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Opening Statement of Hon. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, a Representative in Congress from the State of South Dakota

Thank you to everyone for being here.  I congratulate Chairman Filner and Ranking Member Buyer for holding today’s hearing to examine the long-term costs of the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Now, as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are producing a new generation of sick and wounded veterans, it is important that Congress evaluate what has been provided thus far to care for the servicemembers of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.  We must also evaluate the future costs that will be incurred when these servicemembers return home and seek care and benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. 

All too often, we consider the cost of the war, but ignore the cost of caring for the warrior.  Congress has a responsibility to shine a light on the long-term costs of these conflicts, so that in future years, when the wars are over, we are prepared and committed to ensure the brave men and women who each day endure the cost of freedom are not left behind. 

I am pleased that we have the opportunity to hear from today’s panelists and am grateful to have the opportunity to hear their suggestions and answers to the critical issues involved.   I look forward to hearing their testimonies.

Again, I want to thank everyone for taking the time to be here and discuss these important matters.