VT Hails Senator Murray Selection as New VA Comm Chair

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA)

VT celebrates that a veteran advocate and a female, Sen. Patty Murray, has taken over a key leadership position in the United States Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  It is indeed refreshing to see new leadership emerging in the Senate, it has been a long time coming.  Senator Murray deserves this opportunity. And our veterans deserve Senator Murray.

As always it is not the time to have an all-out celebration, we will do that as we find out that she listens and brings up veterans issues that urgently need attention, that action and not words will follow. We need accountability, responsibility, quick and through reviews of problems, and resolution by real action to help our veterans today and not tomorrow.

Too often only a few figurehead VSO’sare heard from on the hill.  The veterans want and deserveto participate just like they did, for example, with the US House Government Reform and Oversight Committee when former US Representative and Chairman Chris Shays investigated Gulf War Illness and the Anthrax Vaccine Problem. 

We urgently need JOINT hearings between the House and the Senate to get down to real action and remedial steps on Gulf War Illness and not just joint hearings for the big five VSOs.  Only through joint action will we save duplication and delaying action.  The House VA Committee in the past was interested in this concept in the last year but the senate deferred at that time.  Let’s see if Senator Murray hears that loud and clear and responds.

Real action will only occur when all interested parties come to the table jointly.  Too many veterans and veterans’ advocates with good input and suggestions have been ignored, time for the politics and divisions to stop.  Time for answers and real action with real consistent follow up and commitment for the ill Gulf War Veterans that havesuffered for 20 years, along with the some 26-million veterans who are perhaps the least organized lobby in Washington.

Here is a press release and statement from Sen. Murray on her historic appointment:

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) released the following statement after she was announced as the new Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. Senator Murray, who has been a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee since 1995, is a widely recognized and outspoken advocate for America’s veterans. She has been honored for her work for veterans by the Vietnam Veterans of America, American Ex-POWs, the VFW, the Paralyzed Veterans of America and the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs. Among other things, Senator Murray has fought to give veterans access to quality care and benefits, has pushed Republican and Democratic administrations to provide the VA with responsible budgets, and has worked to ensure the VA is preparing for the influx of new veterans. Senator Murray has also worked to expand access to care for Washington state veterans by saving three state VA facilities from closure and by pressuring the VA to open community based health care clinics.

“This is a great honor, but an even bigger responsibility. As Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I have a tremendous duty to the 22 million veterans across the country who have stepped up to serve our nation and who deserve the highest quality care, benefits, and treatment in return.

“I am humbled by this Chairmanship not only because of the great veterans I’ll serve, but also because of the man whose shoes I’ll be working to fill. Senator Akaka has been, and always will be, a champion for his fellow veterans. I know that in the coming years he will continue to be a leader on this Committee, someone who I will rely on heavily, and someone who’ll never stop fighting for the veterans of his home state and our nation.

“I plan to work each day to ensure that the VA is working for our veterans, not against them. Our service members should never have to come home from fighting a war only to fight to get the benefits and care that they deserve.

“I know the VA has some of the most dedicated employees in the world and provides tremendous services to many of our veterans. But I also know there are a great many challenges to be met. Today, too many veterans are waiting far too long to get the benefits they’ve earned. Too many veterans are struggling to get access to mental health care, worker training, and other resources to help them transition from the battlefield to the civilian world. And still, far too many veterans are sleeping on the streets after serving their country. These are among the many issues I plan to take an active and aggressive approach to helping find solutions for.

“It has been one of the great privileges of my Senate career to fight for veterans like my father – a World War II veteran, or the Vietnam veterans I met interning at the VA in college, or the countless Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who I have spoken to about returning home with the visible and invisible wounds of war.

“These men and women, and all American veterans, will always be who I fight for, who I listen to first, and who I answer to. Their needs, their struggles, and their stories will be the ones I bring to the VA to help deliver change and meet the many challenges we face.”


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