This morning's special joint hearing of the Senate and House committees on Veterans' Affairs is underway on Capitol Hill.
Chairman Akaka and Chairman Filner addressed a range of issues including the VA claims backlog, the Post 9/11 GI Bill, veterans' mental health, and advanced VA appropriations during their opening statements. The chairmen and both committee ranking memders, Sen. Burr and Rep. Buyer, thanked each VSO slated to testify for their hard work in service to our veterans.
Buyer discussed a new bipartisan bill he plans to introduce with Rep. Tim Walz of Minnesota that would provide equity in DIC compensation for surviving military widows. The landmark bill would finally provide equity for military widows, who currently receive 12 percent less in compensation compared to civilian federal employees.
The groups that testified alongside AMVETS during the morning hearing included the Air Force Sergeants Association, Fleet Reserve Association, Non-commissiond Officers Association, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Retired Enlisted Association, Military Officers Association of America, National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs, and Vietnam Veterans of America.
Hapner's testimony opened with vehement opposition to the VA's purported third-party billing for service-connected veterans. Hapner then applauded the committees for their work to provide advanced appropriations for the VA before leading into the AMVETS 2009 legislative agenda.
Check back with American Veterans Online this afternoon for photos and further highlights from the day's hearing.
(Photo: Cmdr. Hapner testifying before Congress. Photo by Isaac Pacheco)