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S. HRG. 107–786
COMMITTEE ON VETERANS' AFFAIRS
UNITED STATES SENATE
ONE HUNDRED SEVENTH CONGRESS
MAY 2, 2002
Printed for the use of the Committee on Veterans Affairs
U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
WASHINGTON : 2003
For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office
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COMMITTEE ON VETERANS AFFAIRS
JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER IV, West Virginia, Chairman
ARLEN SPECTER, Pennsylvania
STROM THURMOND, South Carolina
FRANK H. MURKOWSKI, Alaska
BEN NIGHTHORSE CAMPBELL, Colorado
LARRY E. CRAIG, Idaho
TIM HUTCHINSON, Arkansas
KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON, Texas
Wildhaber, Michael E., Vice President, National Organization of Veterans'
Advocates (NOVA), letter dated May 15, 2002, to Hon. John D. Rockefeller
THURSDAY, MAY 2, 2002
Washington, DC. The committee met, pursuant to notice, at 9:40 a.m., in room SR418, Russell Senate Office Building, Hon. John D. Rockefeller IV (chairman of the committee) presiding. Present: Senators Rockefeller, Graham,
Graham, Jeffords, Akaka, Wellstone, Murray, Miller, Nelson, Specter, and Hutchinson.
Chairman ROCKEFELLER. Good morning, everybody. I apologize that once again Senator Nelson was so late. [Laughter.]
Do you want a minute to shoot me down on that one?
Senator NELSON. Mr. Chairman, I have not been here long enough to learn how to be late, but I am working on it.
Chairman ROCKEFELLER. OK. Well, that is a good shoot-down. Senator Akaka, I apologize.
We have got a ton of things to do and I want to talk about some of these things. We have got VA disasters, I mean, how VA handles disasters for the country. [Laughter.]
Yet we cannot also forget what we are about on a normal day at the Department of Veterans Affairs, which is serving our veterans.
This morning we are going to look at a lot of legislation, hear points of view about it, and this will not be a markup as such. The legislation, as far as I can see, covers almost every aspect of veterans' lives-from annual cost-of-living-adjustment for compensation, education benefits, to care and services for women's veterans, mental health care and research. I want to take my prerogative, so to speak, to highlight a couple of these.
A couple pieces of legislation recognize that the VA—which, as constantly needs to be said, is the Nation's largest integrated health care system can and must play a larger role in emergency preparedness. This is something I would think the VA would have mixed feelings about. In effect, you are being left out, by the way I read it, from the Ridge operation. That may be the way the world works, but that is not the way the world ought to work because you are basically better at Federal health care than anybody else.
You shared skilled caregivers and you supply help to overwhelmed communities on a regular basis. VA has been there for every single major domestic disaster of the last 20 years-Oklahoma City, Hurricane Andrew, Floyd, September 11th, everywhere you have been there. But most in Government, and most in public health, and most out there in the public, have no idea