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Chairman Bost Delivers Opening Remarks at Final Joint House & Senate VSO Hearing of 118th Congress

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 final 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: TAL, JWV, TAPS, NCHV, MOAA, NACVSO, NCAI, VVA, NGAUS, and FRA.


Good morning, everyone!


Thank you all for being here.


I would first like to welcome our friends from the Senate, Chairman Tester and Ranking Member Moran.  Thank you for joining us.


And good morning to my fellow legionnaires!


I am a proud member of Murphysboro, Illinois Paul Stout American Legion Post #127.


And I promise, my dues are paid.


I would like to welcome American Legion’s National Commander, Mr. Daniel Seehafer, and his wife, Stacey, for being here today.


I would also like to give a shoutout to the American Legion National Auxiliary President Lisa Williamson, and National Commander of the Sons, Donald Lee Hall, or J.R. as he’s known, for being here today.


And a special welcome to my friends from Illinois.


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.


Our veteran service organization community plays a vitally important role in making that happen.


You know where V.A. is falling short because you hear it from your boots on the ground around the country.


Make no mistake, your advocacy both here in DC, and across the country, makes a difference.


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 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.


As Chairman, it is 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 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 veteran community care program through our oversight efforts.


We are also working on legislation to increase accessibility and accountability to the V.A. health care system.


As Chairman and a fellow veteran, I will keep pushing the V.A. to be more transparent with veterans when they are deciding their best option for care, whether in the V.A. or in the Community.


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 the American Legion’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.


And so much more.


We will get this package done this year.


But our work is nowhere close to being finished.

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


Because veterans are still:

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

·         Facing challenges receiving timely healthcare and services in rural and remote areas;

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

·         And dealing with the effects of a 20-year war and accessing quality, timely, COMPREHENSIVE mental health care and support.  


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


I promise to keep up the fight we are all in together. Now is not the time to take our foot off of the gas.


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.


I now yield to Chairman Tester for his opening statement.
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