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Witness Testimony of Hon. Chellie Pingree, a Representative in Congress from the State of Maine

Chairman Michaud, Ranking Member Brown, thank you for having me here today. I am happy to be here in front of the Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Health to talk about a bill I recently introduced, the Inform All Veterans Act, HR 6220.  This bill will ensure that veterans are given complete information about service connected benefits at all VA Medical Centers.

All too often, a veteran will visit a VA Medical Center, ask how to file a claim for service connection, and are either not given the correct information on how to pursue their claim, or worse they leave the Medical Center thinking that their claim is under way when it is not.

This is a symptom of the Veterans Health Administration and Veterans Benefits Administration not communicating with each other effectively and operating as silos.  Interagency communication is a necessity, especially when we are talking about basic, earned services.

Under this bill, the VHA would be required to ask during the check- in process if a veteran would like information about the disability claims process. If the answer is yes, then straightforward, easy to understand literature is shared which will outline how to contact VBA or a Veterans Service Officer to start the disability claims process.

Congress has a responsibility to take care of our veterans. We cannot do that if we do not inform them about the health care and compensation their service has earned.  This common sense approach will help veterans avoid the bureaucratic red tape that prohibits many veterans from even filing a claim.

Again, thank you Chairman Michaud and Ranking Member Brown for allowing me to be here today, and for all you have done on behalf of our nation’s veterans.  I am happy to answer any questions the panel has about this bill.