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

hank you Chairwoman Buerkle and Ranking Member Michaud for bringing this issue before the committee today.  And thank you to the members of the panel for your service to our veterans and for being here today.   It is always the goal of the members of this committee to ensure that our Nation’s veterans receive the finest care possible once they leave the service.  With that goal in mind, we passed the Caregiver’s Assistance Act.  We intended to extend the benefit provided by the Department of Defense to our military’s brave men and women who sustained injuries serving this great nation.   These injuries include not only external physical wounds, but also internal and psychological ailments that can result from military service. 

It is a great concern to me and my colleagues that nine months after enactment of this law, the program has not been implemented.  I understand this is a complex program with many considerations, but this is not a new program in military health care.  In fact this is simply meant to ensure soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines receive the same level of care and compensation they received will under Department of Defense medical care.  For this reason, I am in disbelief that the VA could not create a plan to extend this care in less than nine months.

Like many new programs, the legislation governing this initiative is not perfect.  Many people for whom we intended to provide support to have been excluded from the benefits they deserve.  I hope today’s dialogue will give us a clear path to correcting the shortcomings of the current Caregivers Legislation. 

Thank you Madame Chairwoman and I yield back the balance of my time.