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Opening Statement of Honorable Dan Benishek M.D.

Good morning. The Subcommittee will come to order.  

    Thank you all for joining us this morning to discuss five pieces of legislation concerning the health care and services available to our honored veterans through the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA’s) health care system.

    The five bills we will discuss today are:

- Draft legislation, the Long-Term Care Veterans Choice Act;

- H.R. 1443, the Tinnitus Research and Treatment Act of 2013;

-  H.R. 1612, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to convey a parcel of land in Tuskegee, Alabama, to Tuskegee University;

- H.R. 1702, the Veterans Transportation Service Act; and,

- H.R. 2065, the Safe Housing for Homeless Veterans Act.

From ensuring the safety of homeless veterans residing in VA Homeless Grant and Per Diem facilities to ensuring that veterans eligible for VA-paid nursing home care are able to receive care in certified medical foster homes should they choose, these five bills address a number of critical issues facing today’s veterans and all of us charged with caring for them.

    I am eager to discuss each of these proposals in-depth to ensure a thorough understanding of their purpose, intended benefits, and unintended consequences.

    I am grateful to my colleagues who sponsored these bills and to our witnesses for being here to discuss them with us.

    I look forward our conversation.  

    With that, I now yield to Ranking Member Brownley for any opening statement she may have.

    The Chairman of the Full Committee – Jeff Miller from Florida’s 1st Congressional District – will be joining us later this morning to discuss his draft bill, the Long-Term Care Veterans Choice Act.

    I will yield to him when he arrives.

    In the meantime, it is an honor to be joined by my friends and colleagues - Mike Rogers, representative from Alabama’s 3rd Congressional District, and David McKinley, representative from West Virginia’s 1st Congressional District.

    Thank you all for your leadership on behalf of our veterans and for being with us this morning to discuss your proposals.

    It is an honor and a pleasure having you here.

    I would like to mention for the record that Mr. Barber will not be with us today, due to the tragic circumstances that have taken place in Arizona.

    Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the first responders who have perished.

    Their loved ones are true heroes, and their sacrifice will never be forgotten.

    Mike, we will begin with you.

    Please proceed with your testimony.   
    
    If there are no further questions, the first panel is now excused.
    
    I will now welcome our second panel to the witness table.

    Joining us on the second panel is Mr. Jacob Gadd, the Deputy Director for Health Care for the Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Division of the American Legion; Dr. Susan Shore, Chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee for the American Tinnitus Association; Mr. Adrian Atizado [AHT-I-ZOD-O], the Assistant National Legislative Director for the Disabled American Veterans; Robert Drexler, Member of the Board of Directors for the International Code Council; and, Mr. Raymond Kelley, the Director of the National Legislative Service for the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

    Thank you all for being here and for your hard work and advocacy.

    I appreciate you being here to present the views of your members.  
    
    Thank you all once again.

    If there are no further questions, the second panel is now excused and I will welcome our third and final panel to the witness table.

    Joining us from the Department of Veterans Affairs is Dr. Robert Jesse, the Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Health. Dr. Jesse is accompanied by Susan Blauert (BL-OW-ERT), Deputy Assistant General Counsel.

    Thank you, Dr. Jesse, for joining us today.

    Please proceed with your testimony.

    Thank you all once again. If there are no further questions, the third panel is now excused.  

    I ask unanimous consent that all Members have five legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous material.

    Without objection, so ordered.

    I would like to once again thank all of our witnesses and audience members for joining us in today’s conversation.

    This hearing is now adjourned.