U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs RSS 2.0 Feed http://veterans.senate.gov/ This RSS feed contains the most recent Veterans Affairs Press Releases Mon, 11 Feb 2013 00:02:00 GMT en-us Sanders Statement on Navy SEAL on Osama bin Laden Mission Caught in VA Backlog http://veterans.senate.gov/press-releases.cfm?action=release.display&release_id=2ec6897f-1590-4781-a8b7-7053c8b801e9 Mon, 11 Feb 2013 00:02:00 GMT <p>WASHINGTON, Feb. 11 &ndash; <em>Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans&rsquo; Affairs,</em> <em>today issued the following statement on a report by the Center for Investigative Reporting that the Navy SEAL who says he killed Osama bin Laden has a disability claim, like nearly 900,000 other veterans, that is stuck in a VA backlog</em>:</p><p>&ldquo;It is simply not acceptable for any veteran to wait many months or years for the benefits that they are entitled to receive. This is a priority for the Senate Committee on Veterans&rsquo; Affairs. We will do everything we can to make sure that a broken claims system is fixed.&nbsp; In fact, we will be holding a hearing next month on this important issue.&rdquo;</p> Senate and House Veterans' Committee Leaders Fault VA and DoD on Integrated Health Record System http://veterans.senate.gov/press-releases.cfm?action=release.display&release_id=040590dd-156e-4cc6-860c-a3f7fe33e2eb Wed, 6 Feb 2013 00:02:00 GMT <p>WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 6 &ndash; The chairmen and ranking members of the Senate and House veterans&rsquo; committees today faulted the Pentagon and Department of Veterans Affairs for backing off plans to create a single computer system to integrate electronic medical records for troops and veterans. <br />&nbsp;<br />Senate Committee on Veterans&rsquo; Affairs Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said: &ldquo;I am deeply disappointed by the VA and Defense Department decision to back away from a commitment to develop and implement a truly integrated, single, electronic health record. President Obama charged the departments with creating a seamless system of integration so that service members transitioning from active duty to civilian life don&rsquo;t have to worry about whether their health records will be lost or their claims delayed.&nbsp; An integrated record would allow for a streamlined and timely claims process, faster decisions on benefits, less duplication in medical testing and more efficient, cost-effective treatment for both physical and mental health needs. Now more than ever we need greater cooperation between the departments to solve the serious challenges that continue to confront our service members and veterans.&nbsp; I will continue to work to achieve better coordination by the departments and to ensure that the needs of veterans are met.&rdquo;</p><p>House Committee on Veterans&rsquo; Affairs Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) said: &ldquo;The decision by DOD and VA to turn their backs on a truly integrated electronic health record system is deeply troubling. The need for a record system integrated across all DOD and VA components has been universally accepted for years, and until yesterday, both agencies have given us nothing but assurances they were working toward that goal. Previous attempts by DOD and VA to use disparate computer systems to produce universal electronic health records have failed, and unfortunately it appears they are repeating past mistakes. When DOD and VA take shortcuts, the veterans and service members under their care will be shortchanged.&rdquo;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <br />&nbsp; <br />Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C), the ranking member of the Senate committee, said: &ldquo;The fact that VA and DoD would reverse course on a plan they have been working towards for years that would create a coordinated electronic health record system between the two agencies is concerning and disappointing.&nbsp; I am concerned about what this means for our nation&rsquo;s service members and veterans, particularly those who will be transitioning from active duty service to civilian life in the near future.&nbsp; We owe it to our nation&rsquo;s defenders to do all we can to care for them and provide the most effective, efficient service we can, and coordination and communication between these two agencies is absolutely vital.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>Rep. Mike Michaud (D-Maine), ranking member of the House committee, said: &ldquo;This is a huge setback and completely unacceptable. For years we have been told by both agencies that progress was made and that things were on track.&nbsp; I&rsquo;m disappointed that our nation&rsquo;s two largest government agencies &ndash; one of which is the world&rsquo;s foremost developer of high-tech machines and cyber-systems &ndash; could not come together on something that would have been so beneficial to those that served. We have just witnessed hundreds of millions of dollars go down the drain.&rdquo;<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <br />###</p> Sanders Statement on Veterans Suicides http://veterans.senate.gov/press-releases.cfm?action=release.display&release_id=1c59b436-372e-4a05-9758-776714378e55 Fri, 1 Feb 2013 00:02:00 GMT <p>WASHINGTON, Feb. 1 &ndash; <em>Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans&rsquo; Affairs, issued the following statement today on a Department of Veterans Affairs report on veteran suicides:</em></p><p>&ldquo;The suicide level for veterans is unacceptable.