|3:32 PM EDT||
Sheila Jackson-Lee, D-TX 18th
Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Chairman, let me offer my appreciation to the full Committee on Appropriations, both the chairman and ranking member, and to this subcommittee. I've seen enormous commitment to bipartisanship between Mr. Edwards and, of course, Mr. Wicker. But my good colleague and friend from Texas has outdone himself, and this particular veterans appropriation, the Military Construction Veterans Affairs appropriation, signifies nothing but joy for Americans and
veterans all across this country.
Might I just cite the fact that this bill moves above the President's budget in medical services, making it $28.9 billion; moves above the President's request on homeless vets, $130 million; moves above the President's request on medical facilities, $4.1 billion; and moves above it on extended care facilities, $165 million.
Many of us have risen to the floor today to talk about post-traumatic stress. I just wanted to remind my colleagues of the kind of horror and nightmare that many of our soldiers and returning soldiers and veterans live with, suffering from PTSD. It is simply to acknowledge the fact that over and over again you relive the tragedy of the experience, whether it's small arms fire, whether it's IEDs, whether it's seeing your comrade fall in battle in front of you, whether it's seeing his body implode,
you know that you're reliving it, and the number one basis of PTSD is military and combat exposure.
Just for the record, let me acknowledge that 94 percent of the soldiers in Iraq reported receiving small arms fire; 86 percent of soldiers in Iraq reported knowing someone who was seriously injured or killed. This is a major issue and it is a major part of the lives of our soldiers.
Mr. Chairman, my amendment simply was to do this: It was to provide more medical centers in places like rural areas or small cities to be able to be utilized for PTSD. I know Chairman Edwards knows this issue because it was his leadership that generated the change of the Waco veterans hospital into a mental health facility. I want that to continue to stand, and I want to thank him for the increased dollars he's put in for PTSD.
But, Mr. Chairman, I have a veterans advisory committee that's indicated that we need centers around the Nation, smaller centers maybe in small hospitals, that would respond to veterans and returning soldiers, maybe even to the extent of reimbursing them by being in those particular centers.
Let me close by simply saying that this bill is comprehensive. I look forward to working with the chairman on more permanent housing for the disabled, as we work toward more PTSD facilities, even though we have a great amount of resources here, more adjusted housing, if you will, for those who are coming back so they're not living alone.
I want to take special privilege to acknowledge the DeGeorge in my community for my homeless vets, a facility for homeless vets, DeGeorge at Union Station and U.S. Vets. All of them confront veterans and returning soldiers with PTSD. If we expand these facilities so that rural and small cities and even inner city areas, which is what my amendment is focused on, everybody would have the opportunity to be able to access help with PTSD.
I would ask my colleagues to consider as we move toward conference to be able to work on this issue in an expanded way.