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Opening Statement of Hon. Silvestre Reyes, a Representative in Congress from the State of Texas

I want to thank Chairman Murray, Ranking Member Burr, Chairman Miller and Ranking Member Filner for calling this joint hearing to allow us the opportunity to hear from the Disabled American Veterans (DAV).  Having served as a member of the House Committee on Veteran Affairs in the past, I have had the opportunity to engage and work closely with the leadership of DAV to ensure that our veterans and, especially, disabled veterans have the support they need. 

Representing more than 1.4 million members, DAV is a strong advocate for our nation’s service-disabled veterans, their families and survivors.   Personally, as a Vietnam veteran, I truly appreciate the hard work and advocacy efforts of DAV as it works to ensure that veterans have access to federal and state programs and that they receive the benefits and services they have earned through their service to our country.  I congratulate the organization on its 91st anniversary and wish them the best as they continue to advocate on behalf of our heroes.

It is critical that we ensure that our service-disabled veterans, their families and survivors have the support and resources they need to lead fully productive and normal lives.  In recent years, Congress has passed significant legislation providing historic budget increases, expanding access to VA health care, improving health services for all veterans, and modernizing benefits earned by America’s troops.  I am proud of what we have done and look forward to continue working on those issues that are yet to be resolved, including reforming the Veterans Benefits Administration’s disability claims process, eliminating the prohibition against concurrent receipt, supporting comprehensive quality medical services that adequately address mental health issues, and finally, taking aggressive action to ensure that the Department of Defense and the Department of Veteran Affairs are working together to create a streamlined and efficient electronic medical records system.

It is my hope that the information provided in today’s hearing will allow us to identify the most pressing issues affecting our service-disabled veterans, their families, and survivors so that we may continue to support and enhance the lives of our heroes who so bravely served our country.