eugene Moore, National Public Affairs Officer, Jack Berman, Past National Commander, Charles Feuereisen, Past National Commander, Daniel Neal Heller, Past National Commander, David Magidson, Past National Commander, Jerry Abrams, Department Commander, Jordan Crosby, William Kling, John Nemon, Ralph Shear

From the Paralyzed Veterans of America: Coloyer Brown, Nemeslo “Chic” Gonzalez, Donald Thomas, G. Bennett Ritter

I have to tell you, when I first heard of the problems at Walter Reed, I thought “Well, there is no way what he was describing could be happening at one of our military facilities.”

Unfortunately it could and it is.

I did not vote for this war.  The military is doing the job they were sent to do.  There was a flaw in the mission from the beginning.  And the flaw lies with us.

American Soldiers have performed admirably under very trying conditions.  Conditions they were not trained for and conditions they should not be in.

Our soldiers deserve better when they get back.

We can send 484 tons of money, $12 billion, to Iraq for who knows what, but when it comes to the well-being of these soldiers, there is no money.  According to the VA it will cost $1.7 billion to include all veterans in the VA healthcare system.

What is the priority of President Bush?

The Bush Administration has provided all the justifications, all the sanctimony, frightening the American people into supporting a $600 billion war in Iraq.

We have a $3 trillion budget.  We are sending nearly $1 trillion to a country of 28 million people. 

We are building an embassy in Bagdad of 104 acres.  This is six times larger than the United Nations compound in New York and two-thirds the acreage of Washington’s National Mall.    The embassy complex — 21 buildings on 104 acres, is the size of Vatican City and will be the largest in the world.  It will employ over 5500 people. The embassy will cost over 1 billion, ONE BILLION, dollars.

This is the priority of President Bush.

I am reminded of the words of the first President of the United States, George Washington, whose words are worth repeating at this time:

"The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional as to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their country."

Thank you for your service.