Congressman Collin Peterson -- Minnesota's Seventh Congressional District
Press Release
November 6, 2006
Allison Myhre/218-731-1657

Veterans, VA budget should get a boost

By Congressman Collin Peterson


In the coming days we will be celebrating Veterans Day. We will honor more than 25 million living American veterans who have worn the uniform and taken an oath to protect and defend this great country.  What can we do as a nation or as individuals to honor all the men and women who served our country?  We should give them our utmost respect, not only in words but in action too.

Some politicians should stop saying “we support the troops” when their actions say otherwise. Recently a veterans’ organization graded all members of Congress on how much they actually support the troops. You will be surprised at the number of lawmakers who received a failing grade. You can find the information at Veterans are tired of the lip service given to them by these politicians every year. It’s is time to actually put up or shut up. We need to stop playing politics with the Department of Veterans Affairs budget.

While our soldiers are deployed thousands of miles away in the global war on terrorism in Afghanistan, the war in Iraq, and in bases throughout the world, the thanks of a grateful nation should be reflected not only in saying thank you but also in giving the proper funding amount to the VA budget, to give all veterans the health care they have earned.

Because of advancements to equipment and medical treatment, the survival rate for injured soldiers is higher than in previous wars.  Many wounded soldiers returning home will be more dependent on the VA for their wheelchairs, prostheses, and health care for the remainder of their lives. For this newest generation of wartime veterans, the VA is increasingly becoming their health care system of choice.

The current administration has tried to justify its record of under-funding veterans’ health care by asserting that overall funding has increased. Such a claim misses the point because there also has been a significant increase in the number of veterans using the health care system. For example, the past decade, the number of VA patients increased by 2.4 million.

All too often I hear from veterans who are not able to receive the level of care that they deserve because the VA budget is not adequate to staff or update their facilities. I am advocating for mandatory funding for the VA health care budget so veterans will no longer have to wonder from year to year if VA will be there for them or not.  

This year, more than ever, our veterans and their families deserve our respect and support as we remember them during this important holiday. Especially this week, please take the time to remember the veterans in your community.