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Opening Statement of The Honorable Jeff Miller, Chairman, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

This hearing will come to order.

Good morning.

It is my privilege to welcome you to today’s joint hearing of the House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committees to receive the legislative presentations of AMVETS, the Air Force Sergeants Association, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Jewish War Veterans, Gold Star Wives, the Fleet Reserve Association, Vietnam Veterans Association, and the National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs

These groups represent what is truly great about the veteran community—that veterans and their families, no matter what generation or branch of service, continue to tend to the needs of their fellow Americans who have served.

We are also joined here today by Chairman Sanders, Ranking Member Michaud, and Ranking Member Burr as well as Committee members from both the House and the Senate.

In the interest of time and in keeping with the tradition of these hearings, after hearing from myself, Chairman Sanders, Ranking Member Michaud, and Ranking Member Burr, I would like to ask all other Committee Members to waive their opening statements.

There will be an opportunity for remarks following today’s testimony.

Hearing no objection, so ordered.

I would also like to welcome the members of each organization’s auxiliary, and thank each of you for your work behind the scenes. 

The energy and attention that the auxiliaries bring to these issues ensures that no one is overlooked.

Thank you all for your service to our country and your service to your fellow veterans.

Before we go any further, I would like to take a moment to recognize the members of the different organizations who - like myself - are proud to call Florida home. Gentlemen and ladies, would you please stand? 

On behalf of all our neighbors in the Sunshine State, I thank you for your service and your sacrifice.

These committees, with your help, worked hard in the One Hundred and Twelfth Congress to ensure that the commitment America has made to its veterans remains strong.  Again in the One Hundred and Thirteenth Congress, we will look to you and your organizations to help us address the problems facing America’s veterans.

Together we reduced veteran unemployment and created new programs aimed at providing veterans Twenty First century job skills. 

We have vigilantly conducted oversight into all areas of the Department of Veterans Affairs in order to keep our veterans safe and to maximize the care they receive.  In these difficult fiscal times, there is no excuse for the waste of funds allocated to taking care of our veterans. 

While these committees have worked hard to ensure that the sequester does not impact VA, we must continue to work to ensure that our nation’s veterans receive the care they deserve.

Given the uncertain budget process, Ranking Member Michaud and I introduced H.R. Eight Hundred and Thirteen: Putting Veterans Funding First Act of Two Thousand and Thirteen. 

This bill will require Congress to fully fund the Department of Veterans Affairs discretionary budget a year ahead of schedule, ensuring that all VA services will have timely and predictable funding.

While every one of your organizations has a unique set of legislative priorities, you also share a common goal, one that we on these Committees share with you: providing nothing short of the best for our veterans, their families, and their survivors who have shared in their sacrifice.

In times like these, the work of organizations like yours has never been more important.

Thank you all once again.