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Opening Statement of Hon. Michael H. Michaud, Ranking Democratic Member, Subcommittee on Health

Thank you, Madam Chair.

I would like to thank you for holding today’s hearing on the progress of the Federal Recovery Coordination Program (FRCP).  In May, this Subcommittee held a hearing on the very same issue, and I am pleased with the continued oversight of this critical program.  If it is not done right, servicemembers suffer.

Following the Subcommittee hearing, I joined Ms. Buerkle in sending a letter on May 26th to the Senior Oversight Committee requesting a detailed response as to how the VA and DoD can work together on implementing the Government Accountability Office’s recommendations and requesting an analysis of integrating the FRCP and the Recovery Coordination Program.  

On August 19th, we then had to send a follow-up letter because of the lack of a response from the Senior Oversight Committee.  The letter we finally did receive, dated September 12, 2011, was hardly detailed.  The GAO reports that the agencies reached an “impasse” on the content of the final letter responding to our concerns. 

This lack of response only serves to magnify, in my mind, the continuing problems between the VA and DoD in working collaboratively and highlights the lack of progress that we have heard and read about recently in submitted testimony.  I can only imagine what this means for other critical decisions that directly impact veterans and their families.  I do not feel confident that the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the Department of Defense can overcome existing barriers and the tangle of bureaucracy that seems to surround the implementation of this program.

Let us all keep in mind that this isn’t about the individuals sitting in this room today.  This is about the brave men and women who have been injured while serving this country and our absolute commitment to their recovery and reintegration back into the communities where they live – whatever that takes.  We owe them that.

Today, I would like to hear about solid progress that has been made and what is being done to move this forward in an efficient and effective manner.  I also would like to hear from each of the panels what this Subcommittee might be able to do to help. 

Madam Chair, thank you again for holding this hearing, the second in a series of hearings to assist in our oversight of the Federal Recovery Coordination Program.  As we continue to monitor this issue, we will work to actively engage the VA and DoD as we move forward.

I yield back.