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

Thank you Chairman Miller and Ranking Member Filner for calling this hearing to discuss the VA’s construction planning.  It is clear that many VA facilities are old and out dated.  So even in a constrained budget environment, it is imperative that we continue to update, and where necessary, replace VA medical facilities. 

In addition to rehabilitating existing VA health care facilities, it is essential that we find a way to make veterans health care more accessible.  There are many ways to provide health services to America’s veterans.  Secretary Shinseki stated before this committee earlier this year that his fiscal year 2012 budget request includes more than $108 million for the Veterans Relationship Management (VRM) program and $70 million for the Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record (VLER) program.  While these are great leaps forward in providing access to veterans, there is no substitute to having a local medical facility.

I want to commend the Veterans Administration in their implementation of the ten-year Strategic Capital Investment Plan.  By looking twice as far into the future than the previous CARE plan, it will enable the VA to more effectively provide medical services across the country.   With the growing number of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans returning with persistent wounds like traumatic brain injury and post traumatic stress disorder, it is imperative that we ensure they have continued access to medical care regardless of where they call home.

I know it is the goal of every member of this committee that we ensure every veteran has access to health care.  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.