Friday, July 22, 2011

This newsletter from Senator PATTY MURRAY (D-WA) shows there IS something going on back in the "other Washington" besides Boner and the teapublicans bickering and bitching...

July 22, 2011

Preserving Benefits for Veterans Suffering from Agent Orange Exposure

On Thursday, I helped defeat an amendment introduced by Senator Tom Coburn that would have created a nearly impossible standard for Vietnam Veterans to receive compensation for certain types of exposure to Agent Orange. Before the vote on Coburn’s amendment, I went to the Senate floor and called out the amendment for what it was: another hurdle Vietnam veterans would have to overcome in their 40 plus year struggle for compensation and care.  The amendment ultimately failed to be included in the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill after I successfully asked that the amendment be tabled – which it was - by a vote of 69-30. Soon after the tabling of the amendment, the Senate passed the Military Constructions and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill which will ensure that veterans across the country get the support they deserve.
Watch my speech on the Senate floor opposing this amendment
Read more
Learn more about the critical support for veterans I helped pass through the Senate this week.

Bridging the Gaps in VA Mental Health Care

Last week, I chaired a hearing of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee to address shortcomings in VA mental health care that have contributed to unacceptable waiting times for care, rising suicide levels, and a series of negative reports from VA watchdogs. At the hearing, I heard from Daniel Williams, an Iraq veteran who described how an IED explosion during his 2003/2004 deployment to Iraq led to traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) injuries. Williams told the committee how those experiences then led to a suicide attempt in 2004 that was broken up by his wife and local police.  He also discussed how his PTSD was received by fellow soldiers, his concerns over the stigma attached to the mental wounds of war, and his frustrations with the mental health care administered by the VA.
I also heard testimony from Andrea Sawyer, wife and caregiver of Loyd Sawyer, who, after being deployed in Iraq, shared similar stories of frustration, including a failed suicide attempt. These two servicemembers, even after attempting to take their own lives, were met with red tape, wait times for initial appointments at the VA, and additional frustrations in seeking the mental health care they so desperately needed.
These undue burdens are unacceptable and I will continue working to ensure our service men and women have access to the quality of mental health care they deserve.
Read more
Watch the hearing

Helping Veterans Get off the Streets and into Safe and Secure Housing

Last week, I announced that public housing authorities in Washington state would receive a total of 175 housing vouchers to help local homeless veterans and their families get off the streets and into permanent housing. In 2008, I worked to restart the critical HUD-VASH grant program because these vouchers, which can be used by eligible veterans for rental assistance in their local community, are a key reason why we are making real progress toward goals to finally end veterans homelessness. For some veterans, this support is long overdue, and I’m glad that homeless veterans across Washington state will have an opportunity to secure stable housing.
Read more

Examining the Human and Financial Costs of War

Next Wednesday, I will hold a hearing to examine the real human and financial costs of the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and how as a nation we need to plan to keep our promise to these veterans for the rest of their lives. During the hearing, Crystal Nicely, the wife of Marine Corporal Todd Nicely, a quadruple amputee veteran of the War in Afghanistan, will testify about the lifetime of support her and her husband will require and about the red tape she has already faced in her daily struggle to provide Todd with the care he needs.
 The hearing will start at 10:00 AM EST and you can watch it live.

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As Jim Hightower explains it, is that “the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans possess more net worth today than the bottom 90 percent of us combined. Worse, these privileged few and their political henchmen have structured a new economic ‘normal’ of long-term joblessness, low wages, no benefits or worker rights, miserly public services, and a steadily widening chasm between the rich and the rest of us.” We must restore sanity to this nation.