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

Thank you Mr. Chairman for recognizing me. I thank you for holding this hearing on the Challenges Facing Minority and Women Veterans.

I welcome our witnesses, and thank you all for your contributions to the veterans’ affairs system.

America’s minorities and the women of our great nation are integral to the quality of our national security.  Women make up nearly ten percent of our nation’s 24 million living veterans.  Women on active duty represent more than 15 percent of our armed forces.

According to a 2005 Heritage Foundation study, about 25 percent of military recruits identify themselves as other than Caucasian; further, military women are more likely to identify themselves as members of a racial or ethnic group than men. 

Our military has a higher percentage of some minorities – such as African Americans, American Indians, Native Alaskans and Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders – than the percentage of these minorities in the general population.  These men and women are patriots.

In more than two centuries of service to country, women and minority servicemembers have formed a glorious legacy.  That legacy has only been enriched by the intrepid and resolute accomplishments of their descendents in the global war on terror.

Our challenge is to ensure that women and minority veterans – indeed all veterans – receive equal treatment for their qualifying service to our nation. 

The VA centers for women and minority veterans and the department’s associated advisory committees are charged with increasing awareness of VA programs, identifying barriers and inadequacies in VA programs, and influencing improvement. 

We do not look to these VA programs to merely identify and report.  We want them to influence policy and accept a measure of accountability for departmental results.

In that regard, I will of course be very interested in hearing today about the challenges facing women and minority veterans, such as gender-specific health care. 

I want to learn about disabilities more likely to affect minority veterans.  I want to hear about the challenges facing veterans who wish to take advantage of economic opportunities in the public and private sectors. 

I will also, however, especially want to learn today how VA and its component organizations are effectively rising to meet those challenges. 

Mr. Chairman, I yield back.