Topics: Veterans Affairs

Rep. Charles Boustany: Will Congress continue making empty promises to nation's veterans?

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Photo - As his sister and advocate Susan Simmons, right, holds his prepared statement for him, Mike Simmons, left, a military veteran, tells an Oklahoma House interim study committee in October 2012 that he was physically abused at Oklahoma’s Norman Veterans Center and staff members tried to intimidate him. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
As his sister and advocate Susan Simmons, right, holds his prepared statement for him, Mike Simmons, left, a military veteran, tells an Oklahoma House interim study committee in October 2012 that he was physically abused at Oklahoma’s Norman Veterans Center and staff members tried to intimidate him. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
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A recent CBS Evening News story focused on the hardships military veterans face when they must travel up to three hours to receive treatment for combat-related conditions.

House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have exacerbated this problem by refusing since 2011 to authorize any new community-based outpatient clinics for veterans, placing more than 38 VA leases for major medical facilities in permanent limbo.

In June 2013, 66 Members of the House and Senate sent a letter to Boehner and Reid asking them to break a bureaucratic log jam that jeopardizes care for more than 340,000 veterans in 22 states. Despite repeated requests, Boehner and Reid declined to answer with a formal written response.

Congress has approved more than 800 of these clinics since the 1990s. It's disappointing that Boehner and Reid would allow the end of this leasing program to commence under their watch.

The end of lease authorizations means clinics with annual rents above $1 million will close as leases expire. And, new promised clinics won't be built for waves of returning veterans.

Will congressional leaders allow another year to pass without approving the promised clinics?

Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La., recently introduced H.R.2913, legislation to authorize the delayed VA leases.

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