News Releases

6 National Veterans Organizations Urge the Senate to Pass Senator Murray's Veterans Healthcare Amendment Today

Apr 12 2005

With Vote Looming, Murray Says Veterans Healthcare is an Emergency

Update: Vote Fails

(Washington, D.C.) – As the U.S. Senate prepares to vote today on Senator Patty Murray's amendment to increase veterans' healthcare by $1.98 billion, six national veterans service organizations called on the United States Senate to pass the amendment.

Amendment Summary

Veterans groups supporting the Murray Amendment include:

  • Disabled American Veterans,
  • Paralyzed Veterans of America,
  • Veterans of Foreign Wars,
  • The Military Order of the Purple Heart
  • and the American Legion.

In addition, VA employees have endorsed the Murray Amendment though the American Federation of Federal Government employees, which represents 150,000 workers at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Speaking on the Senate floor today, Senator Murray called the lack of veterans health care an emergency.

"The VA is having trouble taking care of the patients it has today. It is certainly not prepared to handle a new influx of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of these VA centers are in the hole for millions of dollars. They are not in a position to begin expanding care to meet the growing need," Murray said. "They can't do it alone, so we've got to step in and help them out."

Senator Murray's Full Speech

The four veterans groups that write the annual Independent Budget sent a letter to all Senators on April 6th, calling for passage of the Murray amendment.

"We are writing to express our support for the proposed Murray-Akaka amendment to the FY 2005 Emergency Supplemental that would provide $1.9 billion in much needed funding for veterans healthcare," wrote leaders of the four veterans organizations that developed the Independent Budget (AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America, and VFW). "We ask you to support this amendment and to provide the dollars needed for care for service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as all veterans who rely upon the VA to provide their healthcare."

In a separate letter today, the American Legion also endorsed the Murray Amendment.

"VA medical care is truly the ongoing cost of war. You have The American Legion's full support," wrote Steve Robertson, Director of the American Legion's National Legislative Commission. "VA is not meeting the health care needs of America's veterans. Currently, certain veterans are actually denied access to the VA health care system even though they are willing to make co-payments and have third-party health care insurance, while others face lengthy delays in accessing care. Although providing quality healthcare, VA cannot meet its own timely access standards simply because it lacks the health care professionals to meet the demand for services."

Veterans administration employees also support the Murray amendment. An April 11th letter from Beth Moten, Legislative and Political Director, American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO, notes:

"VA facilities are taking drastic actions to cope with budget shortfalls. VA hospitals across the nation are short-staffed, denying veterans medical care, unable to hire hospital staff and cannot replace broken or antiquated equipment because of 2005 budget shortfalls and inadequate funds to meet demand for care. VA officials may use euphemisms like “budget challenges” to describe budget deficits, “lagging in hiring” to describe hiring freezes or “management efficiencies” to describe diverting equipment and maintenance funds to cover a budget deficit but the reality of funding shortfalls across the nation is stark."

In addition, the Military Order of the Purple Heart has endorsed Senator Murray's amendment.

The Senate is expected to vote on a budget point of order at 3:30 pm today.