Hon. Jeff Miller, Ranking Republican Member, Subcommittee on Health
Thank you Chairman Michaud.
I ask unanimous consent that my statement be included in the record, and that I may have five legislative days to revise and extend my remarks.
It is good to be here with our colleagues from the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs, and I would like to welcome Chairman Hall and Ranking Member Lamborn.
We have seen both women and minorities answer the call of duty in growing numbers and it is vitally important that we make sure that there are not any barriers for these veterans to access VA benefits and services, and that VA provides specialized services to meet their unique needs.
Seven percent of our Nation’s veterans or roughly
1.7 million are women. My home state of Florida is one of the five States with the largest number of women veterans, with over 132,000. As the number of women serving in the active duty, guard and reserve continue to increase, so must our over oversight to monitor the activities of VA to serve this population.
I am pleased to see our colleague, Representative Heather Wilson from New Mexico before the Subcommittees. She holds the distinct honor of being the only woman veteran of the United States Congress. Previously, she testified before the Health Subcommittee in the 107th Congress. I look forward to her testimony and to learn how VA’s performance in meeting the specialized needs of women veterans has evolved over the past five years.
Similarly, there are over 3.8 million minority veterans, accounting for roughly 15 percent of the veteran population according to the 2000 Census. We need to be aware of the actions VA is taking to support the use of VA benefits, programs, and services by minority veterans; to target outreach efforts through community networks and to initiate activities that educate and sensitize staff to the unique needs of minority veterans.
I thank all of our witnesses for joining us today. Your testimony will provide us insight into how well VA is attending to the specific needs of women and minority veterans and help us to identify gaps in services and necessary improvements with respect to both benefit and health care programs including outreach and mental health treatment.
Thank you and I yield back the balance of my time.