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Opening Statement of Hon. Silvestre Reyes, Democratic Member, Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

Thank you Chairman Miller and Ranking Member Filner for convening this important hearing. One of the most critical functions of this committee is to ensure that we are providing the men and women who served our nation with the health care, compensation, and support they have earned.

Secretary Shinseki, thank you for your service and tireless dedication to all veterans and thank you for being here today.   The VA is an incredibly diverse and dispersed agency and this committee will spend the next few weeks studying the budget document provided by the Department.

Today, I am particularly interested in hearing how the Department will deal with the difficult problem of unemployment among veterans - both those recently returned from Iraq and Afghanistan and those from other eras who are coping with long term unemployment. Adequate funding for VA health care continues to be a concern, and I look forward to working with you as we expand the VA's footprint in El Paso to meet the needs of the growing veterans population. Younger veterans dealing with prosthetics, brain and eye injuries, and post traumatic stress bring new challenges to the VA, but these new issues cannot supplant the needs of older veterans who continue to deal with the effects of their service.  

There are no easy answers, but we owe those who sacrificed themselves in defense of our nation nothing less than the healthcare and benefits that have earned with their service.