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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, and for holding this hearing.

We are here today to discuss how we can best care for the family members of our veterans.

The emotional demands that descend onto their loved ones are immense, and we have a sacred responsibility to help them bear that burden.

In reading the witnesses’ testimony I learned about a number of issues that are facing survivors and the failings of DoD and VA in this area.

I was especially troubled by the situation that the Heavrin family has described in their testimony. 

Their daughter, Hannah, lost her life in Iraq.  Because of the way her Servicemembers Group Life Insurance and indemnity compensation policies were written; her husband became the sole beneficiary.  However, a son she has from a previous relationship receives nothing. 

Even worse, her current husband apparently has done nothing to help support the child.

It is now up to the Heavrin family to raise their grandchild and find the money to do so.  I am not sure what course of action should be undertaken in this situation, but I suspect that something can be done to reduce the possibility that this happens to some other family.

I am also very interested in the concerns of the Gold Star Wives and the National Military Family Association. 

Sitting here with these deserving families about to speak to us, I must note that this session we have heard promises to provide billions of dollars to valiant Merchant Marine and Filipino veterans of World War II.  We have also noted dozens of other deserving veterans of that war, such as the Woman Airforce Service Pilots.

These families have made great sacrifices for our freedom.  It is my hope that as we consider compensation and legislation, these families will also be accorded due consideration.

I would like to thank the witnesses for their testimony today.  I know many of you have traveled from far way to come educate us on this issue and I thank you.

Thank you especially for your sacrifice and your fidelity to our nation. 

Mr. Chairman, I yield back.