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Swift Action Urged to Cover Veterans Budget Shortfall

WASHINGTON—The Disabled American Veterans (DAV) is calling on Congress to act quickly to cover a critical shortfall in funding for veterans health care for the current fiscal year and make sure the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has the resources it needs in future.

Following the disclosure yesterday by the VA that the agency faces a $1 billion shortfall this year, DAV National Commander James E. Sursely said, “Congress and the Administration must make veterans a top priority and fully fund medical care and other programs, which are a continuing cost of national defense.”

The DAV raised the alarm earlier this year noting that VA medical facilities across the country were running out of money and face huge deficits. In April, the organization expressed its bitter disappointment that the United States Senate blocked an amendment to the $80 billion supplemental appropriation bill that would have provided $2 billion to cover the critical shortfall in funding for veterans medical care.

“Congress must now act quickly to stem the flow of red ink that threatens health care for today’s veterans and thousands of men and women injured and disabled during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Commander Sursely.

Under legislation passed by the House, the VA would receive a total of $68.1 billion in fiscal year 2006. VA health care funding would be $28.8 billion. The Senate has yet to act on a bill funding the VA.

“The DAV and other major veterans service organizations are united in calling on Congress to provide $31.2 billion for veterans medical care next year,” said Commander Sursely.

“VA facilities in every region of the country have exhausted reserve funds to meet critical needs. Many have stopped hiring doctors and nurses because of shortfalls, while still others have cut back or even eliminated medical services. Health care for millions of today’s and tomorrow’s veterans is in limbo because Congress and the Administration have continually failed to adequately fund the VA,” Sursely said.

The 1.2 million-member Disabled American Veterans, a non-profit organization founded in 1920 and chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1932, represents this nation’s disabled veterans. It is dedicated to a single purpose: building better lives for our nation’s disabled veterans and their families. For more information, visit the organization’s Web site

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