&nbsp; What we&rsquo;re seeing is an extraordinary tragedy which speaks to the horror of war and the need for us to do a much better job assisting our soldiers and their families after they return home.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;The Senate Veterans&rsquo; Affairs Committee will be working aggressively with the Department of Veterans Affairs to address this crisis.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p> Senators, Veterans, Seniors, Labor Unite in Opposition to Benefit Cuts for Seniors, Veterans http://veterans.senate.gov/press-releases.cfm?action=release.display&release_id=300d41b4-c47b-4994-b6e6-1a0114c65f17 Thu, 31 Jan 2013 00:01:00 GMT <p>WASHINGTON, Jan. 31 &ndash; Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was joined today by a growing coalition of seniors, veterans and labor organizations against changing the consumer price index to cut Social Security and disabled veterans&rsquo; benefits.</p><p>Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) also took part in the Capitol news conference. They were flanked by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka; AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond; Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America policy chief Tom Tarantino; National Organization for Women President Terry O&rsquo;Neill and The Arc of the United States CEO Peter Berns.</p><p>&ldquo;We are here today to tell the White House and the leadership in Congress: do not balance the budget on the backs of the elderly. Do not balance the budget on the backs of disabled veterans who have lost their arms, legs, and eyesight defending our country. Do not balance the budget on the backs of working families. Do not adopt the so-called chained-CPI,&rdquo; Sanders said.</p><p>&ldquo;My Republican friends and some Democrats have said that lowering cost-of-living adjustments through the adoption of a chained-CPI would be a &lsquo;minor tweak&rsquo; in benefits. But let&rsquo;s be clear: for millions of Americans the chained CPI is not a minor tweak.&nbsp; It is a significant benefit cut that will make it harder for the elderly, permanently disabled veterans, and working families to feed their families, heat their homes, pay for their prescription drugs, and make ends meet,&rdquo; added Sanders, chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans&rsquo; Affairs and founder of the Defending Social Security Caucus.&nbsp;</p><p>More than 55 million retirees, widows, orphans and disabled Americans on Social Security could be affected by the switch to a so-called chained CPI. According to the Social Security Administration, the change would result in $112 billion in reduced Social Security benefits over 10 years. The typical Social Security recipient who retires at age 65 would get $653 less a year at age 75 and would get $1,139 less a year at age 85 than under current law.</p><p>The proposed change in how annual cost-of-living adjustments are calculated also would mean that veterans who started receiving VA disability benefits at age 30 would have their benefits reduced by $1,425 at age 45, $2,341 at age 55 and $3,231 at age 65, according to the Congressional Budget Office.</p> Veterans Jobs Bill Introduced http://veterans.senate.gov/press-releases.cfm?action=release.display&release_id=5c20ba49-177b-4e8a-9899-d6875bfe625b Wed, 23 Jan 2013 00:01:00 GMT <p>WASHINGTON, Jan. 23 &ndash; Legislation to help veterans find jobs was introduced yesterday in a package of top-priority bills filed on the first legislative business day of the new session of Congress.</p><p>Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) introduced the Putting Our Veterans Back to Work Act of 2013 (S.6). Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the incoming chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans&rsquo; Affairs, co-sponsored the measure.</p><p>&ldquo;At a time when one in 10 post-9/11-era veterans are unemployed, this bill honors the sacrifice of the men and women who served in our armed forces by providing them with training to find jobs,&rdquo; Sanders said. &ldquo;The Veterans&rsquo; Affairs Committee will be looking very seriously at how to improve veterans&rsquo; employment and training programs,&rdquo; Sanders added.</p><p>The legislation would reauthorize training and employment services created by the VOW to Hire Heroes Act.</p><p>A new online employment resource would be established for veterans seeking information regarding employment and job-training resources.</p><p>At a time when 85 percent of law enforcement agencies experienced budget cuts, grants would be authorized for police and fire departments to train and hire veterans as first responders.</p><p>The heads of federal agencies would be directed to favorably consider contractors that employ a significant number of veterans on all contracts exceeding $25 million.</p><p>The measure also would allow federal agencies to suspend or debar contractors who repeatedly violate the employment rights of members of the uniformed services.