LeRoy Collins Commentary 239

Commentary #239
11 November 2008


As Executive Director of the Florida Department of Veterans' Affairs, and a Veteran of 38 years in the Naval service, Veterans Day is a big occasion for me. Yesterday was no exception....

I spent 12 hours yesterday traveling 348 miles in Florida to 1. speak to a 11am gathering of Florida Veterans and families at the VA National Cemetery in Bushnell, including my introduction of Florida's Governor Charlie Crist, and 2. guest speaker to the Veterans Day celebration at 3pm at the State Veterans Nursing Home in Daytona Beach.

Unlike Memorial Day on 30 May which celebrates our deceased Veterans, Veterans Day on 11 November celebrates the Veterans still with us,...... and that number in Florida is 1.7 million, and 24 million Nationwide.

Before President Bush leaves office, I think we should recognize he has been highly supportive of Veterans benefits as evidenced in the attached.

/s/ LeRoy Collins, Jr.

Blue band divider with stars

President Bush Has Provided Unprecedented Support For Our Veterans

"We have a moral obligation to provide the best possible care and treatment to the men and women who have served our country."
President George W. Bush (March 6, 2007)

Dramatically Increased Funding To Support And Care For Those Who Have Served Our Nation.

Increased funding for veterans' medical care by more than 115 percent since 2001.

FY 2009 funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) totals more than $97 billion, nearly double the level of funding when the President took office and the highest level of support for veterans in history.

Provided more than $6 billion to modernize and expand VA medical facilities and more than $1 billion over the past three years to support traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder treatment and research.

Honored our veterans with a hallowed, final resting place by implementing and fully funding the largest expansion in the national cemetery system since the Civil War.

Veterans chart

Improved Care And Services For Wounded Warriors

Created the Commission on Care for America's Returning Wounded Warriors co-chaired by former Senator Bob Dole and former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala to ensure that wounded service members and veterans receive quality care and services and can live lives of hope, promise, and dignity. Nearly all of the Commission's recommendations have already been implemented, such as:

  * Expanded training, screening, and staff resources to help service members and veterans suffering from mental health disorders.
  * Created a joint Recovery Coordinator Program for seriously injured service members.
  * Initiated a pilot program to replace the cumbersome system of two separate disability examinations with a single, comprehensive medical exam.

Established a Center of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury and expanded VA's polytrauma system of care to 21 network sites and clinic support teams to provide state-of-the-art treatment to injured veterans at facilities closer to their homes.

Ensured Those Who Have Served Our Country Receive The Benefits They Deserve

Called for and signed a GI Bill for the 21st century, which expanded education benefits for service members and veterans and made it easier for those who defend our Nation to transfer unused education benefits to their spouses or children.

Increased career counseling services for returning veterans, particularly those wounded in combat.

Signed legislation that increased from two to five years a combat veteran's eligibility to enroll for lifetime VA medical care and allowed family members of injured service members to take additional time away from their jobs to care for their loved ones.

Signed legislation to ensure military retirees with severe disabilities receive both their military retired pay and their VA disability compensation.

Helped more than 1.9 million veterans enroll in the VA health care system since 2001.

Reduced the average length of time to process a veteran's disability claim to under 180 days, down from 230 days when the President took office.

Senator Warner quote

Worked To Decrease The Number Of Homeless Veterans

Expanded Federal grants and worked extensively with faith-based and community organizations to help homeless veterans.

Cut the number of homeless veterans by nearly 40 percent from 2001 to 2007.

# # #

President Bush

Office of the Press Secretary
(New York, New York)

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/s/ LeRoy Collins, Jr.


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