As the Ranking Member on the Veterans Affairs and Military Construction Appropriations Subcommittee, I have been dealing with the issues of funding for veterans but also trying to make sure that we have the seamless transition in veterans care. It was reported by Bob Dole and Secretary Donna E. Shalala on Wednesday October 18th, that there are issues suggesting that we have the rapid transfer of patient information between DOD and VA. I do want to say that this is something where the VA is really leading.

We have state of the art electronic medical records in the VA system. It was never brought home better more than after Katrina in New Orleans when the whole Veterans hospital had to be vacated and not one record was lost. Not one. So our veterans in New Orleans got superb treatment wherever they were, wherever they evacuated. That is a testament to the system.

Of the 155 VA hospitals, every one is set with the electronic records, so we know there is a system that works. The anecdotal information that we get is phenomenal.

In Houston for instance, I was called because our veterans who were injured and therefore retired with disabilities were waiting months and even almost a year for their disability benefits in Houston. So, we immediately went to the VA and they tasked people to go down and try to fix that hiatus because we just didn’t have enough people processing. I know that because the VA system is so good, if we put our minds to it and we take the direction and bring the DOD up to the same standards so that people can have a seamless transition, everyone will be ahead. It is inexcusable for someone injured in Iraq or Afghanistan to go on medical disability and not get their benefits for 3 to 9 or 10 months. It’s just inexcusable.