demanding emergency measures to rectify botching of Vetsí 2005
health care budget, $1 billion shortfall
WASHINGTON, June 24 /PRNewswire/
-- Yesterday's announcement that the Department of Veterans Affairs
had understated their 2005 health care budget needs by $1 billion
came as no surprise to the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United
"Senior VFW leaders were outspoken
in their efforts last year to tell the administration and Congress
that the 2005 VA budget was short, and now we have the VA admitting
that they can't properly perform their mission without robbing one
account to pay another," said John Furgess, the commander-in-chief
of the 2.4 million-member VFW and its Auxiliaries.
"One billion dollars is a huge
mistake, one that shows a lack of candor and accountability on the
VA's part, and one that does a tremendous disservice to military
veterans who, above all other citizens, are responsible for every
freedom we enjoy today," he said. "This is a mistake that never
should have happened. Now it'll take an emergency supplemental to
correct the mistake this year and possibly next."
Yesterday, the chairs of the House
and Senate Committees on Veterans Affairs expressed their anger over
the VA admission.
"The situation is unacceptable and
we will solve the problem," said Rep. Steve Buyer (R-Ind.).
Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho), in
referring to a phone conversation he had with VA Secretary Jim
Nicholson, said, "I am certain that he is going to take serious
steps to ensure that this type of episode is not repeated."
"We greatly appreciate the
congressman and senator's support and words, as well as those from
other committee members from both parties," said Furgess, "I want to
once again extend the VFW's offer to assist them in the creation of
a VA health care budget that fulfills a nation's promise to care for
the veterans of today and tomorrow."
The VFW assists all veterans and
their families obtain veterans' entitlements and other services. In
addition, the organization works for the well being of those serving
on active duty, in the National Guard and the Reserves. The VFW was
founded in 1899. It is the nation's largest combat veterans' group.