“The cornerstone at the Department of Veterans Affairs from the time of Abraham Lincoln has read: ‘To care for them who shall have borne the battle, their widows, and their orphans.’ Why can this Administration not keep that promise?
“Veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, and the World War II, Korean, Vietnam, and Persian Gulf War vets who served in years past are lined up, waiting to get into the VA health care system. We know we need additional funds for veterans’ health care. We seem to be able to find money for everything else, yet the Administration cannot get it right, or does not want to get it right on veterans care.
“Democrats in Congress have worked to secure expanded health benefits to veterans, guardsmen and reservists, by supporting increases in hardship benefits, imminent danger pay, the elimination of out-of-pocket housing expenses, and family separation allowance. We will not stop fighting until our veterans get the benefits they have earned.”
Kaptur is a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee and until last year, when she was elected to the coveted House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, has consistently served on the Veterans’ committees. Her bill to create the National World War II Memorial, a 17-year effort from start to finish, was dedicated in 2004.
Data from the Department of Veterans Affairs indicates that the VA turned away nearly 10,000 Ohio veterans who applied for VA health care in FY 2005 due to the Administration’s enrollment ban. Congresswoman Kaptur said she is concerned that the number of veterans shut out of VA health care is considerably larger because veterans are discouraged from even applying for care.
State-by-state impact of enrollment ban in FY 2005
Number of veterans in each state and territory who applied for VA-provided health care and who were refused enrollment in FY 2005 because of the Administration's decision to bar access for new Priority 8 veterans.
Virgin Islands 1,059
Unknown/ Other Territory 793
Editor’s Note: A new priority 8 veteran does not receive a monetary VA benefit for a service-connected disability; has an income that is above the established national and geographic threshold; and, applied for enrollment after January 17, 2003. In 2005, the national income means threshold for a single veteran was $25,842. The geographic means threshold for 2005 by state and county can be found at the VA’s Web site at http://www.va.gov/healtheligibility/costs/docs/GMT_Income_Thresholds_2004.pdf. Data from the Department of Veterans Affairs.