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

Thank you Mr. Chairman.

As you know, Congress has a duty to provide oversight.  For this oversight to be effective, however, Congress needs the cooperation of the Administration.

Only when we work together, can we ensure that our nation’s veterans receive the kind of quality medical care they deserve, and all the other benefits to which they are entitled.

And clearly we have a lot of work to do.

Veterans are experiencing long wait times for service and follow-up care.

Last week the Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General announced that the VA had understated the wait times our nation’s veterans were experiencing for health care services.  According to the IG, 27 percent of the cases it reviewed were veterans with serious service-related disabilities.

I have requested that this Committee pursue further action on this report, but in the interim, I hope that, the VA will examine the IG’s report, and begin to fix this problem.

More broadly, when we see long wait times, I think it is only fair to ask if we are providing adequate resources to serve our veterans.

Secretary Nicholson has heard us ask this question many times, and I have no doubt that his successor will hear it many times as well.

In the mean time, I look forward to hearing from the Secretary today about the challenges he believes we face in the months and years ahead.

I want to thank him for appearing before us today, and for his service to our nation’s vets.

I yield back.