&nbsp;</p> Murray Bill to Provide Fertility Treatment to Veterans Passes Senate http://veterans.senate.gov/press-releases.cfm?action=release.display&release_id=95fe9af7-69e1-41b4-8c78-3655e811a059 Thu, 13 Dec 2012 00:12:00 GMT <p>&nbsp;</p><p>Passage comes at a time when more servicemembers are suffering catastrophic injuries to reproductive organs<br />&nbsp;<br />WASHINGTON, D.C. &ndash; Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs&rsquo; Committee, passed her <a href="http://www.veterans.senate.gov/press-releases.cfm?action=release.display&amp;release_id=ad0e932e-2326-427e-9b74-3b79f0cecd1e"><span style="color: #006600;"><strong>Women Veterans and Other Health Care Improvement Act of 2012</strong></span></a>, through the U.S. Senate by <strong>unanimous consent</strong>. Murray&rsquo;s bill builds upon previous law to improve VA services for women veterans and veterans with families and <strong>ends the ban on in vitro fertilization (IVF) services at VA</strong> to help severely wounded veterans start families. After passing the Senate, the bill will now move on to the House of Representatives where Rep. Rick Larsen has introduced a companion version of the bill (H.R.6527).</p><p><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Senator Murray made the following statement after the bill passed the Senate:</span></strong></p><p><em><strong>&ldquo;This is a major victory for veterans and their spouses, and for their dreams of starting a family. This bill will give veterans that have suffered catastrophic reproductive injuries the ability to access In Vitro Fertilization without having to pay tens of thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs. It also brings the VA in line with what military families are offered.&nbsp; </strong></em></p><p><em><strong>&ldquo;Providing this service is a cost of war and part of the commitment we make to care for our servicemembers and veterans when they return home. I&rsquo;m hopeful that now that this bill has passed the Senate without a single objection the House can also move forward and pass the bill before the end of this year. There is absolutely no reason we should make these veterans, who have sacrificed so much, wait any longer to be able to realize their dreams of starting or growing their families.&rdquo;</strong></em></p><p>Earlier, today Senator Murray delivered the following remarks before calling for the Senate to pass the bill by unanimous consent. During her speech, Tracy Keil, whose story is described in Murray&rsquo;s speech watched from the Senate Gallery.</p><p><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Senator Murray&rsquo;s floor remarks:</span></strong></p><p><em>Thank you, M. President.</em></p><p><em>I come to the floor today to request unanimous consent for S. 3313, the Women Veterans and Other Health Care Improvement Act of 2012, which is unanimously supported by the Members of the Veterans&rsquo; Affairs Committee.</em></p><p><em>M. President, this legislation not only builds upon previous laws to improve VA services for women veterans and veterans with families -- </em></p><p><em>But it also brings a new focus to the need for VA to do more to help women veterans and the spouses of male veterans access assistance for one of the most impactful and serious wounds of these wars - reproductive and urinary tract trauma.</em></p><p><em>As many of you know, the nature of the current conflict and the use of improvised explosive devices leaves servicemembers far more susceptible to these injuries. </em></p><p><em>In fact, <strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Army data shows that between 2003 and 2011 nearly 2,000 servicemembers have suffered these battle injuries.</span> </strong></em></p><p><em>Like so many of our veterans, these men and women come home looking to return to their lives, to find employment, and so often to start a family. </em></p><p><em>Yet what they find when they go to the VA is that the fertility services available don&rsquo;t meet their complex needs. </em></p><p><em>In fact, veterans suffering from these injuries find that the VA is specifically barred from providing more advanced assisted reproduction techniques such as In Vitro Fertilization &ndash; or IVF</em></p><p><em>They are told that despite the fact they have made such an extreme sacrifice for our nation we cannot provide them with the medical services they need to start a family. </em></p><p><em>Veterans like Staff Sergeant Matt Keil &ndash; and his wife Tracy, who is here with us today. </em></p><p><em>Staff Sergeant Keil was shot in the neck while on patrol in Ramadi, Iraq on February 24th 2007, just 6 weeks after he married the love of his life &ndash; Tracy. </em></p><p><em>The bullet went through the right side of his neck, hit a major artery, went through his spinal cord, and exited through his left shoulder blade. </em></p><p><em>Staff Sergeant Keil instantly became a quadriplegic. </em></p><p><em>Doctors informed Tracy her husband would be on a ventilator for the rest of his life, and would never move his arms or legs.</em></p><p><em>Staff Sergeant Keil eventually defied the odds and found himself off the ventilator and beginning a long journey of physical rehabilitation.</em></p><p><em>Around that same time, Tracy and her husband started exploring the possibilities of starting a family together.