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S. HRG. 107–786

PENDING LEGISLATION

HEARING

BEFORE THE

COMMITTEE ON VETERANS' AFFAIRS

UNITED STATES SENATE

ONE HUNDRED SEVENTH CONGRESS

SECOND SESSION

MAY 2, 2002

Printed for the use of the Committee on Veterans Affairs

U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE

WASHINGTON : 2003

83–181 PDF

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COMMITTEE ON VETERANS AFFAIRS

JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER IV, West Virginia, Chairman
BOB GRAHAM, Florida

ARLEN SPECTER, Pennsylvania
JAMES M. JEFFORDS (I), Vermont

STROM THURMOND, South Carolina
DANIEL K. AKAKA, Hawaii

FRANK H. MURKOWSKI, Alaska
PAUL WELLSTONE, Minnesota

BEN NIGHTHORSE CAMPBELL, Colorado
PATTY MURRAY, Washington

LARRY E. CRAIG, Idaho
ZELL MILLER, Georgia

TIM HUTCHINSON, Arkansas
E. BENJAMIN NELSON, Nebraska

KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON, Texas
WILLIAM E. BREW, Chief Counsel
WILLIAM F. TUERK, Minority Chief Counsel and Staff Director

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Nelson, Hon. Bill, U.S. Senator from Florida

Prepared statement

Rockefeller, Hon. John D. IV, U.S. Senator from West Virginia, prepared

statement

Specter, Hon. Arlen, U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania, prepared statement

Wellstone, Hon. Paul, U.S. Senator from Minnesota, prepared statement

WITNESSES

Cullinan, Dennis, Director, National Legislative Service, Veterans of Foreign

Wars

Prepared statement

Fischl, James R., Director, National Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Com-

mission, The American Legion

Prepared statement

McClain, Tim, General Counsel, Department of Veterans Affairs, accompanied

by Frances M. Murphy, M.D., Deputy Under Secretary for Health, Veterans

Health Administration; Robert Epley, Associate Deputy Under Secretary

for Policy and Program Management, Veterans Benefits Administration;

John (Jack] Thompson, Deputy General Counsel; Claude [Mick] Kicklighter,

Assistant Secretary for Policy and Planning/Acting Director, Office of Oper-

ations, Security and Preparedness; and Vince Barile, Deputy Under Sec-

retary for Management, National Cemetery Administration

Prepared statement

Response to written questions submitted by Hon. Daniel K. Akaka

Tucker, David, Senior Associate Legislative Director, Paralyzed Veterans of

America

Prepared statement

Violante, Joseph A., National Legislative Director of the Disabled American

Veterans

Prepared statement

APPENDIX

Enzi, Hon. Michael B., U.S. Senator from Wyoming, prepared statement

McKee, Thomas J., National Chairman of the Board, Air Force Association,

letter dated May 1, 2002, to Hon. John D. Rockefeller IV

Miller, Thomas H., Executive Director, Blinded Veterans Association, pre-

pared statement

National Association of Veterans' Research and Education Foundations

(NAVREF), prepared statement

Wildhaber, Michael E., Vice President, National Organization of Veterans'

Advocates (NOVA), letter dated May 15, 2002, to Hon. John D. Rockefeller
IV

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(III)

PENDING LEGISLATION

THURSDAY, MAY 2, 2002

U.S. SENATE,
COMMITTEE ON THE VETERANS' AFFAIRS,

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

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