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Opening Statement of Hon. Jeff Miller, a Representative in Congress from the State of Florida

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 

It is a privilege to welcome all the members of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) and its auxiliary that have traveled from all over the country to be here today to participate in this Joint Hearing and to receive DAV’s legislative priorities for the 110th Congress.

 The work you do to meet the special needs of injured and ill veterans including providing transportation to VA medical facilities; aiding homeless and needy veterans; and supporting both physical and psychological rehabilitation initiatives does so much to give hope and better the lives of your fellow veterans and their families.

Our new generation of combat veterans and those inured decades ago deserve the best medical care possible.   

Recent press reports about the mismanagement of outpatient care programs at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the neglect being experienced by some wounded service members is outrageous and an embarrassment that demands immediate resolution.  The fact that the Army has not staffed recovery facilities with sufficient case management professionals, such as psychiatric social workers and others familiar with coordinating benefits programs is beyond belief.  I have zero tolerance for such shortcomings.  We can and must do better.  I will see that the Army addresses the problems uncovered at Walter Reed at once and immediate actions are taken on the Department-wide independent review being launched to make sure that we never again have such lapses in the delivery of care to our wounded combat veterans.

As we meet today, the annual process to develop the budget for veterans programs for fiscal year 2008 is just getting started.  I want to thank the Commander for his testimony.  I assure you that my efforts will continue to work with the veterans’ groups and my colleagues in both bodies and on both sides of the aisle to get it right.  Providing top-notch medical care and a seamless transition for separating servicemembers between the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs is my top priority.