</em></p><p><em>Having children was all they could talk about, once they adjusted to their new normal.</em></p><p><em>With Staff Sergeant Keil&rsquo;s injuries preventing him from having children naturally, Tracy turned to the VA for assistance and began to explore her options for fertility treatments. </em></p><p><em>Feeling defeated after being told the VA had no such programs in place for her situation, Tracy and Staff Sergeant Keil decided to pursue IVF through the private sector. </em></p><p><em>While they were anxious to begin this chapter of their lives, they were confronted with the reality that Tricare did not cover any of the costs related to Tracy&rsquo;s treatments -- because she did not have fertility issues beyond her husband&rsquo;s injury.</em></p><p><em>Left with no further options, the Keil&rsquo;s decided this was important enough to them that they were willing to pay out-of-pocket &ndash; to the tune of almost $32,000 per round of treatment.</em></p><p><em>Thankfully, on November 9, 2010, just after their first round of IVF, Staff Sergeant Keil and Tracy welcomed their twins Matthew and Faith into the world. </em></p><p><em>Tracy told me, </em></p><p><em>&ldquo;The day we had our children something changed in both of us. This is exactly what we had always wanted, our dreams had arrived. </em></p><p><em>&ldquo;The VA, Congress and the American People have said countless times that they want to do everything they can to support my husband or make him feel whole again and this is your chance. </em></p><p><em>&ldquo;Having a family is exactly what we needed to feel whole again. Please help us make these changes so that other families can share in this experience.&rdquo;</em></p><p><em>I have heard from these severely injured veterans and while the details of these stories vary, the common thread that runs through them all is that these veterans were unable to obtain the type of assistance they need.&nbsp; </em></p><p><em>Some have spent tens of thousands of dollars in the private sector &ndash; like Tracy and her husband -- to get the advanced reproductive treatments they need to start a family.&nbsp; </em></p><p><em>Others have watched their marriages dissolve because the stress of infertility, in combination with the stresses of readjusting to life after severe injury, drove their relationship to a breaking point. </em></p><p><em>Any servicemember who sustains this type of serious injury deserves so much more.</em></p><p><em>The bill I am here asking to pass today will give VA broad authority to offer advanced fertility treatments to the most severely wounded veterans, their spouses, or surrogates.&nbsp; </em></p><p><em>It also gives VA the authority to determine how best to offer these benefits. </em></p><p><em>It reverses this troubling barrier to care and will bring the VA in line with the military which provides these services to this same groups of servicemembers.</em></p><p><em>This is common sense legislation that we should pass without delay.</em></p><p><em>In fact, the NY Times recently ran an editorial on this bill and said, </em></p><p><em>&ldquo;In more than a decade of combat overseas, the military and V.A. have continually had to adjust to the challenges of new traumas with new treatments, as with the epidemic of brain injuries and post-traumatic stress. Adapting the V.A. health system to better meet reproductive-health needs should be part of that response. It is one compassionate way to fulfill the country&rsquo;s duty to wounded veterans.&rdquo;</em></p><p><em>They also noted that <span style="text-decoration: underline;">even this Congress</span> should be capable of a bipartisan agreement to pass it.</em></p><p><em>M. President, I couldn&rsquo;t agree more. </em></p><p><em>And I can&rsquo;t think of any reason why all Republicans and Democrats wouldn&rsquo;t join us today. </em></p><p><em>This is about giving veterans who have sacrificed everything -- every option <span style="text-decoration: underline;">we have</span> to help them fulfill the simple dream of starting a family. </em></p><p><em>It says that we are not turning our back on the catastrophic reproductive wounds that have become a signature of these wars. </em></p><p><em>It says to all those brave men and women that didn&rsquo;t ask questions when they were put in harm&rsquo;s way, that we won&rsquo;t let politics get in the way of our commitment to you. </em></p><p><em>M. President, we can&rsquo;t let this bill get bogged down in the obstruction that has become typical of this body. </em></p><p><em>This is too important to delay with procedural tactics. </em></p><p><em>The VA has an obligation to care for the combat wounded. </em></p><p><em>That should include access to the care they need.</em></p><p><em>And our women veterans deserve this, our male veterans deserve this, and our military and veteran families deserve this. </em></p><p><em>Thank you M. President.</em></p><p><em>I&rsquo;d now like to offer a unanimous consent request for passage of S. 3313, the Women Veterans and Other Health Care Improvement Act of 2012.<br /></em>&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: center;">###</p> Chairman Murray Statement on Decline in Homeless Veterans Population http://veterans.senate.gov/press-releases.cfm?action=release.display&release_id=22f636d7-b57e-456b-99c6-09ebff989fc8 Mon, 10 Dec 2012 00:12:00 GMT <p><br />WASHINGTON, D.C.