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Before the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs Concerning Accomplishments and Goals In Veterans' Affairs



September 20, 2006

Good morning, Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of this committee. On behalf of the members and families of Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), it is my privilege today to offer our comments concerning what has been accomplished in the arena of veterans’ affairs during FY 2006, what remains to be done in the waning days of this fiscal year, and what needs to be addressed by this committee in FY 2007.

First, let me review the simple and straightforward legislative agenda of VVA. First, to secure adequate resources to properly administer the network of services that our Nation’s veterans have earned. This includes a more adequate sum for operation of VA Medical Centers and other vital health care functions. It also included increasing the number of adjudicators in the Compensation & Pension (C & P) system, counselors in Vocational Rehabilitation & Education (VR & E).

Second, we asked that you and your colleagues take action to greatly enhance the accountability of all employees in the VA, but especially managers and political appointees. This would include being held accountable for accurate adjudication decisions as opposed to just the volume of files moved forward in the C & P service, as it has appeared to be the case in the past. It include ensuring that contracts are drawn in such a manner as to systematize the reporting of contracts and unit costs, with an eye toward getting the most goods and services for the least expenditure of each taxpayer dollar. It would also include greater accountability in regard to access to medical and other services, as well as clinical outcomes.

Third, we asked that you take steps to greatly enhance outreach by the VA to inform veterans of their earned benefits at the VA and elsewhere in the Federal government.

As to what did happen this year, VVA commends you on your activism in tackling some of the issues of critical importance to veterans, particularly our newest veterans. You have sought to give real meaning to the term “seamless transition,” to foster active cooperation between the VA and the Department of Defense in providing assistance to newly minted veterans transitioning from active duty. You have pushed the VA to greatly improve the way it conducts its business in regard to Information Technology (IT). And you have rejected the Office of Management and Budget notion that the co-pay for prescription drugs be increased and a user fee be imposed on certain veterans who avail themselves of the VA health care system.

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