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

Thank you Chairmen Miller and Murray, Ranking Members Filner and Burr for calling this joint session of the Senate and House Veterans Affairs Committees.   And thank you Mr. Eubank and to the other members of the panel for joining us today.  The Veterans of Foreign Wars has been a leading institution in looking out for the best interests of our nation’s heroes for more than a century, and I commend you for continuing that effort.

Not since I returned from Vietnam four decades ago have there been more American combat veterans transitioning back into American society.  Although we have made major strides in our support for the warfighter as a nation, many of the problems that have plagued our veterans in the past are still prevalent today.  Instances of homelessness, mental instability, and suicide among veterans still far outpace that of the general population.  In addition, we are still battling the effects of battlefield dangers like Agent Orange, which may not appear until well after a service member has been discharged.

Today’s war presents new challenges as well.  Traumatic Brain Injury, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and other debilitating injuries are just a few of the problems facing the latest generation of Americans heroes.  It is imperative that we ensure every veteran, from every conflict, receives the treatment and resources deserved by the men and women who give so much defending this country.

I know it is the goal of every member of both of these committees that these needs are met.  I thank you again for your work, and I hope that, by working together with your organization, we can continue efforts to ensure that no American Veteran is left without the care and support they deserve.