&nbsp; &ndash; Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans&rsquo; Affairs Committee and the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD), made the following statement after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, released the <a href="http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/press/press_releases_media_advisories/2012/HUDNo.12-191"><strong><span style="color: #888888;"><span style="background-color: #888888;"><span style="color: #006600;"><span style="background-color: #ffffff;">2012 Annual Homelessness Assessment Report (AHAR).&nbsp; </span></span></span></span></strong></a>The report showed a 7.2 percent decline in veterans homelessness since 2011 and a 17.2 decline since 2009. However, the report also details a 1.4 percent increase among persons in families.</p><p style="text-align: left;"><em>&ldquo;Those who heroically served America in the military should not find themselves struggling to find a bed to sleep in or a meal to eat,&rdquo;</em> <strong>said Chairman Murray.</strong><em> &ldquo;With new servicemembers returning home every day and the economy on the road to recovery, it is critically important to continue supporting programs like HUD-VASH and SSVF. I am grateful for the progress we have seen, because these programs have been working. However; I am deeply concerned about the data indicating an increase in homeless families. I firmly believe the success of our nation&rsquo;s families and the future of our economy are rooted in the investments we make in basic necessities like education and housing. And I remain committed to providing America&rsquo;s families and veterans with the sense of security and dignity they all deserve.&rdquo;</em></p><p style="text-align: center;">###</p> Sen. Murray Calls on Secretary Panetta to Provide Timeline for Promised Military Review of PTSD and Behavioral Health Diagnoses http://veterans.senate.gov/press-releases.cfm?action=release.display&release_id=7853ac27-f78e-4f0f-836c-9a23aaa2846d Thu, 18 Oct 2012 00:10:00 GMT <p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>(Washington D.C.) &ndash; Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans&rsquo; Affairs Committee, sent a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta requesting next steps and a timeline for the execution of a critical military-wide review of PTSD and behavioral health diagnoses made since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began. The review, which Secretary Panetta promised following the<a href="http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2017801388_ptsd21.html"> misdiagnoses of servicemembers at Joint Base Lewis-McChord</a> in Washington state, has seemingly stalled <a href="http://www.murray.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/newsreleases?ContentRecord_id=bda94e7b-7251-4e27-95b5-51da4dfa04e4">since being announced on June 13th.</a>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>&ldquo;The Department must act with a sense of urgency in order to complete this review and to act on its findings in coordinating with other ongoing efforts to improve the disability evaluation system.&rdquo;</em> Murray wrote to Panetta. <em>&ldquo;Each of these efforts is vital in ensuring servicemembers truly have a transparent, consistent, and expeditious disability evaluation process.&rdquo; </em>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Senator Murray&rsquo;s letter also addressed her concerns that records for military units in Iraq and Afghanistan, which are often used to provide information on potential health and exposure issues be carefully identified, located, and collected.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em><strong>The full text of Senator Murray&rsquo;s letter follows:</strong></em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>October 18, 2012</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>The Honorable Leon E. Panetta</p><p>Secretary of Defense</p><p>1000 Defense Pentagon</p><p>Washington, DC &nbsp;20301</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Dear Secretary Panetta: &nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>I am writing to express my concern about two distinct issues, which taken together impact the disability evaluation process for servicemembers and veterans. &nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>At the outset, I very much appreciate your ongoing efforts to address behavioral health diagnoses and care both within the Integrated Disability Evaluation System and throughout the Department at large. &nbsp;In June, as part of this ongoing effort, you announced a comprehensive Department-wide review of mental health diagnoses. &nbsp;Shortly after the announcement, I had the opportunity to meet with Under Secretary Conaton to discuss some of the initial steps the Department had taken in preparation for this review. &nbsp;However, it appears that progress on this effort may have stalled. &nbsp;I am writing today to request the Department&rsquo;s next steps and timeline for execution of this review. &nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>The Department must act with a sense of urgency