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Economic Opportunity Chairman Van Orden’s Opening Remarks at Field Hearing on Veteran Homelessness in California

Little Theater, MiraCosta College, 1 Barnard Drive, Oceanside, CA 92056, May 4, 2023 | Kathleen McCarthy

Today, Rep. Derrick Van Orden, (R-Wisconsin), the Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity, delivered the following opening remarks, as prepared, at the start of the subcommittee’s oversight field hearing to discuss the issue of veteran homelessness in San Diego, California:


The Subcommittee will come to order.


Good afternoon,


First, I want to thank all of you for joining us for this field hearing of the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity of the U.S. House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.


My name is Derrick Van Orden, and not only is it my pleasure to serve as the Congressman for the 3rd district of Wisconsin, but it also is an honor to serve as the Chairman of this Subcommittee.


Before we begin, I want to say what a pleasure it is to be here in Oceanside at Miracosta College. You all have a wonderful campus, and we really appreciate it that we get to hold a field hearing in this room, and then students get to go to class here just a few hours later.


I also want to thank my friend, colleague and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee, Congressman Mike Levin, for hosting us today…and inviting us to his district to get better weather than we do in D.C., or at least better ocean views.


I really appreciate how well we, and our staff, have worked together so far this Congress, and I hope we can continue to do so.


The people of the 49th district are lucky to have Rep. Levin as their representative.


Today we are here to discuss ending veteran homelessness both in the greater San Diego area, and across the country.


This topic is one of the reasons I ran for Congress, and the issues we discuss today, and have discussed over the last few months, are essential to repaying our debt to those who served.


Permanent housing is an essential component to a stable life after a veteran transitions out of active duty. Without a home, it is much harder to maintain a stable job, continue to acclimate to civilian life, and maintain mental health.


This Subcommittee in the past has done an amazing job improving programs for veterans, but we still have work to do.


Improving the HUD-VASH voucher program, finding a new Grant and Per-Diem rate, retaining V.A. employees that serve homeless veterans, and getting VA to actually hire more employees with the funds Congress has given them, are all areas that we must continue to work on.


However, it is also important that both Congress and the Department of Veterans Affairs administer and evaluate these programs in a way that ensures veterans are housed in a way that is fiscally responsible.


We must find ways to fund these essential programs without putting a huge financial burden on the backs of taxpayers now, or in the future.


We also need to ensure that the programs we have already paid for are being run how Congress intended. If we continue to pass programs without ever doing thorough oversight on the previous ones, I am afraid that we will see fraud in V.A., and our veterans will be hurt.


I am hopeful that we will hear from both V.A., local government, and community providers about the impact of programs this Subcommittee has already enacted, and find new ways to improve the lives of America’s veterans.


We still have a lot of work to do in this area, so I am looking forward to hearing more about how V.A. will function in a post COVID-19 world.


I look forward to hearing from our witnesses about what they believe works, what they believe does not work, and how Congress can empower them to ensure that no veteran goes unhoused across our country.


I now yield to the Ranking Member for his opening remarks.

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