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Chairman Bost’s Opening Remarks at First Joint House & Senate VSO Hearing of 2024

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mike Bost (R-Ill.), delivered the following opening remarks, as prepared, at the start of the first of three annual joint House and Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs veteran service organization (VSO) hearings to discuss the organizations’ legislative priorities, concerns, and initiatives on behalf of the veterans, their families, and their survivors they represent nationwide. This hearing includes testimony from the following VSOs: VFW, PVA, WWP, NASDVA, MRC, BSF, IAVA, BVA, SWAN, SVA, and AMVETS.


Good morning.


Thank you all for being here.


And thank you to our friends on the other side of the Capitol for hosting our first joint hearing during the second session of the 118th Congress.


It is an honor to join my friends Chairman Tester, Ranking Member Moran, and Ranking Member Takano in welcoming you to today’s joint VSO hearing.


I would like to thank VFW’s National Commander-in-Chief, Mr. Duane Sarmiento and his wife, Ellen, for being here today.


I would also like to give a shoutout to the Illinois State Commander, Mr. Brett Nila.


If you are joining us from Illinois, please stand if you are able – welcome to Washington, D.C. and THANK YOU for traveling here from the best state in the union.


As most of you know by now, being Chairman is not a responsibility I take lightly.


It’s personal for me and my family – and it always will be.


I know the sacrifices each of you have made.


And I know that at the end of the day, you just want access to the healthcare, benefits, and services you have earned, without a headache.


The Veterans of Foreign Wars’ great advocates both here in DC, and across the country, make a difference.


You have my commitment that we will continue to fight for you – and the voices you represent – just as hard as you fought for us.


I am proud of all that we have accomplished together in the last few years.


Including the President signing the bipartisan PACT Act into law.


This legislation is the largest expansion of healthcare and benefits for veterans and their families in recent history. And we’re going to make sure V.A. gets it right.


And when they make mistakes, I’ll be the first to hold them accountable and get answers for you.


We need all of you to continue to let us know what is happening out in the field when it comes to wait times for toxic-exposed veterans’ healthcare and claims decisions.


As Chairman, a top priority of mine is to hold V.A. accountable for YOU, the men and women they serve, no matter what.


Please call or visit our website or call us to report waste, fraud, and abuse.


We need your help to make V.A. what you deserve.


Looking ahead, I’m focused on making improvements where we can to modernize the delivery of care and services and V.A.


We have made great progress in identifying improvements that could be made to the transition assistance program or TAP, through our oversight efforts.


We are working on legislation to increase accountability at DoD, as well as adding separate TAP courses for National Guard, Reservists, and military spouses.


We will make sure TAP is a worthwhile experience for every single servicemember.


I am also proud to have lead the effort to safeguard veterans’ Second Amendment rights.


As Chairman, a veteran, and a sportsman, fixing the V.A.’s discriminatory process towards veterans with fiduciaries has long been a top priority of mine and House Republicans.


Which is why I pushed for my bill to prohibit the V.A. from submitting a veteran or beneficiary’s name to the FBI’s NICS list without a judge’s consent to be included in this year’s V.A. appropriations bill.


I am proud to say my efforts to draw attention to this injustice paid off.


The language of my bill is currently included in the V.A. appropriations bill and will soon become law.


As the VFW knows, fixing this is long overdue.


I thank Senator Moran and Tester for helping us get this provision across the finish line.


I believe that Senator Moran introduced the first bill on this back in 2009.


Right now, we’re in bipartisan negotiations to get a package of veterans’ bills to the president’s desk.


This comprehensive package includes many of VFW’s priorities like:

·         Expansions to V.A.’s long-term care services to put veterans in control of where they want live out their days.

·         Strengthening the community care program.

·         Expansions to the VET-TEC education program.

·         Support for homelessness programs to ensure V.A. can continue to lift veterans out of homelessness and get them back on track.

And so much more.


I will work with my colleagues to get this package done as soon as possible.


But make no mistake, our work is nowhere close to being finished.


On my side of the Capitol, we have.. 

·         held over 50 oversight hearings,

·         brought in more than 100 V.A. officials to answer to the veterans and taxpayers they serve, and

·         connected with over 10,000 veterans and their families through in-person and telephone town halls.

My door has and will continue to be always open to you.


Because veterans are still:

·         Fighting a V.A. bureaucracy to access the benefits they want, when and where they need them;

·         Dealing with underperforming V.A. employees who don’t have the veterans’ best interest in mind;

·         And reeling with the impacts of Bidenomics and rising costs of living which is in return causing an increase in homelessness across the country, including with veterans.

These might seem like small things, but when it comes down to it, they impact veterans every single day.


And I will ensure that V.A. gets the budget it needs to complete its goal.


I look forward to meeting that mission alongside all of you.


Thank you, again, for being here today. With that, I yield back.
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