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Opening Statement of Hon. Russ Carnahan, Democratic Member, Committee on Veterans' Affairs

I would like to thank the Chair and Ranking Member for holding this hearing. We must ensure that the sacrifices of our current troops, veterans, and their families do not go unnoticed and that they are given the support and resources they deserve. Our troops are committed to protecting our freedom, and our commitment to them does not end when they return home.

As veterans try to reintegrate into civilian life, many of our heroes struggle with the physical and mental effects of conflict. PTSD rates have been steadily growing since the overseas conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq began. Diagnoses for depression are up particularly among younger active duty veterans who usually have higher combat exposure. Employment, effective health facilities, and psychological services are crucial to ensuring our veterans and their families are properly supported. Particularly in these times of tight federal budgets and deficit reduction efforts, we must remain steadfast in our support of our veterans.

This subcommittee has held two hearings on the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010. The intent of this law is to provide comprehensive assistance and support services to family caregivers of veterans with a serious illness or injury. Unfortunately, the current interpretation of the law excludes the caregivers of seriously ill veterans. The sacrifices made by our military families begin before deployment and continue after their loved one returns home. H.R. 3279 will ensure that we fulfill our commitment to the families of seriously ill veterans, families who continue to serve our country by caring for our nation’s heroes when they are most in need of care.

I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today on ways that we can work together to guarantee our service men and women have the support they need and deserve when they return home.