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Opening Statement of Hon. Steve Buyer, Ranking Repubican Member, and a Representative in Congress from the State of Indiana

Thank you Mr. Chairman,

General Scott, thank you for visiting with us today to testify on the recommendations of the Veterans’ Disability Benefits Commission.

This prestigious commission was established by Public Law 108-136, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2004, to carry out a study of the benefits that are provided to compensate and assist veterans and their survivors for disabilities and deaths attributable to military service.  

General Scott, you and your fellow members of this commission are to be commended for your dedicated work over the past two and a half years.

Your efforts required many long hours discussing issues in meetings, and poring over an array of complex materials to arrive at the recommendations you have presented.

I heartily agree with the eight guiding principles [included in the executive summary] you identified.

These principles provide a sound basis for considering any recommendations for improvement to veterans’ benefits

Clearly, you and your fellow commissioners share my sentiments that veterans and the men and women of the armed forces are among our nation’s finest citizens. 

We are in a long war against global terrorism.

The enemy we encounter has its sights set on objectives it hopes to accomplish a hundred years from now.

…it is our great grandchildren whom they plan to oppress.

We have no choice but to engage those who despise free will, and wish to destroy us, and the freedom we cherish.

It is imperative that we maintain a military that is capable of swift response in a world-wide theatre of operations.

To do so, we must continue to attract the caliber of people our military now has, and those who serve must be confident that they and their families will be well cared for should harm come their way.

Early on during my initial review of your report, I could see the Commission understood this fact well.

The Commission wisely focused on veterans’ long-term issues, such as the need to revamp the disability retirement and compensation systems.

It has been my long-standing view that we must modernize VA and establish a transition process that is seamless in its efficiency.

The Commission’s report, along with the recommendations of the Dole/Shalala commission, is a big step toward attaining this goal.

So I look forward to hearing your testimony, General Scott.

We will carefully consider all of the commission’s recommendations, and hopefully use those we determine are most beneficial as a guide to meaningful and long-term policies to improve the lives of veterans and their families.

Mr. Chairman, I suggest that this committee consider the Commission’s priority recommendations first, and that those that are determined to be meritorious should receive prompt legislative action.

Also, Mr. Chairman, there appears to be potential for PAYGO issues, as we consider the Commission’s recommendations. 

While we may not have to grapple with these questions today, we must be mindful that as Congress and the Administration move forward, we must deal with the funding issues that pertain to the recommendations.

Thank you, and I yield back my time.