10.17.07

Sen. Burr Commits to Working on VA Reform Proposals

Veteran services and benefits in need of improvement; Panels offer recommendations

(Washington, DC) U.S. Senator Richard Burr, the top Republican on the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, welcomed recommendations made to the Committee today by organizations on improvements to veteran services and benefits.

"I am committed to working with Senator Akaka and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to improve life for our nation's heroes," said Burr.

The North Carolina Republican made his comments at a hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs. Its members gathered on Wednesday to review a variety of changes for veterans proposed by four different organizations, including the Presidential Commission led by retired U.S. Senator Bob Dole and former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala, who testified at the hearing.

During the hearing, Burr mentioned the Dole-Shalala Commission has reported that the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense have already begun implementing 90 percent of the Commission's recommendations.

The remaining 10 percent of the Commission's recommendations remain as "the hard part" Burr noted.

"Today's all-volunteer force knows that injury, even serious injury, need not be an impediment to continuing on with a productive, fulfilling life," Burr said. "Our job is to give these brave men and women the tools they need and to remove the stumbling blocks in their way. In fact, they demand that from their government. The challenges facing many veterans today have as much to do with confusing, bureaucratic programs operated by many different offices of the government, as they do with the lack of benefit programs or the lack of resources."

The Dole-Shalala Commission's recent report noted that overall spending on veterans and servicemembers has doubled in the past decade. The total cost of these benefits was well over $127 billion in 2006.