The four largest veterans organizations in the country have united to upbraid the chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee for choosing not to participate in joint hearings with the panel’s Senate counterpart to hear from the groups about funding requests.
“It should not come as a surprise that the leadership of the undersigned VSOs is united in opposition of your decision to eliminate the Committee’s participation in joint hearings of the Veterans Affairs Committees,” states a letter from the groups to Rep. Steven Buyer, R-Ind. “While we have all at one time or another protested this unilateral decision, we now present unanimous displeasure at your decision in one unified voice.”
The letter notes that for over 50 years the veterans groups have been part of the debate on funding the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Write the leaders of the four organizations: “The fact that you have made a decision without consulting VSOs is on its face disrespectful to our organizations and our millions of volunteer members that live and advocate for their fellow veterans and their families all across this great nation. The fact that you continue not to listen could be considered, without resorting to too much speculation, hostile, and indeed we feel that you are being hostile in your dealings with VSOs. It is our hope that this letter will cause you to rethink your decision to shut America’s veterans out of the congressional debate for adequate VA funding.”
The groups called Buyer’s decision to hold separate hearings “an affront to the national leadership of the VSO community as well as all of America’s veterans.”
Traditionally, the groups have offered testimony about the needs of American vets at a joint committee hearing in September, before the president submits his budget to Congress.
“Usually we’ve had about an hour and a half” to testify, Thomas L. Bock, national commander of the American Legion, explained to WND.
“We’ve been right on target with what [veterans programs] cost,” Bock said.
Buyer’s committee alone heard testimony from veterans groups in February, when, Bock says, each organization’s spokesman was given just 10 minutes to speak, after first being offered three minutes.
“We’re talking about critical veterans issues here,” Bock noted.
The veterans groups believe moving the testimony to February lessens their influence in the budget process.
The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee has stuck with the traditional September timeframe for hearing from the organizations.
Talking about Buyer’s actions on the hearings, Bock said: “He’s is not winning friends and influencing veterans, I’ll tell you that.”
The letter is signed by Bock, James R. Mueller, commander in chief of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S., Edward W. Kemp, national commander of AMVETS, and Paul W. Jackson, national commander of Disabled American Veterans.
Bock emphasized the significance of all four organizations uniting by means of the letter.
“We’re standing firm. We all believe in taking care of our heroes,” said Bock.
As WorldNetDaily reported, last year two of the organizations voiced their disapproval to Buyer when he first announced the change of date for the House hearing from September to February.
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