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Hon. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, a Representative in Congress from the State of South Dakota

Thank you to everyone for being here.  I congratulate Chairman Filner for holding today’s hearing to examine one of the most important issues confronting this Committee and our nation’s veterans – the funding process for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

I believe the increased level of funding provided by the House and Senate will go a long ways to helping address some of the VA’s chronic problems.  However, while the Department of Veterans Affairs and Congress have made some tremendous improvements to VA funding in recent years, there continues to be room for improvement and analysis of the process.  This point is revealed by the fact that we have again begun a new fiscal year without the passage of a new VA appropriations bill. 

Now, as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are producing a new generation of sick and wounded veterans, it is time for Congress to address the adequacy, timeliness, and reliability of VA health care funding. 

I am pleased that we have the opportunity to hear from today’s panelists and am grateful to have the opportunity to hear your suggestions and answers to the critical issues involved.   I look forward to hearing your testimonies.

Again, I want to thank everyone for taking the time to be here and discuss these important matters.