March 12, 2008 — Senators Daniel Akaka, Charles Schumer and Patty Murray and Representatives Bob Filner and Chet Edwards joined veterans in a press conference today to discuss how the Democrats’ budget will help improve the quality of life for our nation’s veterans. Democrats have a fiscally responsible plan to restore military readiness, honor our commitment to troops and veterans, and enhance national security.
“The costs of war are not limited to the battlefield,” said Akaka, Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “Care for our troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, and those from previous wars, must be considered part of the ongoing costs of war. I am pleased that the Budget Resolution for Fiscal Year 2009 contains $3.2 billion more than the President requested for VA, another historic increase provided by Congress. This increase means that VA can provide mental health care to those who return home with invisible wounds such as PTSD, that valuable programs like VA research will not be cut, and that care for more visible wounds, such as amputations and traumatic brain injury, will be of the best quality. Caring for the men and women who have fought for our nation shows future generations that America appreciates the sacrifices required to serve in uniform.”
Said Schumer: “With his budget, the Administration has effectively told the troops, you must take care of us, but we will not take care of you. Today, Democrats in Congress are standing up and offering a budget that says ‘if the President will not fulfill his duty to America’s heroes, we will.’ Veterans returning home deserve the best healthcare that we can provide. We cannot forget that when soldiers’ duty to this country ends, our duty to them has barely begun.”
“Democrats know all too well what happens when the VA gets shortchanged — the men and women who have served us end up paying the biggest price,” Murray said. “So we’re saying, ‘No,’ to the Administration’s shortsighted budget cuts. Our service members are our heroes, and they deserve the best we can give them.”
Said Filner (D-CA), Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs: “This budget builds on the success of last year, recognizes the needs faced by America’s veterans today and invests in our veterans for tomorrow. In this time of war, as we continue to send men and women into harm’s way, we must be committed and prepared to provide the resources to care for these heroes upon their return – and this budget does that.”
“With this budget, Democrats in Congress in just two years will have increased veterans funding for health care and benefits more than the Republican led Congress did in 12 years combined when they held the majority,” said Rep. Chet Edwards (D-TX), Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs.
Said Jon Soltz, Chairman and Co-founder, Votevets.org and Iraq War Veteran: “For far too long, this administration has tried to shortchange our troops and our veterans. Certainly, it’s the most anti-troop, anti-veteran administration in my lifetime. It’s time to restore responsibility to the budget, and the proposal from the majority does just that.”
Jesse Broder Van Dyke is a spokesperson for U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii.