Statement of Garry J. Augustine, DAV Washington Executive Director

On behalf of DAV’s nearly 1.3 million members and all injured and ill veterans who rely on VA for their health care, we are grateful to Senate Chairman Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), as well as House Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN) and Congressman Tim Walz (D-MN) for working together in a bipartisan, bicameral manner to pass legislation (S. 114, as amended) that will not only continue the Choice program uninterrupted, but also expand veterans’ access care by making critically-needed investments in the VA health care system.

We are particularly appreciative that in crafting the final agreement on this important legislation they worked closely with DAV and other major veterans service organizations (VSOs), who are accredited by VA to represent the interests of America’s 21 million veterans.

Thanks to their willingness to engage with us, the legislation going to the President will appropriate $2.1 billion — without having to meet offset requirements – to continue funding the current Choice program for approximately another six months.  Equally important, this final compromise version of the legislation will authorize 28 urgently-needed medical facility leases to expand veterans’ access to health care, as well as provide VA with new tools and authorities to recruit, hire and retain high-quality medical professionals.

We look forward to continuing our work with the House and Senate Committees on Veterans’ Affairs to reform and modernize the VA health care system so that all veterans have timely access to high-quality, veteran-focused health care, regardless of where they live.