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Hon. David P. Roe, Ranking Republican Member, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations

Thank you for yielding, Mr. Chairman.

I would like to start by saying that I am looking forward to working with the members on both of Subcommittees here today, and particularly with you, Mr. Mitchell, and the other members on the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations as the Ranking Member of the subcommittee.  I understand that you and my predecessor, Ms. Ginny Brown-Waite, had a good working relationship on this committee, and I hope that we can continue in that vein as we conduct oversight on issues relating to the Department of Veterans Affairs, and work to assist those who sacrificed so much for the good of our country, our Nation’s veterans.

The issue at hand, document mishandling and shredding at the Department of Veterans Affairs is unacceptable.  When these issues came to the forefront of our scope back in early October of last year, during an investigation by the Office of the Inspector General showed that documents necessary for processing claims were found in shredding bins at several Veteran Benefits Administration (VBA) facilities.  Further issues arose from documents with adjusted “date-of-claims” which initiated a request by Ranking Member Buyer on October 14, 2008 for an OIG investigation into the issue.

Our Nation’s veterans deserve better than this.  The mishandling of their claims documents is inexcusable.  The VA is responsible for assuring our Nation’s veterans that they will be given every opportunity to submit their claims, and have their complete claims file reviewed in a timely manner.  I appreciate that former Secretary Peake took immediate action to address these issues, and I look forward to hearing from today’s witnesses on what further actions have been taken to rectify this situation. 

Again, thank you Mr. Chairman, and I yield back.