WASHINGTON, D.C—Today, at a joint hearing of the House Veterans' Affairs and Armed Services Committees, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki, confirmed that under sequestration, VA would face cuts, possibly affecting the administration of veterans' benefits and services, stating, "VA is exempt from sequestration except for administrative costs… I don't have a definition of administrative costs right now."
"President Obama publicly said Monday at the VFW Convention that VA is exempt from sequestration, yet the Secretary conceded today that VA would face cuts early next year if a sequester takes place," stated Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs. "Since last August, I have been asking this question and until today, I have received nothing but double speak. I am now demanding that VA and the President define 'administrative costs.' Does this mean closing veterans' hospitals, fewer claims processors to help veterans with their disability compensation, longer wait times for veterans suffering from the invisible wounds of war or those having to bury a loved one, not to mention the possible impact on homeless veterans' programs and research to care for our wounded warriors? Congress, and more important, our veterans, deserve an honest, straight-forward answer."
In the first joint hearing of the two Committees in recent history, Members also addressed serious concerns that the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs were not working fast enough toward a seamless transition for servicemembers leaving the military. Secretary Shinseki noted that "over the next five years, there is the potential for one million serving men and women to either leave military service or demobilize from active duty," raising numerous questions on the already convoluted transition process for veterans.
---- Jerald Terwilliger Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans "We Remember" ---------------- "And so the greatest of American triumphs... became a peculiarly joyless victory. We had won the Cold War, but there would be no parades." -- Robert M. Gates, 1996