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Opening Statement of The Honorable Mike Michaud, Ranking Minority Member, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

Thank you Mr. Chairman.

Good Morning Commander Thien.  We thank you and the nearly 2 million members of the VFW for your military service, and your continued dedication to our country and its veterans.

I want to welcome those of you in the audience from the great state of Maine.  I know Commander Olsen and a few members of the Maine VFW brought some of our         wonderful Maine weather with them.  It is always an honor to see you again.

Commander, I share the VFW’s commitment to ensuring that fiscal constraints are not   carried on the backs of our deserving veterans.  We owe it to America’s veterans to provide certain and stable VA budgets.  I want to thank you for your support of H.R. 813, the Putting Veterans Funding First Act.  We have seen how well advance appropriations work for VA medical care.  It is time that the rest of VA’s discretionary budget be treated the same.

The VA is pursuing a wide range of initiatives, from new methods of health care delivery to electronic benefits management.  These investments will help bring the Department into the 21st century.  Working with you and the VA, we will make sure that these initiatives are implemented fairly, transparently, and in the best interest of veterans and taxpayers.

The VFW is an active and valued partner to us in Congress as we work to keep our promise to America’s veterans. Making sure that the VA can meet the challenges of the 21st century is a job for us all.  I know that VFW, your members across the country, and your staff here in Washington are ready and eager for the challenge.  

I look forward to your testimony today, and again thank you for VFW’s long history of distinguished service, in and out of uniform.

Thank you Mr. Chairman and I yield back the balance of my time.