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Opening Statement of Hon. Harry E. Mitchell, a Representative in Congress from the State of Arizona (Statement for the Record)

Thank you Mr. Chairman.

I would like to thank Mr. Conatser and all of the distinguished witnesses for joining us today to present the American Legion’s outlook for our nation’s veterans.

Let me also thank the American Legion for being an important partner in passing the veterans’ appropriations bill earlier this year which signified the single-largest investment in veterans’ health care in the 77-year history of the agency.

I’m very proud of that legislation, and I know you are too.

And while it represents an important step forward, I think we can all agree that we need to do more.

Our nation’s veterans are waiting too long to get the health care they need, and the process many of our returning heroes face in as they transition out of the military and into the VA system is filled with bureaucratic red tape.

I know we can do better, but we’ll need your help.  Soon we will be welcoming a new Secretary to the Department of Veterans Affairs, and I think we have a real window of opportunity.

I am looking forward to hearing from our witnesses today about how we can make use of this opportunity and raise the bar for veteran services.

I yield back.