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

I want to thank the Chairman for holding this hearing to allow the VFW to present its legislative agenda.

I want to begin with acknowledging the attendance of those from Florida who have made the trip from the state with one of the largest veteran populations.

Larry Stover, State Commander -Lakeland   
Jack McDermott, Sr. Vice Commander -Palm Beach Gardens 
David Harris, Jr. Vice Commander -Sefner 
Benny Bachand, Adjutant/Quartermaster -Ocala 
Stephen Surface, Surgeon -Largo 
William R. Kirsop, Judge Advocate -Summerfield 
J. Douglas Morris, Chaplain - Miami 
Sidney R. Holm, Chief of Staff -Rotunda West  
Gene Leshore, Member, National Council of Administration -St. Petersburg 

Past State Commanders:
Harvey Eckoff -Mary Esther 
William J. "Joe" Gault -Ocala 
A. E. "Gene" Hall -Orange Park 
John Hamilton -Jacksonville 
Patrick J. Love -North Port 
Bob Shepherd -Citrus Springs 
Michael J. White -Deland 

Lee F. Kichen, Legislative Chairman -Sarasota 

Members:

Bill Bloomquist -Valparaiso 
John Crane -Gulf Breeze 
Mitch McPherson -Middleburg  
John Nelson -Monticello   
Bill Russell  -Port Charlotte 
Lawrence Schatz -Miami 

It is important that we hear from the leaders of the Veteran Service Organizations when they are in town.  To cancel these hearings then complain the National Commanders do not meet with the Committee leadership is counterproductive.

The Independent Budget is the blueprint which the Veterans Affairs budget should be based, not the other way around.

Every year Amvets, Disabled American Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America and the Veterans of Foreign Wars get together to write the bible of the Veterans budget. 

Every year we do not provide enough funding and it seems as though veterans are left out of the equation. 

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.''

The travesty at Walter Reed exemplifies the thought process that those not directly involved in the fighting are not necessary to the cause.

I agree wholeheartedly with your written testimony and look forward to hearing your thoughts today.