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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 to all of the members of the panel for joining us today.  Your organizations are a vital link between our committees, representing the entire Congress, and our veterans. 

From traditional combat injuries like the ones I saw during my tour in Vietnam to the recently recognized invisible wounds, every veteran, regardless of race, creed, color, age, sexual orientation, or national origin, deserves the very best care and support for their unique needs. Organizations like yours ensure that every segment of the veteran population has the opportunity to be heard.    

Perhaps the most glaring deficiency, which you have all raised, is the backlog of claims at the Department of Veterans Affairs.  I also share your concerns about instances of homelessness, mental instability, and suicide among veterans which 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.  It is imperative that we make significant strides to end these problems which have plagued our nation’s bravest men and women for decades.

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 organizations, we can continue efforts to ensure that no American Veteran is left without the care and support they deserve.