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Opening Statement of Hon. Doug Lamborn, a Representative in Congress from the State of Colorado

Good Morning, Mr. Chairman I thank you for holding this hearing and I thank our colleagues from the Senate for joining us this morning.

I want to welcome Commander Kurpius and thank you for your service to our nation and for you testimony this morning.  

I would also like to welcome my fellow Coloradans who have joined us here today including: Department of Colorado Commander Earl J. Havens from Colorado Springs, Adjunct and Quartermaster Richard Wellenseik, Chairman of the Colorado Legislative Committee Wayne Thompson from Littleton, and Chairman of the Federal Legislative Committee Warren Tellogren.

 These gentlemen, along with 14 others here are representing all Coloradans well indeed!

As many of you know I am a new member of this Committee and I have enjoyed learning about the Veterans of Foreign Wars.  VFW members, for example, donate more than 13 million hours in community service to their local communities every year. 

They have provided $3.4 million in scholarships to students in need and support important groups such as the Boy Scouts of America, and Junior ROTC programs in citizenship training. 

The VFW has also been an advocate and leader in flag education.  They provide advice and regulations on displaying, storing, and disposing of America’s sacred symbol.

VFW members are true examples of citizens taking an active role in their communities.

Finding ways to help their fellow comrades is a central mission for the VFW.  Operation Uplink, is a national VFW program and has been instrumental in helping soldiers serving around the world keep in touch with loved ones.  This program has provided 7,000 pre-paid phone cards representing 105,000,000 hours of talk time to our nation’s heroic servicemembers.

Another program is the Military Assistance Program which provides grants to local VFW posts for events such as “welcome home and farewell activities.”

These and other programs show VFW is committed not only to our nation’s current veterans but to our future veterans as well.

In reading your testimony Commander, you placed importance on the Compensation and Claims backlog.  As Ranking Member on the Disability and Memorial Affairs Subcommittee I could not agree with you more when you describe the over 600,000 claim backlog as “unacceptable.”  Every one of these claims is not just a number but an American veteran and his or her family awaiting a decision.

We have to recognize that the amount of claims filed is only going to go up as baby boomer veterans apply for pensions and veterans of OIF/OEF file their own disability claims.

There is no reason why veterans should have to wait a year for their claim and then find that they were given an inaccurate rating. As you stated in your testimony this only exacerbates the problem.  We can’t ask VA to speed up the process without ensuring that these claims are being adjudicated correctly. Every veteran deserves to have his or her claim adjudicated accurately and in a timely manner!

I thank you Commander for your service to our nation and I look forward to learning the legislative priorities of your membership.  Thank you Mr. Chairman, and I yield back.