The Waiting List for Veterans Just Got Longer

The VA is overwhelmed and underfunded, but this week Congress decided not to provide the extra help our veterans need. Some veterans have to wait more than a year for care. Others are waiting 18 months for their benefits. Recently, a VA official said that care for mental health and substance abuse is "virtually inaccessible" (see http://murray.senate.gov/news.cfm?id=256085) due to long waiting lists.

Veterans deserve better. But this week Congress passed an emergency supplemental that left out the funding we secured in the Senate to help our veterans. In April, the Akaka-Murray Amendment [ http://murray.senate.gov/news.cfm?id=254786 ] passed the Senate with bipartisan support (84-13). But then our funding was stripped out of the final bill under pressure from the White House. Last week, when the conference met, I tried to reinstate that funding, but Senators defeated my effort on a party line vote. (15-13)

My dad was a disabled World War II veteran. When I was in college, I volunteered in the psychiatric ward at a VA hospital. I've seen how important VA care is. With a new generation of veterans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan, I know they're not going to get the care they need unless Congress and the White House provide the resources.

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