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Opening Statement of Honorable Jackie Walorski

Mr. Chairman and Ranking Member, it’s an honor to serve on this committee.  

I thank you for holding this hearing on such an important issue for our veterans and the future of veteran health care.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) oversees an impressive health care delivery system comprised of 152 hospitals and 821 community-based outpatient clinics (CBOCs) in addition to close to 300 veteran centers.  These facilities have a reputation for providing quality care specific to veteran needs; however, many of these facilities are in desperate need of repair and modifications to accommodate the influx of new veterans as well as a veteran population composed of approximately 43 percent who are 65 or older.  

There is an obvious greater need for state-of-the-art facilities that can address the unique needs of all veterans. This is why I am determined to ensure the replacement CBOC proposed for South Bend remains on schedule to open in 2015. The approximately 53,000 veterans in Indiana’s Second Congressional District have earned access to the primary care and mental health services promised with this new facility.  

The delays and significant cost increases for other VA medical center projects are disturbing. This is an issue which necessitates immediate action from the VA.  

I look forward to working with my colleagues and our panelists to establish a plan of action for the Department of Veterans Affairs which eliminates redundancies and streamlines processes that promote greater efficiency in the construction of major medical-facility projects.

Thank you.