(Extensions of Remarks - November 10, 2003)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E2289]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                              VETERANS DAY


                       HON. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON

                                of texas

                    in the house of representatives

                       Monday, November 10, 2003

  Ms. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON of Texas. Mr. Speaker, during this season 
we pause to celebrate Veterans Day.
  We pay tribute to the veterans who have honored us with their 
service, and their sacrifice. Some have even paid the ultimate price 
for freedom. In dying they renewed and sustained the freedom and the 
promise to our Nation.
  In the last paragraph of his second inaugural address, Abraham 
Lincoln uttered the words that would ultimately comfort untold numbers 
of veterans and their families for generations to come. Lincoln 
challenged the divided nation to ``Bind up the Nation's wounds; to care 
for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his 
  This is the test and the measure of our Nation. Is it any wonder that 
architects emblazoned these words on the walls of the Lincoln Memorial? 
They are also engraved on a plaque on the headquarters building of the 
Veterans Affairs Administration in Washington.
  As a Nation, we are united in honoring our war dead, we need to be as 
united in honoring our living veterans.
  Because our Armed Forces have borne the battles of freedom, the 
United States enjoys an unprecedented position of international 
  Yet, the promise of lifelong health care that this country made to 
our men and women in uniform is being threatened, not by the aggression 
of a foreign power, but by inadequate funding.
  Mr. Speaker, as our veterans grow older, they require increased 
dependence on health care services.
  Before I served as the chief psychiatric nurse at the Veterans 
Administration Hospital in Dallas during the 70's. I was privileged to 
serve in the day care and rehabilitation center of the facility for 15 
years. I know firsthand that caring for America's veterans is the 
ongoing cost of war.
  The Republican budget cuts will adversely affect over 70,000 Texas 
veterans. This number includes more than 18,000 veterans in the Dallas-
Fort Worth area.
  Proposed cuts to the budget for the Department of Veterans Affairs 
will halt enrollment in the VA Health Care System. Texas veterans will 
be driven from the system. It is estimated that 5,200 active patients 
in the Dallas-Fort Worth area will drop out of the VA Health Care 
  Thousands of other veterans in my home State face the grim prospect 
of increasing health care costs in the VA system. The budget will also 
increase fees for veterans who utilize the VA Health Care System; 
forcing thousands in and around the Dallas metroplex to drop out.
  An estimated 60,000 Texas veterans, including over 20,000 veterans 
receiving active VA care, are unlikely to be able to afford this 
  Mr. Speaker, how can Congress and this administration even consider 
slashing benefits at a time when our young men and women are still in 
harm's way in Iraq, Afghanistan and Southwest Asia.
  Veterans should not be expected to wait in longer lines, and travel 
farther for health care services at a diminished level. If we fail our 
obligation to veterans, how can we justify sending more and more young 
service members into harm's way?
  As we celebrate Veterans Day, it is fitting and proper that we honor 
an African-American sailor who paid the ultimate price for our freedom.
  I am planning to introduce legislation soon that calls for awarding 
the Congressional Medal of Honor to Dorie Miller posthumously for his 
heroic actions during World War II. This recognition is long overdue 
for a man who served his country with distinction and valor during the 
attack on Pearl Harbor.
  Dorie Miller is just one example of African-American war heroes and 
veterans who have gone beyond and above the call of duty to preserve 
freedom's full measure, although they themselves were denied it in many 
quarters at home.
  As Americans, we owe a debt of gratitude to our veterans. It is our 
duty to ensure that they receive the support they need from the country 
they so diligently served.
  As we daily witness the courageous and professional efforts of our 
Armed Forces engaged in Iraq, Afghanistan and in Southeast Asia, we are 
all reminded of the tremendous sacrifices our veterans have made on our 
  As we celebrate another Veterans Day this November, we must back up 
our promises with our meaningful action.