in order to complete this review and to act on its findings in coordinating with other ongoing efforts to improve the disability evaluation system. &nbsp;Each of these efforts is vital in ensuring servicemembers truly have a transparent, consistent, and expeditious disability evaluation process. &nbsp; &nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>My second concern relates to the ability of the Department, and specifically the Army, to identify and account for many records for units that served in Iraq and Afghanistan. &nbsp;The lack of access to documentation of the locations and functions of specific military units interferes with the ability of both servicemembers and veterans to obtain evidence of military service that may result in adverse health conditions now or in the future. &nbsp;As we have learned from prior conflicts, this lack of documentation all too often leads to hardship for veterans in establishing a relationship between military service and a specific medical condition. &nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>The lack of accessible documents may also impede future research efforts if health care problems arise from service in Iraq or Afghanistan. &nbsp;For these reasons, I would like to know the current status of efforts to identify, locate and collect records for units that served in Iraq and Afghanistan. &nbsp;I also urge you to take all necessary steps to ensure unit records are properly archived and accessible. &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>I appreciate your attention to these requests and look forward to our continued work together to strengthen both the disability evaluation system and behavioral health diagnoses and care and to ensure our servicemembers and veterans have access to critical military documents. &nbsp; &nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Sincerely,</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Patty Murray</p><p>Chairman</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>###</p><div></div></p> Chairman Murray's Statement on IG Report Detailing Waste at VA Conferences http://veterans.senate.gov/press-releases.cfm?action=release.display&release_id=81235f5e-1675-4ef3-bf11-7fe3cacae351 Mon, 1 Oct 2012 00:10:00 GMT <p>&nbsp;</p><p>(Washington, D.C.) &ndash; Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans&rsquo; Affairs Committee, released the following statement after the Office of Inspector General at the Department of Veterans Affairs released a report on their investigation into two conferences in Orlando run by VA&rsquo;s Office of Human Resources and Administration.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>&ldquo;I am deeply dismayed by what the Office of Inspector General has found regarding these conferences. &nbsp;The blatant waste of taxpayer dollars and government employees improperly accepting gifts cannot, and will not, be tolerated.</em></p><p><em><br /></em></p><p><em>&ldquo;The IG report highlights failures in areas that have continually been problems for VA, including contracting and human resources. &nbsp;I expect the Department to act quickly to address these longstanding shortcomings.&rdquo;&nbsp;</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: center;">###</p><p>&nbsp;</p> Mystery Republican Blocks Cost of Living Adjustment for Disabled Veterans http://veterans.senate.gov/press-releases.cfm?action=release.display&release_id=be4c4436-486b-47ec-a585-b63b66228669 Thu, 27 Sep 2012 00:09:00 GMT <p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>(Washington, D.C.) &ndash; Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veteran&rsquo;s Affairs Committee, announced that an as yet unnamed Senate Republican has blocked a traditionally non-controversial bill that would provide over 3.9 million veterans and their survivors with a Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) for the benefits they receive. The COLA increase, which is designed to offset inflation and other factors that lead to the rising cost of living, was brought to the Senate floor by Senator Murray last Thursday. The bill was cleared by all Senate Democrats but was blocked by at least one Senate Republican that has not come forward to claim responsibility.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;This is stunning&rdquo; said Senator Murray. &ldquo;Particularly because we still don&rsquo;t have any indication why someone would block a cost-of-living adjustment for veterans and their surviving spouses, many of whom are struggling to make ends meet. This adjustment for our disabled veterans is hard earned and well deserved. My hope is that whichever Senator has decided to hold up this bill will at least come forward to own up to it. That way we can move forward to overcome their oppositions and get our veterans the support they need.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>The Veterans COLA will affect several important benefits, including veterans&rsquo; disability compensation and dependency and indemnity compensation for surviving spouses and children. The COLA rate will match the annual increase provided to Social Security recipients and is based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index.&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: center;">###</p><div></div></p>