Opening Statement of Hon. Jerry Moran, a Representative in Congress from the State of Kansas
I want to first welcome our distinguished guests with us today. Senator Dole and Secretary Shalala have both experienced long and successful careers in public service. Today, we appreciate their willingness to use their time and talents for a most worthy goal: to ensure our country is providing the best care and services to our military men and women and veterans, especially for those wounded in service to our country.
A couple years back, Senator Dole published a moving memoir titled “One Soldier’s Story.” In this book he chronicles his powerful story of growing up in Russell, KS, going off to war, being wounded on a battlefield in Italy, and his struggle to overcome the odds to recover and rebuild his life. What I found remarkable about the Senator’s recovery period was not only his personal courage, but also the help that he received from those around him. Senator Dole wrote, “None of us who travels the valleys of life ever walks alone.” From his mother who was by his bedside night and day, to the gifted Army doctors, to the Russell community who collected donations in a cigar box to pay for his surgeries, the system of support for wounded servicemembers matters.
Our military members and veterans today deserve a strong support system, one that matches the times. The Wounded Warrior Commission - after several months of visits to DOD and VA facilities, public meetings, and patient surveys and interviews – recommends that improvements can and should be made. Change is needed to modernize the current system to adjust to the realities of today’s wars and improve the quality of life of soldiers and their families. The Commission has put forth a set of action items to do this.
It is now Congress’s turn to take a serious look at these recommendations. To move things along, Congressman Salazar and I have introduced the Wounded Warriors Commission Implementation Act, H.R. 3502, to enact the recommendations of the Commission requiring congressional action. Before the Commission’s report was released, both the House and Senate acted to pass legislation addressing some of the concerns later identified by the Commission. This was a good first step to improving care and services, but clearly more comprehensive action is needed. I encourage my colleagues to move quickly to make the changes necessary to support those who have sacrificed so much for our country.