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Pelosi Remarks at Press Conference on Veterans' Disability Backlog

Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks at a press conference highlighting the unacceptable backlog of disability claims at the Department of Veteran’s Affairs and expressed appreciation to our nation’s veterans for their service and sacrifice to our country.  Below are the Leader’s remarks:

“Thank you very much, Congressman Michaud, Ranking Member on the Veteran’s Affairs Committee, for your kind words, for your tremendous leadership, for your dedication, your dedication to America’s veterans.  I’m so pleased to be here with Congresswoman Dina Titus, with Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick, with Congressman Mark Takano, and with Congressman Beto O’Rourke – Members of the Veterans Affairs Committee.  I’m also honored to be here with some of the representatives, some of our veteran service organizations.

“What Congressman Michaud talked about were initiatives that sprang from the needs of our veterans, the ideas of our veteran service organizations, and the prospects for success that we could achieve in the shortest period of time.  Thank you to the veteran service organizations.  You have heard some of these suggestions.  We vetted them with you.  You have been an important part of holding the standard high, establishing priorities – because our veterans have many needs and we have to prioritize – and this is the result of that.

“As we approach Memorial Day, the challenge to our conscience of that – meeting the needs of our veterans is heightened.  It is with us every day.  But it’s heightened on Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day, and other times of the year.  As we say in our meetings all the time on the battlefield, the military says: ‘on the battlefield, we will leave no soldier behind.’  And all of us say together, in a bi-partisan way: ‘and when they come home, we will leave no veteran behind.’  And so, it is in that spirit that this backlog is a challenge to the conscience of our country, go back a dozen years, we never thought that we would have a million plus more veterans in need of benefits.  So, it’s hard to get a running start on a war that we didn’t know that we were going into and over a million more veterans that we might have already had.

“But, that is the fact.  That is our responsibility.  And again, on Memorial Day, we will join the rest of the country, in a public display of our appreciation for their service and their sacrifice, and a public display of commitment to the better future for our vets when they come home. 

“Right now, here today, we want to present some tangible approaches, as Mr. Michaud pointed out.  Again, when we’re in a meeting – I think our veteran service organization representatives here will say that his demonstration of knowledge, of judgment, of commitment to our veterans is heartwarming, but better than that, very encouraging for us to reach our goals.

“Joining him on the committee to help meet the needs of our vets is a distinguished Congresswoman from Nevada, Congresswoman Dina Titus.  She is a staunch supporter for veterans blessed with large contingent of them in her district, she knows of what she speaks of.  I’m pleased to yield to her.”