Congressional Testimony: Progress Made But Much More to Do for America's Veterans
WASHINGTON, March 4 Today, Paralyzed Veterans of America (Paralyzed Veterans) National President Gene A. Crayton praised Congressional leaders for making Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare funding an advance appropriation, but urged that much more needs to be done for our nation's veterans with disabilities.
"VA in the last two years has received record levels of funding. You have also given VA new responsibilities and created new programs. Now it is important to ensure that these resources are used wisely and where they are most needed," Crayton told lawmakers. "Paralyzed Veterans of America has been, and will continue to be, an advocate for garnering necessary resources and benefits for veterans. We have a responsibility -- as you do -- to be stewards of the system. We must be able to say there are enough nurses at the bedside and that waiting times for referrals are acceptable -- the resources must provide tangible results."
In oral and written testimony before the Senate and House Veterans' Affairs Committees,
Crayton drew lawmakers' attention to an alarming increase in the number of reports from veterans who are being inappropriately billed by the Veterans Health Administration for their care. He said that this problem is being experienced by both service-connected and non service-connected veterans with disabilities. Crayton called on VA to change its regulations immediately to end this practice and for Congress to act if it did not.
Crayton also called for much-needed increases in Special Monthly Compensation. These payments help veterans with disabilities with quality of life issues as diverse as the inability to naturally control bowel and bladder function to bathing or eating. He urged lawmakers to consider the provisions of H.R. 3407, the Severely Injured Veterans Benefits Improvement Act of 2009, that specifically increases benefit rates for veterans with severe disabilities.
Highlighting the important work of our nation's 44 million care givers who assist people with disabilities with activities of daily living, Crayton called on Congress to complete the actions it started last year to enhance programs and services for this frequently overlooked group.
Crayton also focused on the recommendations contained in The Independent Budget (IB) for Fiscal Year 2011 released earlier this year. Now in its 24th year, the IB is a comprehensive budget and policy document, by veterans for veterans, co-authored by Paralyzed Veterans, AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans, and Veterans of Foreign Wars (www.independentbudget.org).
Sixty-three years ago, Paralyzed Veterans of America was founded by a band of spinal cord injured service members who returned home from World War II to a grateful nation, but also to a world with few solutions to the challenges they faced. These veterans from the "Greatest Generation" made a decision not just to live, but to live with dignity as contributors to society. They created an organization dedicated to veterans service, medical research and civil rights for people with disabilities. And for more than six decades, Paralyzed Veterans of America and its 34 chapters have been working to create an America where all veterans and people with disabilities, and their families, have everything they need to thrive. (www.pva.org).
SOURCE Paralyzed Veterans of America
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