(Washington, D.C.) – Today, standing with veterans, service organizations and bipartisan leaders, U.S. Senator Patty Murray discussed the new "Wounded Warriors" bill, a comprehensive proposal to eliminate the gaps in care that returning service members face.
"The Wounded Warrior bill provides real solutions for our troops and veterans from the battlefield to the VA and everywhere in between," Murray said. "Our service members have always answered the call of duty, but for too long our government has not answered theirs. I am proud to say those days are over."
On Flag Day, Murray spoke at a Capitol Hill press conference just after the bill passed the Senate Armed Services Committee. Also at the press conference were Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI), Senator John Warner (R-VA), Veterans Committee Chairman Daniel Akaka (D-HI), veterans, and representatives of Veterans of Foreign Wars, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Disabled American Veterans, and Veterans for America.
The legislation addresses better treatment and screening for PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury, electronic medical records, disability ratings, and more. The bill is the result of a unique partnership between the Committee on Veterans Affairs and the Senate Armed Services Committee. The two committees held a historic joint hearing on April 12th and developed the legislation together.
In her remarks, Murray noted that since Democrats have been in charge of Congress they have held dozens of oversight hearings on the War and veterans care, passed a Supplemental bill that for the first time includes funding for veterans, and passed out of committee a bill to fund the Department of Veterans Affairs for FY 2008 that boosts VA funding by $3.6 billion over the President's request .
More about the Wounded Warriors Bill
Senator Murray's remarks follow:
Today, as Americans celebrate our flag and the values it represents, I am proud to stand with my Senate colleagues and our nation's veterans to discuss two pieces of legislation honoring those who sacrificed for our flag and for our freedom. It is clear that the steps we are here to celebrate are five years late, but I want to thank Senators Levin and Akaka for their leadership in doing the right thing now.
Our troops answered the President’s call to serve. Without hesitation, they risked their lives. Some came home without limbs. Others returned with mental scars. Many – thankfully - have escaped without injury. But all of them earned our respect and the best care possible when they come home.
The Administration has failed, Democrats have done better
Unfortunately, from the shameful conditions at Walter Reed, to a lack of PTSD counselors and a benefit claims backlog of months, it is clear the Administration has failed to provide the care our heroes earned.
Today, I can say that in just a few short months – this new Congress has worked to reverse these failures, and to honor the promise our government makes to care for our warriors.
- Held dozens of oversight hearings on the War
- Passed a Supplemental bill that - for the first time since invading Iraq provides adequate funding for our veterans.
- Today we will pass a VA funding bill that provides $3.6 billion more than the President asked for to improve health care and expand services to our veterans.
And today we celebrate the result of working across committee lines – and across the aisle – to do right by our veterans. This issue is far too important for anything less.
Wounded Warriors Legislation
The Wounded Warrior bill, which passed Senator Levin's Committee today, provides real solutions for our troops and veterans from the battlefield to the VA and everywhere in between.
The bureaucratic nightmares facing our wounded service personnel are shameful. And our heroes deserve better.
I am proud that the Wounded Warriors works to reverse these problems:
- It requires the DOD and VA to develop a comprehensive plan to prevent, treat and diagnose TBI and PTSD.
- It also directs them to implement a joint electronic health record so critical medical records are not lost as our wounded troops move from battlefield doctors to medical holds and on to the VA.
- And that it requires the military to adopt the VA's policy that an injury is service-connected when our heroes – who were healthy prior to service - have spent 6 months or more in active duty
We need to meet our service members' needs from the day they're recruited to the day they transition home. The Wounded Warriors Act does just that.
Our service members have always answered the call of duty, but for too long our government has not answered theirs. I am proud to say those days are over.
From the supplemental bill, to the Wounded Warriors Act and the funding bill set to pass today, this Congress is answering its duty. And on Flag Day, it is clear we are honoring the ideals our Stars and Stripes represent.